The story "The Woman on Platform 8" is about a schoolboy, and he is the protagonist of the story. The boy was probably twelve-year-old.
A boy
The boy was a boarding school student, and his second year of schooling had begun. It was time for him to return to school after his holidays. As a result, he boarded a bus and arrived at the Ambala station in the evening. Ambala station is one of the busiest railway stations in India. It is located in the Indian state of Haryana.

Ambala railway station
The boy's parents believed that he was old enough to travel alone on a train. The boy had to wait in the station because the train was scheduled to arrive in Ambala at midnight. He spent his time by walking up and down the platform, looking for books at the bookstall, or feeding broken biscuits to the street dogs.

Many trains will arrive and depart as he sat in the vast railway station. The boy sat and watched the trains go by. The railway station is silent for a while, but as the train arrived, people started to rush about with their luggage, making loud noise and shouting like crazy.

When the carriage doors opened, a crowd of people rushed down on the nervous little ticket collector at the entrance. Every time the boy was caught in the rush, and the people pushed him outside the station. The boy felt tired of getting into the rush and moved slowly to the platform. The boy sat down on his luggage, and he looked sadly across the railway tracks.
When the boy was at the railway station, he saw many people were moving with their trolleys. He could hear the shouting of various sellers like curd and lemon seller, sweetmeat seller, and newspaper seller.
Newspaper seller
The boy had lost interest in everything after waiting for a long time on the crowded platform. So he continued to look across the railway tracks. He felt very bored and lonely in the railway station.
The boy eventually heard a gentle voice behind him. 'Are you all alone, my son?' When the boy turned his attention to the soft voice, he saw a woman standing near him. The woman was dressed in a white sari and seemed to be very pale. She wore no jewellery and looked simple in her way. The boy felt a sense of kindness while looking at her eyes.
A woman
The woman had been watching the boy for a long time. So she approached him. After seeing the woman, the boy stood up with respect and answered that he was going to school after his vacation. Her appearance gave the impression of a poor woman, but he had great respect for her while speaking with her. Her simplicity and kindness made him talk to her.
Later on, the woman asked him, 'Didn't your parents come to see you off?'. On hearing that, the boy started to tell her that he does not belong to this place. He had started his journey from home by bus and then he reached the railway station. Finally, he has to travel in different trains to get to his school, and also he expressed to her, 'I can travel alone.'

After listening to the boy, the woman said she was very sure that he could travel alone. The boy was impressed by her positive way of talking. The boy liked her simplicity in dressing, her gentle voice, and calmness on her face.
After speaking with the boy, the woman asked him, 'Tell me, what is your name?' The boy introduced himself as Arun. Later, she wanted to know how long he would have to wait in the station for his train. He said the train would probably reach the station in about an hour. It was scheduled to arrive at twelve o'clock. After asking him the train's arrival timing, she told him there was plenty of time for the train to arrive. She asked him to come along with her. The woman knew that he had not eaten anything for a long time. So she decided to buy some food for him.

The boy thought of refusing her call because he felt shy and doubtful as the woman was a stranger. He was seeing her for the first time, and he had never known her before. Later on, the woman held his hand, and the boy felt silly to pull of his hands.
The woman called a coolie (a person who carries things from the train) standing nearby and asked him to take care of the boy's belongings (suitcase).
A coolie
The woman took him down the platform. The boy felt gentleness in her hands. She did not hold his hands roughly or lightly. The boy looked at her again and again. The woman was neither young nor old. She seemed to be likely thirty, but he expected her to be the same as she was in her thirties when she turned fifty.
Woman holding boy's hand
The woman took the boy to a dining-room that was inside the railway station. She ordered tea, jalebies, and samosas for him.
Tea, samosas and jalebies
After that, the boy became more friendly or developed a new interest in that woman. His appetite increased after seeing the food. He was starving because he hadn't eaten anything for a long time. He ate as much as he could because he was a hungry schoolboy (the hungry school boy refers to the one who was young and can eat only a certain amount of food). He ate politely and with table manners.

