na, na, na…not a love story

When he saw the reservation chart declaring his allotted seat as RAC B6 31, he had only one word for it, ‘yuk!’. Already he was in a bad temper. The bus conductor had charged him extra for his apparently small luggage. If only the conductor had told him before, he would never have boarded that bus.

‘Now, where the hell is the platform 5?’ He was standing on platform 3. On the other side, there was platform 4. After which, there were only railway lines and with good-carriage trains on them. This was an ideal situation to ask for local help. The tea vendor told him it was at the backside of platform 4.’ Huh, backward?’ And as he moved in the specified direction, suddenly the platform took a little turn and a railway line started. Sure enough, a sign on the pole declared ‘platform 5’. Ingenious way of working in a limited space!

http://ourdailyfred.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/slow-train.jpg?w=426&h=283

When the train arrived on the platform, dragging his suitcase and ruck-sack, which had testimonies of his mom’s affections, he reached his RAC seat. He swiftly placed his luggage beneath the berth so as to occupy the maximum space and then waited for the other person with whom he was going to share the seat. Already it was a side-lower berth meaning it had less space compared to the opposite ones. It was sure that he wouldn’t be able to sleep. He just prayed for a good company. If the person wouldn’t delight him, at least he shouldn’t disturb him. Deep in these thoughts, he plugged earphones into his ears and plunged into music. After a while, he felt train moving. “Good, so he couldn’t catch it. He must be a bit too late.” Happy with his conclusion, he increased the volume of his music player.

***

He felt a soft pat on his shoulder. He moved around to see that a girl, wearing orange kurti over a black salwar with her shoulder-length hair untied, was saying something to him. She was carrying a back-pack. In one hand, she had her hand-bag while the other one was busy in holding her hair in place. He took out his earphones and asked rudely, “What?”

“Is this B6 31?”

“Yes, it is. Can’t you read it?”

“Yes, I can. But I am not sure about the coach. As I was bit late, I had to board into the coach, whichever came first to me.”

“Okay. Yes, it is B6 31…uhh… sorry, bit of bad temper.” he said,realizing he was talking to a girl who didn’t come across your eyes often. She was a thing of beauty. Despite her repeated efforts, her hair kept on coming in front of her face. When she tried to move them away from her face, she looked more beautiful.

“It’s alright.”, saying this, she smiled and then started arranging her back-pack in whatever space was left beneath the berth.

“Oh, I can help you with that”, saying this, he rearranged his luggage in a less aggressive manner. “umm…and what’s your name?”

“Jwala”, saying this, she continued to arrange her luggage carrying female paraphernalia.

He had expected that she would ask his name.  After her arrangements done, he hadn’t expected her to take out a book from her bag either. She chose the opposite corner, sat there with one leg beneath her and the other one folded. She started reading her book ‘When you can’t stop talking’ as the train moved on. He threw himself to the other corner. He took out one book and pretended to read it. “What does she think of herself? What if she is beautiful? If she gives a smile, all boys would start licking her feet. Go to hell!”He again plugged his earphone and started listening to the song ‘Mora piya mose bolat nahi‘ (My beloved is not talking to me) in the repeat mode of the player.

***

A few hours later, over the sound of the song playing, he heard the unusual loud sound of somebody clapping. He knew eunuchs were coming and therefore, lowered the volume. He now pretended to sleep. He heard them approaching nearer. He thought, “Jwala, being a girl, would not worry about them. She would be surely seeing my response. I don’t know what to do. Should I quietly give them a 10-rupee note? No, no, I would just pretend that I am in deep sleep.”

Somebody started caressing his cheeks. It was the second human contact for him during the day. It wasn’t soft. It was repulsive. He was just bidding his time. The eunuch said, ‘ Aey uth na, janu. Abey de na.

He didn’t move. Now the hand drifted towards his chest, opening his shirt-button. He had to do something. But what? Now, Jwala stopped pretending that she could continue reading when something interesting was going to happen.

