As soon as we hear the word “Train”, the first picture which comes to our mind is of the Mumbai’s local train from our memories emanating from what we saw in the movies appearing on television where the train is full of people filled to the hilt, some people’s bodies protruding out of the compartment, some adjusting somehow within the space available but all eager to go to their intended destinations, may be office, may be home. I used to think what a difficult and terrible life it must be to risk one’s life traveling in such a rush. However, I used to long for train travel because of the fun involved in watching places pass by as the train speeds past those places.
Being born and brought up in a small town called Meerut and residing within a joint family, I never got a chance for the train journey. However upon completing my graduation, for our further studies, I got a chance to travel by train & that too, for a long journey of almost 24 hrs. Can you imagine my excitement? It was equal to that person who has never seen the sea or felt the waves but is excited about the first touch of sea waves to the bare naked foot, to the body and walking on the beach with footwear held in one’s hands.
The only difference between what I am going to describe now and earlier memories of local train being was that the train ticket was already booked and we were certainly not going to hang from the door of the train. So I started the preparation of train journey in right earnest with the zeal of a kid and began thinking that I would be seated beside the window and will read my favourite novel sipping a cup of hot tea, would watch the beautiful scenery passing by, listen to my favourite songs and would alight on each and every railway station to have a look on what are the eatables, snacks that are on offer. And my ultimate and most dangerous dream was to hold on to the handle of the entrance of the train compartment and peep out and feel the gush of wind.
And finally the day arrived, when I started my journey from Meerut to Delhi and thereafter from Delhi to Pune. As the final destination was Pune and there was no direct train connectivity from Meerut to Pune, so we needed to catch the train from Delhi itself. Hence, we hired a taxi for travel from Meerut to Delhi. In all, we were seven girls, out of which, four were from Meerut and three from Delhi.
My father did the job of booking a taxi for all four of us. My father knew the taxi driver, so the anxiety over the girls’ and especially her daughter’s safety was taken care of. But at the last minute, the taxi driver did not turn up due to some reason.
Now we and our family members were anxious as to how would we reach Delhi in time to catch the train from Delhi to Pune. Finally, we decided to travel by train. However, though the tickets were not booked in advance, still we had to travel immediately because the train journey from Delhi to Pune was already planned.
As travel by train from Meerut to Delhi was a last minute decision, so somehow we reached Meerut railway station, and as soon as reached there, we, small town girls were witness to a huge swathe of people walking, running here and there from one platform to other in search of their train, their seats/berths, some rushing to the enquiry counters for enquiring about the actual arrival time of their trains and so forth. We were amazed and at the same time afraid of the rush but there was no other way to avoid the rush and still be able to catch the train, so we bought the tickets and boarded the train, that was full to the brim. Somehow we adjusted our luggage, now the important issue was where to sit or stand as there was absolutely no space at all. Imagine I am traveling in a train for the first time in our lives and were witness to a spectacle of a jam-packed compartment where there was no space to even stand, let alone sit. Being girls, we were feeling a little awkward but we had no option but to somehow adjust ourselves in the crowd. So wherever we got some space, we adjusted ourselves. The compartment had such a scene- I was standing in front of a seat which would normally accommodate 6 people in all but almost 22 were sitting, on lower as well as on upper berth.
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Then as the train started, we somehow waved our hands and bade good-bye to our beloved family members. My mom, who had come to see us off, was sobbing. At that moment I had a thought as to why the hell I was going away from my sweet home and that too almost 1400 kilometers away. Gradually, the train gathered speed and thereafter the people started adjusting themselves in whatever little space they could find and with the feel of the wind, now it was a little bit more comfortable.
I was standing so were my three friends though we were a bit far away from each other. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, one young lad stood up and offered me his seat. Although at first, I said no, later on, I thanked him with a little smile and took the seat.
In the mean while, people were already in the process of conversation with their newly found co-traveller friends. There was one traveler who seemed to me to be Pandit Ji type, aged around 40, most probably from Uttar Pradesh, quite talkative he was talking in full volume and heartily laughing and joking. Out of nowhere, he seemed to start his stories. Here we all were, with no space to even stand and there he was telling stories and delighting himself as well as his fellow travelers. He somehow seemed to make us forget our immediate troubles and worries. His sense of humor was remarkable. One young man who was sitting exactly in front of me, maybe of the same age group as mine, was also enjoying jokes and all, and after some time almost all passengers were involved in delighting to his jokes and everyone was laughing heartily. The young boy also had a good sense of humor, he never forgot to comment after each and every sentence of Pandit Ji, and that sentence created even more humor.
Now almost everybody was enjoying including me and in between we both (young boy and myself) unknowingly and innocently created a sweet relation between both of us. After each and every sentence of his, we started looking at each other and laughing heartily. In the revelry, I almost forgot my other three friends. As our chemistry matched, we started enjoying more. Now we reached a situation where we both were conversing as if we knew each other for a long time and we both started predicting the reaction of other to the joke or a sentence which the other was saying. While looking at each other we got to know, what will be the reaction and in between we were bit avoiding each other too because we know if we look and at each other then we can’t control on our laugh. In the merrymaking, we did not realize that the journey was about to finish. We felt as if it was too short a journey which should be prolonged and go on and on.
As we reached the New Delhi Railway station, now the hurdle was taking out our luggage which was on a slightly heavier side and getting off from the train amidst that heavy rush. Somehow I started to pull my bag from the seat below and that guy came forward to help me and removed and carried my luggage and put it down on the platform as well. Now came the time to say good bye to that guy, and it was like I knew him from ages but still did not know his name even. On the other side, my mind was thinking about how to catch the next train. So in a hurry, I passed him a smile, thanked him and said goodbye. The moment I said bye, he put forward his hand and we shook hands and said bye once again. Thereafter, as I became busy in collecting the luggage and finding my other three friends, for a moment a thought ran across my mind -shall I ask his name or number?, where he is going, what he is studying but on a second thought, I realized why to enquire so much as we both were probably not going to meet again. So I thought it was better leaving it here. Neither did he ask my name or number and nor did I.
Now it was time to undertake the longer journey from New Delhi to Pune, our final destination. We located the platform from where our train for Pune was slated to leave and started to settle in yet another train. Now it was quite easy as our seats were reserved. We possessed full seat space and were feeling more comfortable. Now I was on seventh heaven being on my dream seat, that is the window seat, but whatever I had planned earlier for me, I was not in a mood to do. Neither did I want to read a novel nor have tea. At that moment I was reminiscing the lovely time which I had just spent with that boy and just wanted to relive and go back in those moments and how I wished it should have never finished.
But in my mind, I knew it was not possible to carry on that sweet little chirpy relationship as that moment had passed now. And now I was feeling as if my heart was empty. Even now, after 12 years still those wonderful happy moments are live in my heart and I know they would always remain with me. Even now after 12 years, as soon as I remember those moments, automatically a smile brightens my face. Such lively and wonderful moments those were. I think that relationship was not an attraction between a boy and girl, even we didn’t try to impress each other, we just enjoyed and relished that time. I think I can give a sweet name to the relationship-‘bina matlab ka pyra rishta’.
Even now I still wish, if God ever gives me a second chance to live any moment of my past life, surely I would like to relive those moments. And in my inner heart, I wish he somehow gets hold of this story of mine and reads it and contacts me. I am waiting for that miracle to happen as I know miracles do happen in life. And even if the miracle does not occur, I have no regrets or sorrow in my heart as I know those were simple happy moments between two same aged, young and like-minded individuals who were simply having fun and making the most out of that otherwise boring train journey jam-packed with people everywhere. Neither am I dying to meet that guy.
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