The woman looked at him gently the way a mother looks after her child while he/she was eating food. The boy thought that their friendship developed because of tea and sweets. When he first met the woman, he was too shy to approach her. Later, when she treated him well, he began to speak freely to her. He told her about his school, his friends, and what he likes and dislikes. The woman asked a few questions in between, but she was mostly a good listener. She was focused entirely on the boy and was not hesitating to hear what he had to say. He was influenced by the way she treated him.

While talking with the boy, the woman never asked him about his family and his living place. Likewise, the boy also never bothered about the same thing. He accepted her as a good friend because of the way she treated him. The boy thought that the woman was kind and gentle because she offered food to the lonely and hungry boy on a busy platform.
After having snacks for about half-an-hour at the dining-room, the woman and Arun left the place. They began to return to the old place where Arun had previously sat (platform no 8). They heard an engine sound while walking on the platform (a train was approaching the nearby platform).
A train approached the nearby platform
When the train came beside platform no 8, a boy jumped off from the platform, ran across the rails and took the shortcuts to reach the next platform. The boy was on the safer side, and also, he was far away from the engine. No danger would come his way if he stood properly and did not fall.

When the boy jumped across the rails, the woman grabbed Arun's hand tightly in fear. While she held his hand, unknowingly, her hands dug into his flesh. Arun felt hurt and pain in his hands. Due to extreme pain, Arun caught her fingers immediately and looked up at her. Arun noticed the emotions of fear, pain, and sadness on her face.
The woman was worried about the boy who jumped over the rails to reach the next platform. She kept an eye on the boy as he climbed to the next platform, and she didn't let go of Arun's arm until the boy was lost in the crowd. But Arun caught her sight, and he understood what was going through her mind and said, 'He was all right.' The woman smiled at Arun after hearing his words. She pressed his hands in the sense of everything was alright. Nothing had gone wrong.
Later on, Arun and the woman started to walk again. They walked together in silence until they reached the place where Arun kept his suitcases. While they went there, Arun noticed one of his school friends named Satish, nearly the same age as Arun (probably twelve-year-old). Satish came to the railway station along with his mother.
Satish and Arun met each other at the railway station. They shook their hands and began conversing about the train's expected arrival time. Satish informed Arun that the train would be late as usual and asked, "Did you know we have a new Headmaster this year?"
Arun and Satish shake their hands
Later on, Satish thought of introducing Arun to his mother. Satish introduced Arun as one of his friend and the best bowler in the class. Satish mother felt happy seeing Arun and said, 'I am glad to know that'. Satish mother was wearing spectacles, and she looked like a large imposing woman (means grand and impressive in appearance).
Satish and his mother
Satish mother looked at Arun and the woman standing nearby him. She was holding Arun's hand, and so Satish mother asked Arun, 'And I suppose you're Arun's mother?'. Arun knew that the woman standing near him was not his mother. So he opened his mouth to give some clarification about his mother, but before that, the woman standing near Arun said, 'Yes, I am Arun's mother.'

On hearing the woman's words, Arun became speechless, and he looked at her. But she was standing simply without any discomfort and smiling at Satish mother.
After knowing the train would arrive late at midnight, Satish's mother said it was completely inconvenient to wait for the train late in the night. She also said the railway platform was not a safer place to leave the children alone. Anything could happen if a boy was standing alone on a platform. There might be many strangers roaming here and there in the station. The strangers would attack someone, and she said as one has to be very careful with strangers and maintain distance from them.

After hearing the lengthy talk of Satish's mother, the woman beside Arun said, 'Arun can travel alone though'. Arun felt thankful after hearing her words. When the woman introduced herself as Arun's mother to Satish mother, Arun felt discomfort in that. But after hearing the woman's faith in Arun, he had forgiven her for lying. Arun started to dislike Satish's mother as she was very talkative and treating the woman near him as a poor lady. And also, Arun hated the way Satish's mother was speaking to him.
Satish's mother, through her spectacles, looked at Arun seriously and told him to be very careful when he was not with his mother and to never speak to strangers. Satish's mother did not know the woman standing near Arun was a stranger, but also she warned him strictly to be aware of the strangers and never talk to them. Arun looked back at Satish's mother after looking at the woman who had bought him tea and snacks.

