It was a local uptown train of the IRT line at 12:30 in the morning. Our train was meant to halt in normal fashion at every stop, but at 42nd Street, Times Square, we began what was to be our mad journey. The train flew on like a monster released from its controls and refused to stop. I was supposed to get off at 79th Street, but the train had its own plan. Each station was passed by at top speed, unheeded. Our train defeated even the express, which stops only at the main junctions. Ours refused to slow down, let alone stop, but continued on like a mad elephant.
The young boys and girls in the coach were in the seventh Heaven of delight, but the older people were frantic. They were being taken miles out of their way and there was no certainty that they would get trains in the reverse direction without great difficulty. Moreover, because of the wild speed, they felt an accident to be imminent. What if our train should meet its predecessor parked at a station?
Strangely enough, an old Bengali woman happened to be in our coach. I later found out that she came from Potia, Chittagong, East Bengal, only four miles from my birthplace. We were both in a runaway train in New York, only 13,000 miles from our native place. Imagine my surprise when I heard her cry out in our distinctive Chittagong dialect, “O Lord, O Lord, we are finished!”
I went to her and by way of a joke, I answered in the same vernacular, “God will not be satisfied with your life alone, but He wants ours as well.” When she heard her own dialect, tears of astonished delight came into her eyes and she could not help embracing me with motherly affection. I tried to soothe and reassure her, but her cries and tears did not cease. Nor did the panic-stricken cries of several other women in the coach.
At 130th Street the mad driver stopped his wild journey, only to be arrested by two policemen. Word had been sent by intersubway telephone from one station to another about the errant train. The police had been informed and had tried unsuccessfully to stop the driver at various places along the line. Curiously enough, the driver was not drunk. It seemed that an unseen force made him the instrument of that fateful journey in which he wanted to be free from all bondage and fly unhampered and dauntless into the bosom of the night.
On this trip, our invitation to death was compelled by a single individual, but God’s Grace willed otherwise and cancelled the rendezvous.