Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Once Upon In Life...

"Excuse me? Our seat has been allotted to two…can I sit here?"
Slightly annoyed at being rudely shaken out of my reverie I looked up to find her smiling down at me.
Yeah! I found it rude because I expect the world around me to know and not to disturb me when I am lost in my precious self!
Though, polite as ever, I found myself returning her congenial smile as I pulled in my legs and said…
"No Problem. Please make yourself comfortable!"
She did so immediately with a gratified expression on her face and her husband took a berth opposite ours. After settling down she looked up and we smiled at each other. A 'Thanks' was no longer required.
Having seen off DD( meaning wat it sounds in Hindi and The Dancing Devil) at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Station to her cousin's place I had nothing left to amuse me.( Did I just say that DD amuses me? It was unintentional if you think I did…)
DD was gone and so was her excellent cell. (It had songs in it!) and I had read enough Fountainhead in one go to last me for the next two days. Probable as it may seem, talking to myself is something I do only while dreaming.
I stretched out on the berth whole of which was now thankfully left to me. Oh! I wasn't thankful for DD's absence but for the berth. Just as I was about to go into a habitual thoughtful stupor, this lady entered the scene.
"Are you travelling alone?" she asked.
"Not really…my friend got down at Delhi."
"From where are you coming?"

"Roorkee."
"To?"
"Mathura."
"You study in Roorkee?"
"Yeah."
"Where?"
"IIT-R"
( Till date I don't like adding 'R' after IIT, did it nevertheless. I am not that ungrateful towards my Alma Mater.)
"Oh…that's good!"
"Thanks…"
"You will do a job after you complete your education?"
"Is it ever complete?" is what I thought. To her I said
"I definitely intend to…"
Throughout the conversation she had been smiling. At this moment, her smile faltered and a expression flickered across her face which I was at a complete loss to comprehend then.
I questioned for my part,
"Where are you from?"
"Meerut…I got married there.",
she said pointing towards her husband.
"Oh…I see…"
We were silent for some minutes after which her husband got up and left.(To take a puff at a cigarette…which was later confirmed by the stench.)
Our eyes met again…we smiled…and without me enquiring anything she plunged into a narration of her much missed(which I deduced later) premarital life.
"We have been married for two months now…"
("How do you bear that smoker!" I thought.)
I smiled in response.
Too many smiles…yes…I am aware of that. I am really thankful to Her to give us this expression. It makes up for the failure to find apt words many a times.
"I was a teacher, used to take tuitions as well. The kids adored me! They wouldn't leave me alone even on a holiday!"
"Nice…"
I appropriately replied.
"I was also a state level athlete and a Kho-Kho player."
"Wow!",
was my genuine response. Her tall and slender frame supported the fact. Not that I doubted her…just that I had noticed it already.
"So? What do you do now?"
She ignored the question ( That's what I think she did.) and went on to say,
"We are on our way to Gwalior. I have my in-laws there. My father-in-law is ill"
"Will you do a job again?"
I tried again.
This time she stopped to look at me and at that very precise moment her devil of a husband chose to reappear, reeking of smoke.
She turned away from me (Did I imagine it or was there actually a relieved expression on her face?) and proceeded to fulfill her 'good wife' duties.
"Want to have lunch?" He nodded in assent.
She took out the lunch basket and offered me one of the delicious looking Methi paranthas. I politely declined with the warnings of DD and my Mom ringing loud in my ears. I had been more conversational with her than is advised, though it would have been difficult to do otherwise with her disarming attitude.
I again gazed out of the window counting the trees as they rushed by listening at the same time to their conversation.
Boring…I thought as I recalled that brief expression on her face. After her sudden and unexpected recital of the life she had lost I was able to apprehend a bit.
Maybe she saw in my life some things she wanted in hers too?
Like…being independent?
Maybe I made her realize her loss with more severity?
Maybe she was seeking appreciation for her lost 'Self' once again…even if by a complete stranger?
Four hours passed as these disturbing thoughts occupied me.
I remembered the faces of all the aunties( the best I could) who looked at us with very loving expressions on their faces, smiling at our constant jabber and sometimes for no reason.
I leave it to you to draw more conclusions. I have mine.
The train was standing at Mathura Junction. I picked up my luggage, bid a farewell to the pair and made my way out. As I passed by the window I looked inside and to my pleasant surprise I found her looking back. We waved a final good bye as the train started to move in opposite direction to mine.
It struck me just then that I had not even asked her name...

22 comments:

swapnil said...

Whoa!!
Captivating!!
and not as long as i expected it to be.. :D



PS:I(too)thought DD does amuse you..!

(pssst..she does right??)

Incomprehensible Idiot. Eternal Dreamer. Talkative Toon. Murty. said...

Stranger or no stranger- you ignored methi paranthas! C'mon! Anyhoo, on an even more stupid note, I'd have been thankful the conversation didn't go further- the aunties' expressions would've been too hard to bear!

