Life is just like a train journey, continuously moving sometimes slow sometimes fast! Moving incessantly is a natural phenomenon of train same is with life. With passing time, the travellers change, new passengers board in whereas old passengers get down on reaching their destination. Similarly in life, one meets new persons and parts with others. Life is such!
Smriti, a beautiful gal in her late twenties loved to travel by train, her joy got doubled if by chance she met someone known in the journey, time fleet so swiftly while chatting when the destination came, when the journey is completed, went totally unnoticed. After buying the ticket, she boarded in the train, placed her luggage on the upper birth, took out ‘The Lowland’ by Jhumpa Lahiri from her handbag and started reading it. The engine’s whistle blew, train moved slowly, picked up the speed and reached the next station, and she didn’t come to know as she was absorbed in reading about Subhash and Udayan – two fictional brothers. Pushing each other, hurriedly people were getting down from the train and those who wished to get on the train were almost throwing their bags from the windows to reserve their seats and were thrusting themselves inside the train from the doors as they couldn’t enter from the windows with grills fitted in between. The noise disturbed her and she raised her eyes from the book to look at this hustle and bustle. Amidst this, she heard a familiar voice, “Hey, you here?” She instantly turned her head in the direction of sound and found Komal, her old batch-mate standing there. In few years, her silhouette had completely transformed from a slim girlish body to a fatty aunty. Her long plait like a black cobra had now taken a shape of a beautiful round bun, light jewellery of gold was novated into huge sized artificial jewellery, small bindi on her forehead had grown bigger and was shinning more. She had put on weight but her lovely smile was the same as in the college days. It had broadened with the time!
She asked, “Didn’t you recognise me?”
Smriti smiled and stood up. She hugged her friend tightly and after arranging her bags on upper birth with great difficulty they both started chatting about their college, about old friends, about movies, about this and about that. In conversation with Komal, she came to know that presently she was doing a job in private company, her husband had a business of wooden furniture, resided in a rented flat in Bhiwani and now she was a mother of two cute twin boys. These days they were constructing their own house in Delhi and to supervise the work, she was going there.
Komal asked, “So, what are you doing these days?”
“I have recently joined my family business of designer jewellery.” Smriti replied.
“And what about marriage plans?”
“After some time, I will see! Right now, busy with some big assignments from U.S. and Europe.”
“You are going to be thirty soon, even then you are delaying it. Will you get married when you have grey hair and only a few teeth in your mouth and will not be able to see your groom properly without wearing spectacles?” She teased her.
“It’s just like that!” Smriti looked here and there to change the topic but couldn’t find a suitable one.
“Is there someone whom you love?” Before Smriti could say anything Komal uttered, “Didn’t I tell you about my love? How I met him? How I had a great time with him? Which gifts I bought for him? I didn’t hide anything from you. And see, you are not sharing anything. Say something, who is he?”
“Somebody.” Smriti didn’t want to disclose at this stage of her relationship but Komal was too eager to know.
Komal fired questions at her, “What he does? What is his name? Where does he live? How is his personality? Is he fair coloured or dark complexioned? Is he tall or short in height? Is he bald or have long hair? Where did you meet him? Did you converse with him on various aspects of life? Did you go with him to watch an English movie and have a corner seat? The last question she whispered, “Did you have sex with him?”
On seeing silence of Smriti, impatiently Komal said, “Tell me I can’t wait any more.”
It was rather impossible to escape from the questions of Komal so Smriti started narrating her story somewhat reluctantly, “Dristi, who was in my stream in M.Sc., on her b’day, I met him. He was fair, handsome and a strong and sturdy person. On that day, he was wearing navy blue colour coat and pant.”
“A featherless peacock!” Komal laughed not so loud on her own joke.
Smriti didn’t like her comment as the beauty of peacock is because of its feathers. She didn’t express her resentment but continued with her story, “He was meeting everyone decently. He sang the song ‘My heart is fleeting!” in his melodious voice.
“Oho, so he is a cuckoo as well!”
Smriti’s anger busted, “Stop comparing him with birds. You can compare him with some celebrity like Michael Jackson, Enrique Igless etc.”
“Phew! In the first meeting you went crazy about his face and voice.”
Smriti nodded. “Later I came to know from Dristi that he was working in a multinational company and earning a good pay package. Like youth of our country he too wished to go to a foreign land.”
“Then, what is the problem in getting married?”
“His elder sister will get married after three months. She will flewto Canada after marriage. All her in laws are NRIs. He is busy with the arrangements of her marriage as well as Visa. After that he will think about his marriage.”
“How much property they have?”
“He has his own house and two three shops in a shopping mall where foot fall is quite good.”
“Does he reside in your city?”
Smriti smiled and said, “Then I wouldn’t have wasted so much of time in taking only seven rounds around the fire with him.”
“Then where he lives?”
“After he got the job, he shifted to Pink city, Jaipur. He is presently residing in house no. 20 of Mayapuri Colony.”
“You are telling me the complete address as if I am going right now to meet him.”
“You told me about him but you forget to tell me his name – his identity!”
“How can I take his name? In our caste, girls are not allowed to speak husband’s name, sounds quite orthodox but we are like this.”
“He is not your husband. Right?”
“Hmmm…ok. I will tell you something interesting about his full name that it begins with letter ‘L’ and ends with letter ‘L’.”
“Are you talking about Lalit Mittal?” An elderly person sitting on the opposite birth said whose eyes were sorrowful and red. It seemed that he was crying hard from past few hours. Hearing this Smriti was about to fall from the seat only if Komal was not holding her hand. Smriti nodded and couldn’t utter a single word because of tornado of questions arising in her mind. She was starring him without blinking. May be he read Smriti’s mind and explained, “I am Lalit’s uncle. And I am returning back after attending his funeral possession. Yester night he died in a car accident. It will be better for you to forget him.”
All of a sudden, Smriti’s life came to a halt. The train stopped. He got down from the train, might be he had reached his destination. Smriti’s all dreams were shattered. She was feeling as if a strong earthquake had destroyed her house before it could even be built up.
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