Friday, July 25, 2008

The Howrah Mail

This was the story I wrote when I was joining VIT. I was in the train I felt like writing this. Usually writing, reading and talking is my best pastimes in the train but if there’s not a good company then I am back to something creative. This was the first story I wrote on my own after school when no one was there to give me a topic and say, “You have to write a story beginning with…..or no one was there to restrict my flow of thoughts and expressions by giving me a word limit.” It is not having much of a good plot or something. It was my first attempt and I remember exactly when I wrote it. I wrote this on 9th July 2005.

Everything seemed clear from one side of the glass window of the AC 2coach but the people on the other side could not see the feelings being reciprocated on the other side. A girl wearing a black denim jeans and a white shirt casual shirt with brown stripes ran across the compartment, opening the push able door with force and stood there at the doorway waving to her mother. “Bye amma. Take care,” she said.
“Bye Anu,” her mother replied with tears welled up in her eyes. Not able to control herself the girl went back and sat near the window wiping a tear or two from the corner of her eyes.

“Ah! The lower berth again. I can look after my luggage well and sleep peacefully,” Anu muttered to herself. The whistle blew and the train started. Soon there was the sound of heavy footsteps that ended near Anu’s compartment. An elderly couple came in pushing the curtain on one side. They had 2 big suitcases and a leather bag. They looked quite well off. The lady had worn a diamond nose stud that was shining even in that dim light of the neon bulb in the small compartment. She had a red round bindi on her forehead and she had worn a south cotton maroon saree. Anu looked at them and tried to help them out in arranging their luggage. “Perfect Madrasi” Anu said to herself with a murk. She dare not react so much as she herself was one like them.

“Where are you going?” the lady asked Anu.
“To Chennai,” there came a flat answer from Anu. She didn’t want to speak a lot. The lady asked again, “Which berth have you got?”Anu had expected this question.
“Em…. Errr…. Lower berth,” Anu said.
“Can you please exchange the lower berth with my berth?” the lady asked politely.
Before Anu could reply the lady spoke again.
“Old bones you know! I cannot climb up. There must be some rules to provide only lower berth to the senior citizens,” she said.
“Yes, they do provide if you mention you are a senior citizen,” Anu said.
“We were a bit late in booking the ticket,” the lady said giving a mischievous yet innocent look on her face. Anu had no choice but accept it.
“Okay. I shall change,” she said.

Now it was the old man who started. “Who is in this seat?” he asked pointing at the lower berth in front of Anu.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“We are Mr. and Mrs. Iyer,” saying this he smiled at Anu.
“Your good name please.”
“Anusha. Anusha Krishnamurthy.”
“Oh! You also an Iyer Brahmin,” the lady said happily.
“Hmmm. Yes,” Anu said with a forceful smile.
The next moment their conversation began. Anu didn’t want to speak so much. She wanted to sleep for sometime but she couldn’t move for the next thirty minutes. The lady kept talking to her in Tamil asking the basic questions of her hometown, family etc.

After all this, Anu had a good sleep. She kept wondering who could be the fourth person. She just wished it could be some girl of her age whom she could talk to and spend the rest 25-30 hours in the train instead of answering the questions of the elderly couple. Time passed and she was quite refreshed by the nap. She was reading her novel when the train halted. She was jolted and pushed to one side of the berth. The iron rod hurt her in her knuckles. “Ouch!” she grumbled in pain. The first impulse was to look at her watch. “What station could it be?” she wondered. She looked at the timetable she had. “Oh! Kharagpur. Right on time,” she mumbled.

No sooner did she say this than a handsome guy somewhere in his late twenties entered. He took his seat in the lower berth beside Mr. Iyer. Anu bent herself a little and peeped from her book. He had a well shaved face, straight, smooth and shining black hair. His height would be somewhere around 5’9”and he was neither too slim nor too healthy. He wore a grayish blue causal pant and a pale yellow t- shirt. He had a very casual yet impressive look. Still she wanted a better view of him but it would not be good for her get down so she was engrossed in her book again.

The old couple kept him engrossed too as he had to exchange seats again. He too had to pass through the same stages of question answer session as Anu had too. Anu wasn’t reading her book but listening to their conversation. She found out that his name was Karthik Subramanian and he was also going to Chennai. Anu went back to where she had stopped reading. She didn’t seem so interested now. It was 9pm already. The elderly couple already started having dinner. Anu sat up and looked down. Karthik was busy listening to music from his i- pod. The couple finished their dinner and it was time for them to sleep. Karthik had to come up and sit. Their dinner was yet to be served. Anu kept looking at him then suddenly she realized that she was actually staring at him. She just blinked her eyes and turned to look here and there. She looked at him again and this time he too was actually smiling at her. It was a refreshing one. Just like coffee. He didn’t speak and neither did Anu have the courage to speak first. She felt it would be so awkward to speak to a guy all of a sudden. After dinner, the lights were switched off and Anu went to sleep. He was lying down and listening to music again. Half his face was covered with the blanket. Suddenly Anu realized that she hadn’t locked her suitcase. She didn’t feel like putting on the light as the other 3 might wake up. She tried to hold the loop with her hand but she couldn’t find it. She tried to give some light from her mobile but no use. She kept struggling for another 2 minutes. “Oh! Where are you stupid loop?” she said irritatingly yet softly.

