The minute dial of huge station clock was motioning from 8:25 pm to 8:26 pm…
I took a quick glance at it and rushed fervently, taking as long strides as my three feet legs allowed me to. My half-shaking frame piped its way through the heavy traffic down the Howrah station, shuffling and squeezing in between the narrow and at some places nowhere lines of the buses, taxis, tourists, cars, coolies, vendors, daily passengers, pickpockets, hawkers, beggars, destitute, homeless, lepers, addicts, pimps, police, military, piles of baggage and merchandise… in a state of daze. Frankly, I myself did not know what kept me moving. My eyes were revolting to burst out desperately much against the imposition I was enforcing on them. The only thing that kept my feet running though somewhat insanely through the sea of perennial commuters was the departure time of the train.
The train was about to leave in just four minutes and it was the last train bound to my station. I cannot miss it under any situation. So I ran…
I was passing through the entry gate as my ears heard the announcement readily going on in three languages, English, Bengali and Hindi …the departure time of the train- 8:30 P.M, Platform No. 13. The security at the gate searched my bag carelessly for perhaps time-bombs and dynamites! Just 2 minutes left! TIME and INSECURITY… can a life ever evade it even with everything… I don’t know and standing in the midst of the whirlpool crowd neither it was the right moment to research on it!
My lungs felt hardly human after the elongated battle I fought for the last three hours. As soon as I got hold of my harmless possessions I ran inhumanly through the station crowd of day’s end. I saw some gentlemen and ladies making faces as they repeatedly failed to walk steadily keeping their dignity along with them when pushed by the crowd. This was the station where all distinction failed in front of the running time, the downward heads completely engaged in their drooping thoughts just did not cared who was beside them. It stated a day in Kolkata – finished with today, preparing for tomorrow.
As I passed the first few meters of platform no. 13, I could feel the thickness of first December fog that has quite dully and comfortably settled itself to the ground. The arrival of the train suddenly puffed the whole air into wild motion. A sharp cold gush of wind passed directly into my nostrils. I shivered. Like venom it acted in my nostrils and I broke into a paroxysm of loud freaky gurgling cough. But still I continued my unsteady march, mindlessly… thoughtlessly… I didn’t wish to think either…
I still had quite a distance to cover to get the train. Some hooligan perhaps read the disorderliness of my agitated state and took the absolute use of situation! He groped my breast and flew like a mosquito into the thin air… leaving a sharp pain to follow…
This sudden shock did it for me! All my sense of restrain, all my capacity to withhold gave up… the flimsy curtain that was obstructing my vision still now, suddenly busted open, rippling down like the first monsoon rain not to dry soon. I could feel the strange faces peering at me with curiosity. Catching even a short glimpse I could read the amusement in their faces. It is perhaps in human nature to look for a story that is burning. I was looking stranger than a phantom perhaps- my insane look supplying them a burning story.
I was conscious enough that I was running very incoherently, like some apparition lost from within. I had to. I was supposed to take the 7:50 train but that devil in order to clarify his own suspicions kept me stranded till the last second. Missing this train means I have to lodge at some friend’s house and next day I will have to face the wrath of my parents and both him, yet again! Something I was not prepared for. That worthless will never admit his faults… cook up another story… that I missed the train intentionally. I already had enough for today. My stability was giving me up.
Thankfully, even with my bad luck following me like some inerasable shadow, I somehow managed to board the train. Thanks to the Indian population I could not see the floor beneath. This being the last train carried the maximum commuters. I squeezed into the little space of in between and stood with my hands clutching my bag and my shawl. The crowd fenced me from every side in such a way that there was not an inch of space for even limb movements. So, I didn’t require holding the rail and hanging like some soaked cloth. I detested it the most.
But even in this over crowded train I had to admit I was standing in much solace. Much Myself!
I closed my eyes. I wanted some peace to settle back, make me feel human again. At least, for few seconds…
I heard the whistle blow. The wheels slowly and precisely took its rhythmic nonchalant motion of rumbling and thumping. In my effort to try to compose myself back I concentrated on the great thudding of the wheels. I could measure its frequency with my own heartbeat. Only this was monotonously rhythmic, producing steady momentum and mine was dynamically fast ready to explode like a dynamite. But as the wheels took speed my fragile pulse felt much better.
Unpleasant thoughts of the day filtered into my consciousness. It was filled with the anguish and exasperation of the day. The whole thing started with a trifle issue. I happen to meet an old friend of mine by chance and spoke to him for maybe a minute or two. That was the whole reason behind three hours long interrogation of “why did he speak to me?”, making me feel criminal for a passing ‘hi’, ending with me missing my first train and running for this one like a lunatic. Trust is an unknown word for skeptics like him. And in a relationship, there cannot be anything more miserable and painful than your fidelity being questioned every minute.
My mind was completely drained. It was the last thing in the world I wanted to think about. I deviated back my concentration to the steady chanting of the wheel. The train was moving quite fast now. Out of the shallow fringes of the city it was roaring through the open fields. The air was too sharp but strangely it made feel good.
I was melting…
I wanted to take myself out of this world at least for a few seconds. My soul was already drenched with the brutality of love, the ramification of commitment! I knew I was trapped and that I have no where to go. It was keeping up a dead relationship because I have once given my commitment to it and my conviction just won’t let me betray . I was sick of it – daily testifying my fidelity, stripped of my solemnity. I became a non-bailable convict arrested because I made the mistake of loving someone.
My phone rang. I looked at it. Just the name whipped me out in a scythe. I had to receive it though.
“hello”; a shaking voice passed out of me. I didn’t know whether it was audible or not.
“where are you?’
A big lump forming in my throat, no voice came at first.
“in the …train”, I answered quietly.
“is there someone with you?
“Why is your voice sounding like that? I hear some other voices. There is someone with you. I knew you are having an affair behind my back? Tell me who is he? ”
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