Amogh said...

I didnt know you had a blog too. Nice post.
A lot of times we just connect with arbit people without even knowing their names. Yeah even today a lot of married women unfortunately cant work even if they want to.

Shweta Rao said...

encounter of an everyday kind, etched up wonderfully well...was tired of waiting for you new post. good you wrote this one. and about that beatific expression aunties/uncles give young bright souls, who knows, maybe longing may be nostalgia...and ya, when someone says,s/he's been married shortly, i think means "i got've my partner...n wat about you, loser!" or is my imagination reeling far to wild??? :-)

khush said...

hey...nice!!!
in ur not so long meeting vid d lady..u did a really gud analysis on her.. :-)
dats so PRACHI!!!
needless 2 say.. gud work!!!

Yasin said...

hey.....very interesting post..........and gr8 thoughts to follow it up.....

Aditya said...

hey, no comments :P

Sandeep Mishra said...

Nice post, well framed and beautifully styled. But yaar, methi ka parantha to bilkul nahi chhodna chahiye tha. To be cautious, u cud have waited for those ppl to have theirs' 1st :D

Prachi said...

Thnx All!
@Swapnil
What happened to The Sage?

P.S. No comments! I value my life you know!

@Murty
Ok...so now I know what would have happened if I ever hear that you didn't reach your destination...

@Amogh
Thanx!
Well I wasn't exactly going around singing it loud...though I did do a fair amount of publicity!
N my compliments on being more responsive than some swell headed people who used your lappy to read it.

@Shweta Di
Yeah...what I thought too...
N she might have meant..."two months since I committed virtual suicide!", more probable coz she knew by den dat I was a student...

@Khush
Is it really like me to do an analysis?
Wasn't aware of dat!

@Aditya
Jawahar is just a stone's throw away...n remember my plans of sneaking in?!I am giving a serious thot to them now...

@Mishra Sir
Separate paranthe bhi ho sakte the na!

swapnil said...

The Sage's down with a pink eye.He'l be back soon i guess.

PS-NicE dodge..! :D
I'l take it as a.....nothing
(i wanna live too..)

mescaprices said...

yeah, it is a pain to stick that fake smile on your face, out of courtesy for a stranger and no, not everyone out there in the world wants to kill you... so, we CAN be pleasant towards stranger.
n 'DD means what it sounds in Hindi'?
you are making her sound so 'Ancient'; and im all for it! :D
nice post! makes me realize the importance of free-will.

Prachi said...

@ Mr. Legs(im in quest for a better name!)Whoa!
Finally... I am honoured!
Mr.Legs finds my blog gud enuf to comment on!
Oh! I can't contain my happiness!
N I kno nt every1 out dr wnts to kill me(campus is a very small part of d wrld!) bt smtyms i thnk i do...
n my smile wasn't fake...
n yeah...thnx...

Saagar said...

Hi.
Good post. Reflects some of the problems that India faces even today (the lady's plight) but at the same time also how they'll soon, hopefully, be a thing of the past (you). Or so I thought.
And Mr. Legs? Or am I being too curious?

Prachi said...

@Saagar
:)...feels grt to have a comment frm u!
thnx...
n I certainly hope so!
About Mr.Legs...dr's a story behind it...ask him 2 elaborate...for nw...it's just a comment on his height!

Anirudh Arun said...

Nice story... Though I like relaxing on train journeys - the back-and-forth rocking puts me to sleep. Anyway I limit it to those smiles and don't try delving too deeply into the minds of fellow passengers (Its too much of a strain).

ratika said...

feminism...feminism....feminism...
for once change d focus yaar!!

Prachi said...

@Ratika
Just because I am saying it doesn't mean that 'I' wrote it with a feministic view you know!
But then...I definitely do not want to change my 'focus' if that makes me lose my sensitivity to such incidents!
Though I would like to add that...I am not all about feminism...thought u knew that by now but it's alrite...I am used to being typecasted...

Shreyas said...

Nice post, well written! Nowadays, its really hard to find people during journeys who don't bore you to death with stories about their great grandsons.. Considering you mustly probably consider yourself lucky that you found someone you could associate with.

P.S: Please can you change the font colour, the blue really hurts my eye. Or is it just me?

Naveen said...

really nice post!!

karthik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karthik said...

nice post...
But, I've been a wee bit lucky on most of my train journeys!
Meeting interesting(in more ways than one) ppl every time! :P
the most recent one i met on a train was a ...... Wait for it.....
Kingfisher model ! :D
God's great.

Prachi said...

@Anirudh
Thanx...Believe me I would love to journey sleeping but something makes it impossible for me to doze off while travelling!

@Shreyas
Thanx...N well...I can look pretty disinterested if something like that happens...try being more expressive...
About blue...its my third favourite color after black n white...let me see if I can find a decent theme based on these...

@Naveen
Thank You!

@Karthik
Thanx n plz..
GET A LIFE!