Opening his eye, he quickly sat upright and said, ‘ aey de na, de na! kab se intzaar kar raha hun ki ab degi, ab degi. deti kyun nahi?’

‘ oh! toh tu bhi wahi hai.

haan, main bhi wahi hun‘, putting one finger on the chin, he answered in a womanish voice.

Hearing this, the eunuch blushed. Other passengers laughed. Jwala smiled. And with that, ice between them did break.
***

Despite the train rocking passengers in its way towards destination, people had made themselves comfortable. It didn’t look like they had just boarded the train. Some had taken out snacks from their bags, while some were just talking. Children had started playing their games which grown-ups  didn’t bother to understand. And there were vendors selling different stuff like tea, coffee, samosa, biscuits.

On one of the side lower-berths, a strong undercurrent of emotions was flowing.

“A sunny day with patches of clouds in the sky. Today’s weather is just perfect, don’t you think?”, he said, looking outside through the window.

“hmm… right.” , buried in the book, she mumbled.

“I know it would make anybody angry the way I talked to you.”

na, na, na… I wasn’t angry.”

“hmm…oh, but you should have been!”, he said facing her. However, all he could see was the book’s cover.

“I don’t get angry that easily.”

“Had anybody else been in your place, she would have fought with me. Already you must be in bad mood as you got late, right? “

na, na, na… I wasn’t in a bad mood either.”

“ah, good…your book looks like a novel. Murder mystery?”

na, na, na…”, still buried in the book, she mumbled.

“Fanatsy?”

na, na, na…”

“Romantic? I suppose that should have been my first guess.”

na,na, na..”

He went back to gazing fields outside through the window. For how long could he stare at the cover of a book?

He was not liking the repeated usage of ‘na, na, na…’ a bit. In fact, he was getting irritated. Already she wasn’t going easy on him.

https://i1.wp.com/ak1.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/888724/preview/stock-footage-view-of-passing-landscape-from-a-train-window.jpg

Just then a TTE arrived in the coach carrying the reservation chart with him. When he reached berth no. 31, checking their tickets, he said, “So, you two people are sharing this RAC berth. Okay, what’s your name, girl?… yes, Jwala! it’s my duty to ask you if there is any problem here?”

“Not yet.”, she said putting down her book.

“Good. In case, if there is any problem, I can arrange for a different seat. In the previous coach, we do have a similar pair. An elderly lady with a high-school student. So, we if you want to shift, both of you ladies can be together.”

“No, thank you, sir. It’s alright here.”

“Have a good day.”

“Oh, I thought you would go to the other seat”, he said to her as soon as the TTE left.

“And why would you think that?”,she asked back. This time her face was not hidden behind the book.

“As I was boring you so much with my stupid questions.”

na, na, na…on the contrary, I was boring you. The book was at such a critical juncture that I couldn’t resist it. And then who wants to go and sit with an old hag?”

This time he liked and enjoyed every bit of her ‘na, na,na…’. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling.

“okay…tell me about the book.”

“Oh, it’s nothing great. Just a usual romantic story.”

“But you said no when I asked if it was romantic.”

“Did I say that? Sorry. Must be deeply engrossed in…. Oh, no!”

Some tea vendor was pouring tea in a cup when a child came running and hit him. Child fell. Tea spilled on her kurti. The child started crying as soon as he fell. Children are quite good at knowing when to cry. Nearby passengers attention was on the child while his was on her.

“Can’t you see properly?”, he said in a raised voice to the tea-vendor.

“But, Saheb…”

“What is his fault? He was busy pouring tea in the moving train. He couldn’t see the child coming.”, she said while rubbing her kurti clean with a tissue paper that had just sprang out of nowhere.

“These parents also don’t take care of their children. Children keep on doing some nuisance or the other.”

Arrey, now if children wouldn’t do nuisance, who would?”

He couldn’t say anything further. She then went to the wash-basin.

“How could somebody be like this? I would not have been surprised if she had paid the tea-vendor for his loss. “, he grumbled to himself.