Arun answered as he like strangers. The reason behind Arun's statement was the woman standing nearby him was very kind and caring as she had bought him tea and snacks when he was alone on the railway platform. She reduced his appetite, and also, she spoke to him in a gentle way; Satish's mother was shocked because she had not expected that answer from Arun. Later, she disagreed with him, warning him that he would be in trouble if he did not follow others and listen to their words.

Satish's mother never experienced arguing with small boys. She always had the thought that the children would listen to her speech. But here, Arun was entirely against her view. Satish's mother was a strict lady. She had a mindset of the kids need to follow her words. She was very talkative and stubborn in her ideas. As a tough lady, she pointed out her fat finger and told him to obey his mother.
Satish's mother pointed out her fat fingers towards Arun
Arun did not like the way Satish's mother spoke to him. He looked at Satish's mother in the way of showing hatred or anger towards her. Then he went closer to the woman who spoke positively about him. Satish was observing everything happening in that place. He was standing behind his mother and watching Arun's conversation with his mother. Satish's face was filled with happiness when Arun was arguing with her. Later on, Arun understood Satish also had some kind of hatred towards his mother because she used to speak unnecessarily and Arun knew that Satish was also on his side.

The station bell rang, and the people who were waiting for the train sitting on the platform started to move quickly to get onto the train. After waiting for a long time, Satish saw the train, and he began to shout in excitement. The train slowly approached the platform. The engine made a hissing sound, and the flames of smoke came out from the engine.
Smoke from engine

Finally, the train reached platform no 8. Satish rushed inside the footboard of a compartment and shouted, 'Come on, Arun, this one's empty!' Arun picked up his suitcase and dashed to the open door.
Arun and Satish settled with their bags in the same compartment. They sat near the open windows. The two women standing outside the train were talking to Arun and Satish. But Satish's mother was the one who spoke a lot.

Even after the children getting onto the train, Satish's mother did not shut her mouth. She continued advising them not to jump on and off the train, put the heads out of the window, and not eat junk food from the train.

Satish's mother thought of herself as a capable person, and she started advising them. The woman who accompanied Arun did not open her mouth. The woman's silence probably made Satish's mother think Arun's mother is incapable of advising her son, and so she advised Arun too.

Satish's mother brought a bag of fruit, a cricket bat and a big box of chocolates. She gave them to Satish and asked him to share them with Arun. After giving fruits and advising them, Satish's mother moved back to watch how Arun's mother would behave to her son and what she would say to him before the train's departure.
Bag of fruits
Arun was feeling bad when Satish's mother was speaking with him in a dominating voice. She thought that Arun belonged to a poor family by looking at the appearance and simplicity of the woman near him. But Arun did not make the woman feel down. He was standing quietly and allowed the woman to hold his hand without any hesitation.

Arun was aware of what was going on around him. Satish's mother was already staring at both of them (Arun and the woman). Arun developed a dislike for Satish's mother without any reason. When it was time for the train to depart, the guard walked up the platform, took the whistle, and began blowing it.
A guard blowing whistle on platform
Arun looked at the woman's eyes in an understanding way (the bonding between Arun and the woman is seen). Arun leaned out of the window and gave a kiss on her cheeks.

The carriage started to move, and so the woman took her hand out. Satish bid farewell to his mother. The train started to move slowly out of the station. Satish and his mother waved their hands.
Before leaving the station, Arun said goodbye to the woman and called her as 'mother'. Arun's calling the woman as 'mother' at the time of parting was a sweet gesture of recognising a loving relationship between the boy and the woman. While the train started to move, Arun did not wave his hands or shout with excitement. He sat near the window seat, staring at the woman standing on the platform. Satish's mother was constantly speaking to her, but she was not paying attention. Furthermore, she was only looking at Arun. The train slowly started to move. The woman stood on the platform in her white sari and he watched her until the train took him away from the station. In his view, while the train moved on, she disappeared into the large crowd.