While taking a class on public speaking in the academy I run, I told my class how important public speaking was in life. Many of us I told my students would not get opportunities to speak on podiums or stages, but there were other times it would come in useful as it came in for me.

I felt the class leaning forward, as they did whenever they knew Bob had a tale to tell and a tale I did tell, remembering every moment of that near horrific, eventful train journey.

“It was the year I got married,” I told the class, “and decided to show off my beautiful bride to my friends in Bangalore, so off we jumped on a train, second class sleeper, that’s all I could afford, and we enjoyed ourselves watching sights from our train window, and even a sunset with a rustic background thrown in for effect.

It was somewhere close to midnight that a group of youngsters, more ruffians by their loud talk forced their way into our reserved compartment, and one of them climbed onto my wife’s top berth. I quietly, but firmly told him to get down, and when he didn’t, pulled him off.

I thought it was the end of the matter, till suddenly the train stopped with a jerk, in the middle of nowhere, someone had pulled the chain, I was told later, and the gang of ruffians came to me, “Get down!” they snarled.

I was petrified. I knew their intentions were to take me off the train and teach me a lesson with their now not very innocent looking cricket bats.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the terrified face of my young bride, and knew there was really nothing I could do but face the inevitable, and as I stood up, I looked up and whispered, “Stand by me Lord!”

And an inspiration came to me. I stood, turned to the others in the compartment, and told them that today it was me, but tomorrow it would be them, and urged them to get back the reserved berths they had paid for. I spoke for a few seconds, and urged by one co-passenger, all the men in the compartment, got up, and before the youngsters knew what was happening pushed them out of the train, locked the doors from inside and put down the steel shutters. We heard stones being thrown, but soon the train started and left.

I had used words against sticks and stones and escaped.

I wish our country also realizes the power of speech. Most of the disruptions in Parliament, bullying elsewhere, and wife bashing come out of our inability to convince through debate and argument, through voice and words.

“Learn!” I urged my class and now say the same to all in our country, “and we like David will be able to slay Goliaths, with simple pebbles called words..!

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