With nothing great to do, he took out his mobile and started looking through his SMS Inbox. After a few minutes, she came back. Seeing him busy with his mobile, she again started reading her book.

“Hi, I didn’t notice you came back.”

“Ya, you were sort of busy with your mobile.”

“hmm..was writing a poem.”

“Where? In the mobile?”

“Yes. Would you like to read it?”

“Do I have an option?”, saying this she gave a smile and started reading his poem.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Sure, but what is it for itself?
A thing of beauty is a joy forever
Sure, but would you like to be one yourself?

It’s natural to desire for everyone’s attention
Sure, but sometime won’t you like to parade around unnoticed
It’s natural to desire to be everyone’s sensation
Sure, but sometime won’t you like to hide behind shadows

You see your success in the eyes of others
Sure, but what if they speak of only their success
You see your success from the eyes of others
Sure, but what if they glorify your only success

Complaining lets off some desperation
Sure, but what if it takes away your divinity
Complaining lets off some frustration
Sure, but what if it doesn’t fit your description

Ya, a thing of beauty is a joy forever
Sure, but some things you want only as a souvenir.”

“It’s good… really good, especially considering that you wrote it within 15 minutes. Although somebody else might say that it’s negative about beautiful things. But anyway, it’s nice.”

“Leave about others. What do you think?”

“I already said. It’s good. Now don’t tell that you literally wrote it for me.”, sensing something she said it while looking into his eyes.

“Okay…not for you, but yes inspired by you.”

“In that case, are you complimenting or demeaning me?”

“Neither. Just thought this is how you… I mean, a thing of beauty feels like. “

“So, this is the title of your poem- How it feels like to be a thing of beauty.”

“Yes exactly, how do you know?”, he said astonished.

“I happen to know many other things. I also know that this poem is written by you.”, she said as if revealing a secret and started laughing.

“Okay, got it. Dumb question to ask. Now stop leg pulling. Tell me why don’t you complain?”

“About what?”

“About anything.”

“Simply because I don’t like complaining.”

“But there is nothing wrong in complaining.”

“There is. I don’t know if this is true for boys but certainly this is true about girls. My room-mate and I used to often discuss about it. If you complain about something, it takes away your positive energy. One doesn’t feel good after that. It affects us literally in a certain way.”

“Do you think that on the next morning of you complaining about anything, you would find a pimple on your cute face?”

“Ha,ha…Not that but still…”

“Strange.”

“But not stranger than this- today the train is on time. Looks like my station is just going to come. I’ll better hurry up.”, she said sitting upright suddenly. Leaving the book on the seat, she started pulling out her ruck-sack and placed it to on the berth. She took out a comb and mirror from her hand-bag and started combing.

As he knew he would not able to stop himself from staring her, while she combed her hair, he decided to go towards the toilet. Girls looked their best to him, when their one hand hold a comb while the other hold their hair in place. In the back of his mind, something else was going. Just when he thought it was going good, Indian Railways had ruined it for him. Whenever he wanted desperately to reach on time, trains were consistently late. But not this time.

He wanted some more time with her. Now how could he ask for her mobile number?  She hadn’t known him for long enough. If only, he hadn’t lost time because of her romantic book, which had turned totally unromantic for him, it could have been better. But what to do now? He was thinking hard.

He felt train slowing down. He could see train mocking at him, “What do you think trains are for-romance?”

He went back to the seat so that he could at least bid her adieu  She had tied her hair into a ponytail and looked like was just going to leave. She held her hand-bag and carried her ruck-sack on her back, and started moving towards the door.

“Hey, Jwala, wait! Your book”, he just noticed she had forgotten her book on the seat. When he picked up the book to give it to her, a small piece of paper, with something scribbled on it, dropped out of it.

“Oh, see, you are also leaving somebody’s number.”,saying this, he gave book along with the note to her.

“It’s for you, dumbo.”, giving him back the note.

