TITLE: Tumble down the train track
By Jasti Victor
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Harleigh Rose is the Organizing Secretary for the local Community of Artists of the City of Boroondara. An active person involving herself in nearly all of the Ashburton’s social and welfare activities, she is popular and well liked by nearly all the seven thousand inhabitants of the suburb.
She was in the forefront against the closure of the small police stations, citing logistics that it would lead to a spurt of criminal activities. She is also a staunch supporter of Ashburton Asylum Seekers Support Group.
Harleigh Rose, an Irish descendant, has the same anger when injustice is being done to the weak and the down trodden as was her great grand father who had fought in the Irish Civil War. She is never tired of telling her three teenagers, two sons and a daughter about her grand father Chris John's passion for railways, who felt that it would take development to the remote undeveloped areas. He was instrumental in electrifying the Ashburton station way back in 1924. That’s one major reason of her unflinching love to Ashburton.
She as one of her grandfather’s favorite, imbibed his passion and love for railways. She loves commuting in rail, rarely using the car. Her husband, Mathew Reeves has a chain of high profile men’s clothing stores, situated in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne and that keeps her busy for most part of the day. The store at High Street is the talk of the town, known for its novelty.
On Thursday, 15th October 2009 Harleigh Rose kept her appointment with the Assistant Principal, Ashburton Primary School to discuss with her about the Community Arts Day, which was to be held on 21st October 2009. Harliegh Rose has been associated with their Community Arts Day from the time it was conceptualized seven years back. She is the guiding force for the young budding artists from all over Melbourne.
As she had to meet and organize a series of meetings, she was hurrying back to the Ashburton station to catch the 4 pm city bound Connex train.
The station was practically empty with about three or four women in front of her and a group of students a distance away.
A young woman in her twenties was waiting with a pram in front of her, just a few meters away. She saw that the mother was with two other ladies, may be waiting for the same train.
Then it happened suddenly in a split second. So sudden was the chain of events as it unfurled that Harliegh Rose never really knew about the sequence even after two days.
The announcements, the rush of the train, the rolling of the pram in front of the train, the scream of the young mother and the strange high pitched voice, which she discovered to her horror, was hers’, took its toll and she nearly blacked out.
She had in her life time, seen many a tragedy as she was an active member in nearly all the volunteer groups from helping the orphans, widows, the homeless and the drug addicts and is proud of her mature, unruffled and firm stance.
But never saw an incident as horrifying as a baby falling on the track in front of a running train. She ran after the mother, who was running to reach the front of the train, as it stopped.
'Please God, help.' She whispered gasping as she caught up with the others, not knowing what had happened to the baby.
'Oh God, let nothing happen to the baby.' She prayed again.
The train driver shocked, was the first to jump on the tracks, followed by others.
“Oh my God!”
“Is the baby safe?”
“Did some one call the ambulance?”
Above the sound of the running feet, the high pitched voices and shouts for help as everyone ran towards the crushed pram in front of the train, Harliegh Rose, panting and pale with fear, looked over the mothers’ shoulder, who was kneeling down on the tracks, and found her comforting the baby.
The baby survived.
“Thank God, the baby is fine.”
“Just imagine being dragged for such a long distance.”
“I think the baby was saved because he was strapped to the pram”
Harliegh Rose, listening silently, looked around the station for a familiar face, anyone to whom she could talk. There were passengers around, some still running, the others just gaped at the people standing in front of the engine, not knowing what they are supposed to do. All are strangers to her.
For her, it was just an ordinary day, a Thursday. What she thought was to be an ordinary week day with a couple of appointments; one at the school, another at the artist center and the last at the orphanage, turned out to be one of her most unforgettable day.
She does not know the young mother or the train driver or anyone around. But she did what naturally came to her. She prayed and that made the difference to her.
Though she was in forefront in many activities and led her group to many a victory, she never prayed as there was never an occasion for her to do.
With sirens blazing the ambulance screeched in and took the child to the Royal Children’s Hospital.
By the time she left, the entire station was getting filled up. The reporters from the media , the police,onlookers and may be people from Connex and Kidsafe.
Harliegh Rose walked a few steps, stopped suddenly, smiling to herself.
‘Never in my life had I seen a miracle happening right in front of me.’
'Praise God! I witnessed a miracle.' She whispered, wiping away a tear, and laughed silently.
'Now I can tell my children that I was part of a miracle as it happened.'
Beaming, she opened her purse and took out her mobile phone to call her husband, as she walked to catch a bus.
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