I learned of a story in my high school time (sometime during the years 2000-2002) as part of the English textbook.

The story is about two men having a conversation in a train, one is a disabled man who lost his wife during delivery (or something similar) and hence doesn't like kids, the other is a father of a kid who always waves at the train from the crossing near his house but the kid is sad that no one is waving him back and hence the dad is going to take a return train next day and wave at his kid to make him happy. The guys somehow end up sharing the room and the next day the father misses the train, returning home depressed but finds a hysterically happy kid at his home. He tells his father that someone today not only waved at him, but tied a handkerchief to his stretcher and waved it till the train went out of sight.

The story moved me as a kid so much that I still vigorously wave back at any kid who waves at me when I'm in a bus, train or any other vehicle.

I'd like to read that story once again but was unable to find it anywhere. Tried Google search for possible titles and keywords but looks like there are other stories with titles similar to this but entirely different story.

The story appeared in an English textbook as part of high school curriculum in Kerala, India. The year I read it is probably around 2000-2002.

  • Would this have been NCERT textbook? If so this source: ncert.nic.in/ncertldd/collection/pdf/archive_eng.pdf has a list of English textbooks that were published between 2000-2004 in one of the sections.
    – TomDot Com
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 9:29
  • Thanks TomDot, but I think its not a NCERT but probably SCERT textbook. Not sure though. Will check those routes to see if anything pops.
    – Mat J
    Commented Aug 29, 2020 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


This is "The Night at the Hotel" by Siegfried Lenz

‘Then,’ Schwamm said, ‘he goes on to his school. But when he returns home, he acts bewildered and in a daze, and sometimes even breaks out in tears. He can’t do his homework, he doesn’t want to play or talk to anyone. This has been going on for months, day after day. The boy is simply making himself sick.’

‘What’s the reason for his behaviour?’

‘You see,’ said Schwamm, ‘this is the strange thing: the boy waves and – sad for him to note- none of the passengers ever waves back. And he takes this so to heart that we, my wife and I are highly worried about him.’

His son met him at the door, beaming all over and wildly elated. He threw himself at Schwamm, pummelling his thigh with tightly closed fists and shouting.

‘A man waved today! Waved for ever so long!’

‘With a crutch?’ Schwamm asked.

‘Yes, with a cane. And then he tied his handkerchief to the cane and held it out of the window, and held it until I couldn’t see it any longer.’

  • It looks like the story was originally written in German, under the title „Die Nacht im Hotel“.
    – MJ713
    Commented May 13 at 21:12

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