Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Unlocking happiness :)

            "Sorry madam, there is no train to Mumbai from here."
            " Will I get a bus?" she pressed on. The man at the counter gave her an irritated look. It appeared that someone had pulled him out of bed for an emergency duty and he had more things on his mind than answering her.
            " There is no direct bus. You will have to wait for the morning bus to take you to the city. From there you can take a bus to Mumbai."
            "Morning!! What will I do all night here?" She asked him
            "You can wait in the goods room." Before she could ask him another question, he rose up to answer the phone in the small office.

            Dalia was on the verge of tears. No, no, she must not cry. She must not show fear. She headed towards the goods room. It was dark and swampy with only a single bench. A few unclaimed goods lay on the floor, eaten in bits and parts by the rodents infesting the room. How was she to stay there till dawn? Her phone battery had died and there was no charging point anywhere on the station. It was not even a station where passenger trains halted. It was just a goods train station and by a cruel twist of fate she had landed there!

            "This is my last chance to go Goa on a college trip. This time I want to go at any cost!!" She had stormed off to her room after an argument with her parents.
            The trip to Goa happened every year in summer or early monsoon. Twice she had been denied and once a plan with her best friend had also been stayed. She had become adamant and more than her own wish to go, it was about getting permission to go alone! It would have been different if her friends had been with her. It would have been fun and safe to let go with them. They had all moved out of college and started working or gone for higher studies. If only she hadn't got that stupid drop in a year... IT was futile to think of what could have happened. She had caught up on her grades and had worked very hard. She deserved this break. The friends in her new class weren't as close but there had been some bonding this year. IT would be an altogether new experience of exploring places and people. She so badly had wanted to go and finally her parents had relented!

           Excited and thrilled, she had boarded the train to Goa. As she had thought, it was rather a smooth and enjoyable journey. Her classmates, of course, had their own groups but they had easily included her. The night journey passed in a jiffy with all the card games and dumb charades and early in the morning they had reached Goa. The dampness in the air, cheerful mood of her companions had added to the pleasant atmosphere.
        Goa was everything that she had imagined it to be. The beaches, the food, the visit to pub and ofcourse lots of freedom. It was totally worth the trip. She couldn't believe how fast the 3 days rolled and it was time to leave. When their names were announced as per the train they were booked in, she was disappointed. Her name was not in the same train as her new made friends. If it was her group she would have adjusted somehow. The other train was already packed and the one she was allotted was to leave earlier so she had no time to think. She got into the bus for station with students from other colleges. She was exhausted with all the sight seeing and as soon as she settled on her seat, she was fast asleep.

        She was shaken awake rather rudely.
        "Wake up wake up.. We need to get out of this train" A male voice was shouting at her.
        She struggled to open her eyes.
        "This is an emergency. Passengers are requested to alight from this train and catch a bus to another station."
         His words rang in her ears and she skeptically began to grab for her bag and jacket. He was already striding ahead and she followed him out. The crowd outside was swarming the exit and she lost him in the sea of people. She was pushed out of the station towards the buses. She somehow got into the bus that was relatively less crowded.
        "This bus will go only till city!" the driver shouted from his seat.
        "Whaaattttttt??? This was going to other station right?"
        "Madam I have been shouting for half an hour that other buses are going to station, this will go to city."
        Frantically she pulled her bag and jumped out of the bus. The other buses had already set in motion and she ran after the last one but in vain. She was left stranded on a goods station all alone.

        She heard foot steps outside the goods store. She panicked. There wasn't anyone on the station other than a few homeless people. The door creaked and she jumped out of her skin when she saw a male silhoutte. She was numb when he entered the room. A beam of light fell on her face. 

      "What do you think you are doing here." 
      She saw his face and it seemed oddly familiar. The torchlight of his cellphone was directly on her. 
      " Why the hell did you get into that bus?" He asked her.
      "Ummm.." she didn't know what to answer.
       "Well this place stinks. I know of a better place." He picked up her bag.
      She pulled it back. With force.
       "Who are you?" She asked him.
       "Aarav and I know you are Dalia.. now lets go before it starts raining." 
       "Wait.. How do you know and where are we going?" 
       " See it is lightening outside. There's a village right outside the station, I m sure it is a much safer option to ask for shelter there than wait here. The last man on duty was leaving when I came here." 

         His words scared her. How could she trust him and just go with him? What if he was right about there being no official on station? 
        "I know it is difficult to trust but you have to. I climbed down from a freaking moving bus and I don't want to get drenched." He pointed at the ceiling which had begun to leak. It was already raining! 
        They walked out together, she pulling her bag with him and he leading her with a torchlight. His backpack was outside his windcheater and was sagging. Her own clothes stuck to her in the slight drizzle. She had an umbrella somewhere in her bag but she dared not search it now. They made it to the village just before it started thundering. The first door she knocked did not open. On she went to the second. It was the fifth house that agreed to take them in. 
         They sat in the outer room in the candle light. The lady of the house helped them get comfortable and offered sheets. She sat on the cot while he rested on the mat. She observed his face for the first time. His boyish face with full lips, his curly hair and his soft eyes. He was wide awake.

         "What? You need anything?" He asked when he caught her staring.
         "What happened to the train?" She asked him
         "Oh the train ahead of us had an accident near the tunnel and it is an emergency right now. All trains on that route are cancelled but ours halted mid way." 
         "How do you know me?" 
         "I don't know you, although I would like to. I just know your name. I was in the same hotel as you guys. I was on work. I have seen you plenty times in the hotel with yours friends. That reminds me, where are they?"
         "In another train.Why did you come after me?"
         "What else was I supposed to do? It was destiny that you were in the same train and it was me who woke you up. I had to take responsibility for what happened in your drowsiness!" He laughed
         She felt easy and relaxed and all the tension from the last few hours drained with that laughter.
        " Can you give me your cellphone? Mine is dead and I   have to call parents." She remembered how anxious her parents would be! 

         She couldn't sleep and Aarav was more than willing to give her company. They talked through the night about so many topics and it really amused her the way he took most of her comments. He actually enjoyed her company and same was true for her.

          Next morning they took a bus to the next station. Mumbai was just 4 hours away from there. The journey was the best she had so far. When they exchanged numbers, she knew this was going to go far.. She had new things to look forward to..

         Once in  a while one has to break away from the norms and do what scares us a little. To go on a journey that opens new doors to friendship and experiences. To face life and then live it a little more. When she started the journey she was full of excitement and when things turned bad she was full of regret. She had missed her friends as she sat on that bench in that stinky store room, she had questioned her decision to come on the trip and blamed her fate for landing her in such a situation, felt frustrated at her own lack of judgement. Life has strange ways of unlocking happiness. An unexpected tragedy, a little set back, a little loneliness as your comfort people move on, a little lump in the throat for what was undone may eventually be life's way of leading you to bigger and better things..


I hope you liked this story Dalia :)