18th March 2017 3:17 P.M
I had booked a cab 4 minutes ago and I was waiting for it to arrive.
3:26 P.M: Riko and I were sitting in the cab and we were headed to the Railway station. We found the railway crossing closed in the very start of the trip.
“Like this, we will get late” I said to Riko from the front passenger seat.
“Here, the train comes” he said after hearing the train’s loud horn.
It opened at 3:31.
“It will take us 15 minutes to reach the station”The driver stated.
‘That is 46. We will reach at 3:46 and the train’s time is 3:50. Cool, that’s close.’ I thought in my mind.
I checked the train’s running status on my phone.
“Riko, when I checked the status at 2:40, the train was running 25 minutes late(it’s normal for it) and now it’s 1 minute early.” I lost my happiness after seeing the status.
We were in the way and the driver was driving pretty nicely. No, that’s not a sarcastic sentence, he was driving with care like a responsible man.
‘You can drive a little fast, Should I say? Let him be, he is not the ‘type’, he is from the very few left ones that drive according to the rules.’ So, I stopped myself from asking him to accelerate the car. At the under crossing of Peacock Garden Flyover, a train blew horn and came running on the tracks. It is visible from the Garden’s turn and I was little worried. It was 3:42 right then. ‘No, this can’t happen.‘I looked at the blue moving coaches. It was hard and I tried on every coming coach…’****J%^&, what’s that written?’ I tried harder. It was Allahabad-Jaipur. I was relieved.
We were standing on the platform at 3:50. And a female voice was announcing “May I have your attention Please? From Jodhpur to Varanasi via Agra and Lucknow, train no. 14854 Marudhar Express is arriving shortly on platform no.1”. An average height guy looking older than us with mustache and light beard came walking from a side. He is our college’s senior hailing from Jaipur. He was familiar to Riko.
We boarded the train and went to our seats. The train was crowded this time. Filled with passengers as it was the post-festival time. And let me tell you a thing. The ticket we had was partially confirmed, one passenger’s seat was confirmed, other was on the waiting list WL 1.
This was the third time I was traveling back to college after spending holidays at home, but I don’t know why it didn’t felt like it. It felt like the first time. I was not feeling excited or happy to come back. It was like the first time when I left home. Sad and lonely. I wanted to be at home.
In the next to next compartment, there were some guys from our college freshers. I knew them. Very well. We conversed for some time. Then, I ca- me back to my seat, plugged in my earphones and started reading the book ‘One Indian Girl’. An hour gone and it was time for the sun to set. And I like the time of sunset and sunrise in trains. So, I went to the gate. Stood there with music playing in my ears and the cool air hitting my face. That’s how I like it, my hairs being blown by the wind. Refreshing. And while I was standing and looking at the green-yellow fields running backwards, thoughts cluttered up in my vacant brain. Thoughts about different things, places and people. The people I love, the places I live in and the life I am living. It made me more sombre. But let me tell you that I like this kind of me- sedate and thoughtful. Even if I am, it is not needed everytime to reveal. Some time later, the senior which we met on the station came behind me. We talked, get to know each other. He is a simple good guy, this is what he seems to me at least.
We ate food. And when I went back to the compartment, I was startled at first, the trical guys were gone and there was a girl sitting with her mom. I checked the seat number, it was right. The auntie saw me and gave a smile, she saw my surprised expression. I smiled and sat. Later, I came to know it was their seats, the boys had exchanged just to sit.
“Take some” the auntie politely offered something. I shook my head. We were four people and everybody refused.
“Take beta, it’s just toffee” she said smilingly. She had some grey hairs and looked slightly old. Around than 50, one can say.
It was then I saw at her hand, there were more than a dozen candies. Earlier I thought she was offering food. Everybody took one.
“Do you always keep toffees with you for kids like us?” I started the conversation with a childish smile.
She laughed and said “Yes, I too eat toffees and give everyone. You don’t eat toffees?”
“No, I do, just because aunties usually don’t give so many candies”
It was a light conversation ahead. The tall, fair and with cheeks having a light pink tint was his daughter. She was reading a book, not a novel though.
With time, I came to know she was an engineering graduate and now going to Varanasi for an air force interview.
“How many levels are there in this exam?” Riko asked.
Then she told us about it in brief. About the exams one has to clear- FCAT, then interviews and separate exams for Pilots, Logistics and Administration.
The topic closed within a few minutes.
“You belong to Punjab?” I asked.Particularly the auntie.
“We are not sikh..My parents were from Pakistan, but you can say..But how do you know?”
“Just know, intuition.” I said grinning.
“Looking at you gives a Punjabi feel”
Then we talked about her(girl’s) college, her college is in Jaipur. They live in Jaipur. How’s life in hostel? and many things.
In trains, I try to wake up early. To stand at the gate, feel the morning breeze and the sunrise. I do this everytime, try and you will know. So, I woke up at 5:46 A.M and washed my face and brushed. The sun rose at 6:20 and I was there to relish the scene. I took some photos and stood there for more than 10 minutes.
Gradually, the train catches speed, the electric poles pass whizzing and whenever a bridge’s below, the sound turns loud and echoes. Thrill. I had been reading my ongoing novel for the rest of the time till we reached Varanasi. And still 40 pages are left unread.
I was sad when leaving home and in train but after coming to the hostel, it goes away. You accept. It’s all normal again. The room was as it was when I left- notebooks scattered on the table, towel on bed, blanket etc.
Same place, same people, and same things. And all these together give me different Tales of Life.