“Oh…” He couldn’t believe his ears… “thanks…ah,can I call you then?”, he said as if proposing to her.

na, na, na…just keep on staring at it.”

Was she pink?

On that day, even in the evening, I was not getting customers frequently. I had to wait longer as compared to other days. On other days, market usually bustled with women bargaining for goods, children chit-chatting excitedly and couples taking a walk. But on that day, market wore a deserted look.

It had been raining all day. Not heavily, just a drizzle. It was one of those days when you like to rest cozily at home. I also felt that way and in the afternoon, I wanted to take my auto-rickshaw back home. But I couldn’t afford this. Looked like I was going to earn little less, but I continued to stay there on main road waiting for customers. I thought something is better than nothing.

It was only recently that I had migrated to this city and started my job.  My job was not very exciting but I got to travel a large part of the city. While I drove my Dhanno, I felt good. The most boring part of my job used to come when I had to do nothing but wait for customers. My friends also felt the same way. At those times, the whole of auto-stand looked like as if there was no one. But as soon as any customer came, the auto-stand became alive. Every one of us fought to see who gets his customer first. We all vied to get their attention. But ultimately it all depended on them to choose which auto for traveling.

I was lost in my thoughts when I saw a girl coming outside market and approaching the auto-stand. As I had seen her first, I quickly accelerated my Dhanno before anybody could. She was wearing pink shoes, pink top, and carrying a pink mobile and pink purse in her hand. Even her earrings were pink. At first glance, she looked a typical ‘pink’ girl.  But her black jeans gave her a smart look that somehow set her apart from those pink girls. She must be in her early twenties. When I reached near to her and asked where she wanted to go. She pretended not to see me and continued to look for an auto. It was a signal for me that she was not going to travel on my Dhanno. Now I had to look for another customer. Just then another auto-rickshaw came and she boarded it without asking anything. After she told where she wanted to go, the other auto driver started the meter and proceeded.

Why did she choose the other auto? The only difference between my auto and the other one was that the the latter was driven by an old man and I was a young man. As she was traveling alone, she apparently didn’t feel safe to travel with a young person and that too when it was getting dark. She gave another indication that she was not one of those pink girls. As I was pondering on this, I found myself facing an octogenarian who was asking me if I would go to M.G Road. I said, “Sure, sir!”

My destination was also in the same direction in which the girl had gone. I got curious to see where she was going. She didn’t look like the usual shoppers who carried shopping bags. She carried only her pink purse. It was also possible that she might be carrying her stuff in her purse. But she looked more like somebody who had a home nearby and was going to meet someone. I wanted to know if I was right. And more importantly, I wanted to see her again. For me, she was a species who wore pink, but was not pink.

After driving for about fifteen minutes, her auto took a left turn which didn’t lie in my route. If I followed her to that route, it would have taken me a bit longer to reach M.G Road. Usually, I didn’t follow this tactics, which was used by my friends to earn more money from the same customer. However, my curiosity got better of me. Also, the old man wasn’t paying much attention to the route. I took a left turn and continued to follow her auto. We were now in an residential area. So, it looked like I was right she was going to meet somebody.

 Although she had offended my Dhanno, now she didn’t keep me waiting long and only after a few minutes, her auto stopped in front of a building. As I was little behind her auto, by the time I passed the building, I couldn’t see her face but only watched her callipygian figure entering the ground floor which carried the hording declaring “Homemakers Training Institute” as its name.

So, she was pink, after all.

I just wished she should be logical

It all started when I decided to tell her that I like her. Well, the answer was understandable. She was not in the same college and who now believes in distance-relationship. It sounds like retro-style romance! Doesn’t it remind you of the era when wives of the kings would wait sincerely for their husbands to return from battle-field? So, she said no to me. Initially, I felt sad but soon realized she meant good for both of us.

This could have been the end of my story had we not met again in a restaurant. It was totally unexpected. I had gone there to order food for home . I was not much happy to carry out this responsibility. But when I saw her, I realized there is something good in everything.

