Train Ride To Kolkata in Nelson Mandela’s Prison Cell
February 24, 2005 Coromandel Express SU #12 ( side upper berth) 2nd class a/c sleeper compartment – this was to be my location for the next 30 hours. I debated – should I ask the conducter to change my seat? I have never had to sit/sleep on the top berths – especially the side ones ( the one nobody usually wants). Naaaa – let me have some peace. I barely get out of my seat anyhow. As I climbed up I realized it was alot narrower then the berths that were perpendicular to the train. I plopped my backpack and handbag on one end and sat on the other end. I closed the mini curtain that gave me privacy from people walking by in the cabin. Whoaaaa – it was quite tight. Almost 30 hours to go …. no problem. I will just sleep, read and meditate – all in good solitude.
Well that was the plan anyways. Most of the first 8 hours I slept, until I was interuppted by the conducter for my dinner. I got up to relieve myself and then read a book. 11pm and I still couldn’t sleep. I wanted to meditate – but my thoughts were too astray.
8 am – “Madame, your breakfast.” I woke up groggy and had a nice breakfast. I read a book – fell asleep. Woke up – comtemplated meditating and then began my astray thoughts again. Finally I got fed up. I realized that I had placeed myself deliberately in solitude to read and meditate. Then I thought about the prisoners of Robben Island in South Africa. For them it had been an privelage to read a book. How did they read? How did they motivate themselves to focus? They had such harsh conditions. Here I was in an air conditioned compartment with people calling me ” madame” and I still can’t finish my book or meditate!!
And soon I realized that even though I had used this train ride to just scratch the surface of what a prison cell would be like – more the tribulations a prisoner’s mind would go through – I confessed that it was not as easy as it seemed ( to sit in a cell and read a book). My mind was not as strong as I thought. Man… Nelson Mandela had some iron will power.
My Lesson – it is not your environment hence your “busy life” that does not allow you the time to read.. to meditate. It is simply just your mind. As it is said, “You are your worst enemy.”