I felt a wonderful sense of adventure exploring Paris on my own.
One afternoon, I decided to take the metro instead of a cab. My hotel was 30 minutes away. The kind officer at the service center at the station gave me a printout of the directions. I had to go down 8 stations. After that, I had to change trains to reach my destination.
Having experienced shorter trips on the metro for a couple of days, I felt pretty confident about this complex trip.
I sat undisturbed on the first seat in the front coach of the train. My back was to the rest of the passengers but I had a perfect view from the window facing me.
The first couple of stations passed by. I couldn’t recognize the station names as they are pronounced differently in French. For some reason, I couldn’t recognize the names on the map in the train either. I attributed it to my not-so-perfect eye sight.
I relaxed when I remembered my station was the 8th one down the row. The train halted at this station too.
Suddenly, I noticed a man gesticulating wildly. He seemed to be saying, ‘get out of the train now!’ His body language was urgent and tense. I looked around in horror to see I was the only one in the train.
Oh My Gosh! It was the last station. I had gotten on a train going in the opposite direction.
I picked up my bags and darted to the door. But right then, it beeped loudly and shut. I was trapped, alone, in panic. Tears stung my eyes.
What would happen to me? I didn’t know the language. I didn’t know anybody in this huge city. I wasn’t even using a local sim card.
The train started moving again. It was headed to the docking station. By this time, my anxiety had reached the sky. Another flurry of questions followed.
How long would the train dock for? Would they turn off the electricity? What would I do all alone, in a dark train in a foreign land? The train stopped but my prayers didn’t.
Suddenly, I saw a young man walk towards me. He was probably in his late 20’s or early 30’s. To my relief, he spoke English, albeit haltingly. But we could converse.
He asked me why I didn’t get off at the last station. I told him I had no idea it was the last station. He urged me to calm down and asked which station I wanted to get to.
I showed him and he said the train would restart in 2 minutes. I was safe, he said.
His eyes were gentle. I asked him, “you’re not going to leave me alone, are you?” He said he had to leave, but I would certainly be alright. Saying that, he walked into the dark.
Just like that the train restarted. People started getting in and off stations. I reached my hotel room in the next 30 minutes, without further event.
The incident shook me up. It brought me face to face with my fears. Fears I didn’t know existed within me.
Sipping green tea in my hotel room, I felt safe and secure. In this safe zone, I examined my fears: the fear of facing the unknown, all alone stood out starkly.
‘What’s going to happen to him when I’m no longer around’ was a fear lurking in the back ground too. Would he be independent enough to take care of himself? His seizures, his medications? how would life turn out for him?
All parents of children with special needs carry this fear.
I deliberately redirected my thoughts to the young man who came just in time to reassure me. He played the role of an angel in my life at that time. Stay calm. You will reach your destination.
My dear friend, we’re fellow passengers on this journey of life. We’ve gotten here via different routes — but we carry the same fear in our hearts for our children.
Let’s take the angel’s words to heart.
We will arrive at our destination safely. And our kids will be taken care of – always.