7.45 a.m: I checked my watch twice and smiled for the first time in my two-year-job-life. I reached here before 8. The train was due for next fifteen minutes. I looked around, for the first time. I felt relaxed, for the first time.
Pataudi station appeared like a stranger to me in spite of our two-year-old acquaintance. Platform two, it read, though I always memorized it as the platform known for “Prakash Bookstore” which was visible as soon as you entered the station, provided no train stood in between. I walked towards the bookstore, for the first time, that day. The shopkeeper was an old-stressed man in mid-sixties.
Our family responsibilities make us aged soon because we have to retire from our dream even though we hadn’t given up on them yet. Especially for a man of my age over a woman.
I looked at that old man, thought of my mother’s expectation and sighed.
7.55 am: My watch murmured. And I looked in the direction of the train with hope, just like I look at my life.
“What’s the time?” a sweet voice hovered, in between station’s cacophony.
I turned in the direction of the voice. A girl in her mid-twenties, wearing off-white kurti with glittering earrings, looked at me with bewilderment. Without knowing, I observed her keenly. Drips of sweat broke out on her forehead; she immediately mopped it away with her arms, trying to prove that she was fine.
“7.57, to be exact,” I finally uttered after checking my cellphone.
“Delhi Cantt. Local hasn’t come yet, right?” she asked for assurance.
“No, it hasn’t,” I said and felt deeply pleased that we would be boarding the same train. I wanted to ask her to stop immediately, but that old man’s staring and egoistic look chided me.
With holy blessings, she sat on the seat opposite to mine though we’re constantly being pressed my fellow mates.
She looked far better now. I thanked dry wind of the train, but her lips constantly demanded to let them wet. Her hair was hurriedly tied up in a messy bun which I blamed on the cruelty of time as I could slyly relate to it.
Both of us managed to get into the same coach. Somehow I managed to get a seat opposite to her as the woman who had been sitting there woke up from her nap, hurriedly setting out not to miss her exact stop.
Train started running. I yawned at that moment.
“Where are you going?” words spilt out from my end even before I realized.
Her eyes widened a bit showing she wasn’t expecting that typical query from my end.
A job-material-looking man with no extraordinary looks or skills. An average man who went to the office with full sincerity and worked hard until his retirement day. Someone who whole-heartedly depended on his mother to find him a suitable bride. A boy who dreamed, but never dare.
“Delhi Cantt,” she answered, feeling assured of my intention.
Oh! Our stop is same” I said and smiled, knowing nothing else to do or say.
She felt uncomfortable at my remark. So, I said nothing further and looked out the window.
I was feeling like a college boy, whose crush was sitting in front of him. Delhi Cantt was still ten-fifteen minutes ahead.
In my twenty-year life, I saw many girls, gorgeous ones too, but this girl sitting made my heart to skip the earlier beats.
I glared at her properly when she was looking away from me.
She wasn’t so beautiful yet elegant. She wasn’t attractive as those hot ones, still so much attracted to me. She wasn’t looking at me, but I was. I felt happy. I felt extremely pleased meeting her.
Soon our destination came, and we drifted apart in our directions.
“What an irony, our destination was same yet differed” I wondered.
I watched her melting down along with the crowd. It happened within a fraction of seconds.
But I felt a tint of sadness. I recovered from it.
“That I met my crush, for the first time,” it might be with this solid thought.
A thought: a moment that reflected hope in me for one more time.
first published on my archived blog www.poeticlaces.com