Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jab They Met

~~~ Every Love story has an interesting beginning ~~~

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Hi, am Vignesh aka Vicky. Am in a bus excited to be going to my friend's place. And as with each of last seven days, like a song playing in infinite loop, I look back to the fateful day.
That evening's happenings are fresh as though it was only yesterday. The more I play it in my mind again and again, the more I am convinced of an enigmatic feel to it. There I was with my luggage and Maaza in hand, trying to find a place to sit on platform no. 3. Thankfully, a passenger left the rectangular seating arrangement around a pillar I was nearing. I placed my travel bag on the dirty platform and sat closer to the male crowd. To my left was a girl in blue churidhar, talking on the cell oblivious to my presence. She turned a little when I placed the Maaza bottle beside her. Acting as if I wasn't interested in her, I dialed my friend's number, only to find it busy.
As always, Kanyakumari express had not left until five minutes past its departure time 9:45pm. It would be another 10-15min for Kurla express to arrive. So I started looking around. I saw a boy and a girl talking happily, their hands brushing each other. I wished. I wished I too had someone to care for, to shower my love and to be loved. I dialed again. Busy again. The blue-churidhar girl was still talking. I noticed a movement and felt indecisiveness to do it myself or inform her. I settled for the latter. I was building up courage to call her when her hand moved to her right sleeve. I thought she had found out herself. But her fingers stopped before reaching the target. I stood up, moved closer to her and called out - 'Excuse me miss, there's a big insect near your right slee.. shoulder...'

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I pride in maintaining my daily-diary notes. For the past week, I keep visiting to the entry dated Friday, March 12 - 2010. It was an eventful night journey. So much so that perhaps it will be the longest account in my diary. And without actually intending, it took a story form.

Internship finally got over and I eagerly was looking to meet Sameer the next day. He had promised to take me to a nice location as well! Though my train was supposed to leave at 10:10pm, I reach the #3 platform by 9pm, not risking on the Bangalore traffic. I had loads of music on mobile and a book to read. But I couldn't have known that talking to Sameer would last more than an hour. Another train was already standing and stinking toilet smell irked my nostrils. I spray copiously from the scent bottle I always carry to be able to sit and talk in peace.


Though immersed in the conversation, I look around every now and then. Writing habit generates a desire - to observe anything interesting. I see a guy with IBM bag accompanied with a gal in black dress chattering away past me. I am sure they were more interested in accidentally hitting against the each-others fingers. Sameer & I laugh our heart out. So much so that I had to adjust my sleeves. And then suddenly, the guy sitting nearby speaks to me.


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She turned, looked at me as if I had committed a sin speaking to her. I repeated the words and it took a while for her to register what I meant. I half-expected her to freak out. But she calmly brushed off the bug and resumed talking on the phone!

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I am shocked not that the guy spoke to me, but that he seemed familiar and I couldn't place him either. He repeats that there is a bug on my right shoulder, I register the meaning, my hands take the appropriate action and I confusedly relate it to Sameer. I had even forgotten to say a courtesy thanks. A while later my intern friends arrive and I persuade Sameer to end the call.

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I was wondering if I should have even bothered with it. The bug was probably harmless as well. Whoever said we should try to help others. I couldn't shake off the look she gave me. Presently the 'insect' girl went off with her friends. As well she should for my sake, I thought. I took another sip of Maaza and put-on the music gear. Nothing soothes like melodious songs.
I felt an offensive smell. And undoubtedly it was coming from the restroom opposite the platform. Perhaps that is why she went off? And I could detect a faint trace of perfume where she had been sitting.
It was 10pm by then and train no. 1013 arrived. Finishing the last drops of Maaza, I took my baggage, found a dust-bin to dispose the bottle and leisurely walked to coach marked S9. I knew pretty well that it would be atleast 30-45min before the train departed, so why bother rushing through the crowd of passengers trying to walk past the aggregated ones near the door? It took around five minutes for the crowd to clear. Whom do I see when I reach my seat? Yup, you guessed it. The insect girl! I double checked my seat no. It did not change from 29 and she was sitting on the opposite side. Someone tapped on my shoulder and informed that the middle seat was his. I thought perhaps I had come to the wrong coach when the insect girl spoke!