Suddenly a polite voice said, “May I help you ma’am.”
Anu was taken aback as she got a bit panicked.
Karthik was holding his mobile with its torch light on and gave it to Anu.
“Here. Take this,” he said.
Anu got hold of the loop and fastened her suitcase handle with a chain.
“Thank you,” she said and gave this cell phone back.
She got back to her seat. Karthik was smiling at her again. Anu felt this was an opportunity to speak but then she hesitated. Before she could think more he asked her, “Where are you going ma’am?” It was easier for Anusha now.
“I am going to Chennai.”
“Me too,” Karthik added and brought his hand forward for a warm welcome.
“Oh! Yes, Hi! This is Anusha.”
“Karthik, am I right?” Before Karthik could wonder and say anything she replied back saying, “I just heard you telling it to Mr. and Mrs. Iyer.”
She felt elated as the conversation went on.
“So you are a college student?” he asked her.
“Yes. I am 3rd year student of Biotechnology from SRM University, Chennai,” Anu said confidently.
“What about you?”
“I am working in Kharagpur in an IT company,” he said.
“You are going to Chennai for…?”
“I have got an important meeting tomorrow.”
“Oh! Okay.”
They kept talking for a while but it was in whispers now as it was too late.
“I need to sleep now. Hope you don’t mind,” Anu said with a yawn.
“Sure. Why not? Sure ma’am. Good night. We can talk in the morning.”
“Err… would you please not call me ma’am,” Anu said hesitatingly.
“That’ll be fine,” he said with a smile. It was that smile that Anu liked a lot.

Anu couldn’t sleep. She felt restless. She felt as if 2 eyes were continuously looking at her. She tried to open her eyes slowly and looked towards the berth where Karthik was sleeping. He was fast asleep with his back facing towards her.
“What’s happening to me? Why am I getting such feelings and why do I feel attracted towards that guy?” she questioned herself.

There was no answer so she thought it was better she put herself to sleep again and ward of any unwanted thoughts but the same smiling face lingered in her mind. The next day morning she woke up late. It was already 11am. The elderly couple were sitting and talking to each other. Anu looked down and then towards Karthik’s seat. He wasn’t there. She didn’t feel like getting up but it was time for her to brush and get fresh at least. She got down and got fresh. She badly needed a coffee to refresh herself. She tried asking some of the vendors for coffee but it was too late for them to serve coffee still. “It is lunch time Anusha. They will not get coffee now,” Mrs. Iyer said. “Oh! No,” Anu said in dismay. “I am late.”
“Here have this one,” Karthik said handing over a cup of coffee to Anu. He had been hearing their short talk for a while
His reactions were so sudden that Anu didn’t know how to react. She didn’t feel like taking it but also wanted coffee badly.
“What about you? You got it for yourself, right?”
“Well, I can get one for myself again. The train will halt for 10 minutes in this station.”
“Okay. Thank You,” Anu said taking a sip of the coffee.
The next moment he was back with another cup of coffee and asked Anu, “So, how was the coffee?”
“Seriously it was too good. I badly wanted one.”
She opened her purse and handed over a 10 rupee note to Karthik.
“Here, keep this. I don’t have change.”
“Eh! I don’t want. After all it is just a coffee.”
“No. I don’t like to keep anything pending especially when it comes to money.”
After a lot of pestering he agreed.
“Okay! I will take it but I don’t have change either so you have to wait till tomorrow so that I can give you another coffee,” he said this and laughed.
Mr. and Mrs. Iyer also joined with in.
Anu smiled. He seemed very helpful and looked as if he was a person of values. Still, Anu thought it was too early to decide.
“Which book are you reading?” he asked.
“Oh! It is The God of Small Things.”
“Arundhati Roy?”
“Yes. It has won the booker prize.”
“Yes. I read about it. How’s it going?”
“Very boring in the beginning but now I have got some interest.”
“What about you? What kind of books do you prefer?” Anu asked him keeping her book aside.
“Well, it depends on the time I have and I am not too much into reading. I do that at times. My schedule has become so hectic that I stick to magazines only.”


1 comment:

Ydntn said...

Its awesome so far ... am going on to the next part of the story.... i'll leave the rest of the comments in that section ...