An everyday train experience.
|I wait at the platform looking at my watch impatiently. The train is late again. I look around. A lot of women with their annoying, crying little children are also waiting for the train. I curse myself again for forgetting to get my First Class Pass renewed. Thanks to that, I have to travel with this crowd for the distance of an hour. I am late for my college. Just then a girl who looks about 13 years comes with another girl who looks a little older. Both of them have 3-4 flat boxes in their hands, piled one on top of other. The younger ones’ salwar kameez looks dirty and is patched in places. The older one is wearing a mismatched blouse with a saree. They have dirty hair tied up in a bun. Both of them are wearing artificial jewellery. They are gaily chatting about something. Their insistent chatter irritates me. The train finally arrives. Suddenly, there is a lot of pushing and I am tossed from one place to another like a rag doll, as everyone jumps in the train to get a decent seat. Stumbling, I get in the train and get a fourth seat from a woman who grumblingly shifts.
As we settle down, those two girls come and start saying in a nasal voice “bindee, cleep, buckal, rubbberbend! Bolo kya du memsaab?” That irritates me further. I do my utmost to scowl at them. The younger one catches my eye and seems amused. She starts coming in my direction but the older one hits her lightly on the shoulder and shakes her head. I realize that she has also seen my expression. I make my scowl more distinct to make sure that my message is loud and clear. I get a savage satisfaction out of it.
They go on to do business in other compartments. When they return to my compartment, the train is considerably emptier. I am 20 minutes away from my destination. My mobile phone beeps. It’s my friend calling. She says the professor has reached the class. I grow nervous and swear loudly. I replace my cell phone in my bag and look up. The same small girl is laughing at me.
I get a sudden surge of anger. With a lot of difficulty, I look away. After I’m considerably calmer, I look back at her and there she sits, right opposite to me. She pretends to be very angry, and laughs again. Her crass efforts at imitating me are anything but funny. I find it humiliating. I look around. There are very few people left in the compartment. No-one seems to have noticed her. She continues to laugh at me.
Suddenly, the older girl appears, smiling. She looks at me, keeps a hand on the younger ones’ shoulder and gestures towards the door. The younger one suddenly looks disappointed. I realize I was her source of fun. She looks at me, smiles in a disheartened way says “bye!” to me in a hyperbolized way and gets down at the station. I realize I have a smile on my face. I wave at her from the window.
I will later see her several times trying to sell her sundries to passengers and she will always smile and wave at me.