In single file they walked past us, many of them were elderly. They carried their possessions with them, some in suitcases & others in shoulder bags. They were displaced people, with no place to call their own. Their fate lay in the hands of those in charge. Their faces were reddened, sweat beads on some. They looked stressed, embarrassed, but there was relief & hope in their eye also.
It was hot!
A female guard walked by carrying water bottles.
“Where did you get them from?” A male voice asked in a condescending tone.
“We are giving them to people who need them” she replied.
“I need one” he complained arrogantly.
‘Not as much as the others’ I thought to myself.
At least 3 times we had been delayed on this trip so far, we were making slow progress. Another announcement over the loud speaker; “We will be stopping for a further 15 minutes, we apologise for the inconvenience”
People could not hide their frustration “Oh you’re kidding” some muttered.
The guy who had questioned the guard was now out of his seat pacing back & forth. “C**t C**t C**t” he repeated.
A few of us smiled at each other awkwardly. “Well someone is bound to lose their shit” I said to the guy next to me.
“Assholes, Dogs” more of his words drifted our way.
We were in Australia, we had a seat on a mostly air conditioned train & we knew the destination. We had chosen to get on this train. One of the carriages air conditioning had failed on a day of extreme heat, 47 degrees Celsius (116.6 Fahrenheit). The people in the hot carriage had been relocated as soon as possible. The train had been slowed due to the conditions. We ended up 1 and a half hours late.
I put it in context. We had food, water & a toilet. ‘This will pass’ I had realised. This was few hours out of our lives.’ Our lives were not in danger at any time. In Australia, we feel annoyed if we are late or uncomfortable for a little while we feel frustrated if things don’t go our way.
I was reminded of the millions of Syrian refugees who could not say the same. Their experience so much more serious, life threatening. Do you ever think of what it would be like to be a refugee? Can you imagine fleeing your country because it was under attack, walking hundreds of kilometers daily, in fear of your life. Can you imagine what it would be like to unsure of the future safety of your family?
I’m glad I was on that train on that very hot day!