Wearing bright yellow top on a Denim jeans, she was smiling and talking with her friends. Committed friends had told me that restaurants are the places which are best for break-ups. Obviously, they were wrong in my case.

I slowly went to her and said, “Hi! Remember me?” I expected that her smile would fade away on seeing me.
But no, she said, “Oh, I don’t believe it. It’s you! How are you?”

I said, “Great! How are you doing?”

She said, “mast!” And then she introduced me to her friends. I ate together with her friends (Luckily, I had no friends at that time.). After dinner, she bid her friends adieu and decided to go with me. I had started feeling good about that night. By that time, we had told each other about the present status of our lives. I knew she was going to ask that question now.
Her first question came out, “Tell me, when you proposed to me what things you found in me attractive?”

“I wanted to be with you because A) You are beautiful. B) You appear to me a logical person.
(I thought I had come up with one of the most romantic lines.)
“A logical person?”

“Ya, you try to understand everything using logic. That means I can argue comfortably with you. You can’t expect to win an argument if it’s not logically argued.”

“So, you think you are logically better than me and therefore, win an argument easily.”

“No, no, I meant if I even lose, I can justify logically to me why I lost the argument.”

“Did you want to be in a relationship with me just because you could argue well with me? Thank God! I said no. Bye!”

Sometimes, you want to just eat back your words. It was one of those moments.

But where did I go wrong? Is it illogical to want a logical girlfriend? No. I guess it’ wrong to tell her why you want such a girlfriend.

Still, I would say that restaurants are not that bad for love, but places outside restaurants might be.

A railway surprise that turned sour

Even before I had started packing my ‘clean’ clothes (I had washed them unlike my friends who had at least one thing for their mother), Shashank stormed (surprisingly! without any book in hand) into my room and declared that this time he would be going in Sleeper Class. He asked about mine and I replied with pride, “What else, Rajdhani”.

“Hey, bakwaas , nahi. Last time only you had gone in Sleeper, hadn’t you?”

“Oh, ho! That’s an entirely different issue. OK, tell me why Sleeper in this super-hot whether?”

“I thought for a change of plan. Last time I had gone in Rajdhani. Yaar,koi nahi dikhi. Kharab kismet! But you got one just opposite to your seat. This time I thanked papa for my Sleeper ticket. Go on Rajdhani and see by yourself there are only families and oldies. No girls, man“

“I know but I preferred comfort over being roasted raw for seeing some chicks. Let’s see if I am lucky.”
(Then suddenly Atharav enters carrying a book and sporting his pink shirt which he has been wearing for the last week.)

Bhediye! Pagal kahi ke!! Book lene se pehle puch toh liya hota. Hey! Why you are running. You just come within my reach”

(Shashank started chasing him.)

“Bye,Shashank!”

“You won’t get any girl. I’m sure’, he shouted back.
***************************************************
Next day, I packed my stuffs and started my journey to my home Mohannagar. Thanks to fantastic location of our college at Mohanpur, I had to leave hostel a good 3 hours early to reach on time. Nothing interesting happened usually during the bus trip and that was a usual day. On reaching station, I said, “Finally!” I quickly located the train and boarded into my bogey. When I entered, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

My goodness! I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were girls all around me. Whole pack of girls was struggling with their luggage. In my compartment only, out of 8 seats, 7 belonged to them. Apparently, they were going on a school trip.It took them some minutes to arrange their ‘extra-large’ luggages. One who had the largest one had to confess to her friends, who were helping her in pushing it below the seat, that she had packed only lucky no.11 tops in addition to usual female paraphernalia. As soon as they were comfortable, one of them recognized that I was sitting there and said,

“Uncle!…”

“Uncle mat kaho, yaar. Bhaiya chalega”

“OK! Bhaiya, if you could exchange your seat with one of the few we had in next bogey, it would be so sweet of you. All our friends could then sit together and chat.”

(I was in no mood to do that but for showing my sweetness, I had to leave that special bogey.)

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