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We had coffee and talked about how our internship was over so soon. I tell them the bug-incident. Reeta said I should have apologized and Renu said the guy had no business watching her shoulder in first place. Sameer had said whatever the case, the guy was trying to help and I should have acknowledged that. I half thought of going back to that place when I heard the train arriving. As we walked past that place, I find him missing and give the matter a rest. Reeta and Renu had their seats in S11 and mine in S9. They were being accompanied by their boy-friends, so I bade them good-night and reached my seat #28. I take my headset to bide time, when I see that guy walking past the window facing the platform. I rise and then sit back. I couldn't leave the luggage and go. I needn't have. He comes to my compartment! He seemed to verify his seat no., looked at the three aluminum plates with numbers 28,29,30 printed on them and sat down. He had obviously seen me. I look away, debating if I should apologize. Then I hear someone telling the guy that he was on the wrong seat. He looked at the ticket again and I seize the opportunity to speak to him. I said, "The numbers printed are wrong. These are the right ones" and pointed to the numbers written with a marker near the windows.

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It didn't take long for me to realize that she was right. Sometime back, a middle berth was added to the side berths too making it 9 berths in a compartment. Public pressure made the railways remove the berth, but the numbers stayed put. And my bad luck, no. 29 means a middle berth in either case.
The insect girl had pointed that out. Saying 'thanks', I continued sitting opposite her as the no. 26 guy had left to meet someone. She was sitting near the window which meant she had lower berth and mine the middle one above her. On the side berths were two more girls, their mouths exercising rapidly.
I took out my cell to resume listening songs and I remembered that I hadn't spoken to my friend yet. He picked it this time and before I could shout at him, he apologized saying he had been busy. He seemed pretty happy and enthusiastic. I asked him just to be sure if he was indeed coming to my hometown tomorrow. He assured me and said to expect a surprise, but he would be coming only by evening. I said fine and bade him good-night, assuming the happiness was related to the surprise in store.
The ticket inspector came by. Looking up his record as well as the tickets, he called out the girl's names loudly as if to confirm. So without asking, I knew that the insect-girl's name was Nisha.

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I expected him to strike some conversation so that I can apologize for the earlier incident. But no, he purposely looks away and gets busy with his mobile phone. To my surprise, the TTR came even before the train starts. He is well past 50, but such a flirt! He reads my name aloud while checking but not the guy's one! Wonder what pleasure did he get from such a ritual.
Now my curiosity rose to know his name, but he is head bent-down seemingly enjoying music to the core. A black kid came by sweeping the floor. I didn't have change and perhaps neither the other two girls.

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When a sweeper boy came, none of the girls offered money and I found it strange. The boy looked pitiful and I gave him a two rupee coin. I looked up the time to find it was 10:30pm and the train firmly at Bangalore yet. Another girl now came, looked at the numbers on aluminum plates and placed her bag on top berth. I presumed she too was mistaken (for seat no. 30) and informed her the same. Nisha confirmed it too and she changed to the top berth on the opposite side.
I felt Nisha wanted to apologize about the earlier incident and funnily I felt I should deny her the chance. As if that would have offended her. It looks idiotic now, but my ego wouldn't make sense at that time. I continued to droop, my right hand on cheek and sat inclined to the side berth. The train finally moved and after about five minutes I turned towards Nisha.

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I feel happy that the guy helped the poor kid. After what seemed an eternity, the train started its journey. I wait for the other girl on my seat to climb to her upper berth. Shortly, she stands, bends down to remove her slippers and pushes them below the seat. At the same time, the guy on the opposite seat lifts his head and turns towards me. He wanted to sleep. And so, finally around 11pm after the middle berth was lifted and secured in its place above my berth, I stretch my legs to sleep. I make a mental note to offer my apologies the next day, if at all he too comes to Coimbatore.

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Normally I find it difficult to sleep while traveling. But not that day, I was tired and fell asleep almost immediately. But fate was conspiring against me. I had a dream. And for no reason it was the insect girl Nisha in it! I was on the beautiful landscape of Ooty, chasing her with enthusiasm! And then suddenly we found ourselves at some cliff edge. To top it all, she slipped and I rushed to the edge for help.

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I was sleeping pretty soundly, when I wake to a shrill baby cry. The train had halted for crossing and the baby must have cried when a speeding express passed on the opposite line. I take my mobile phone to check the time when to my horror a hand appears. It proceeds to tug my bed-sheet. I shake the sheet vigorously and immediately the hand disappears. I am shocked that the guy in the middle berth could try such an outrageous act.

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Gosh, how can I control dreams and my subconscious mind acting on its own? I had dropped flat on my stomach in dream and reached out for Nisha clinging onto a rock just as shown in numerous Indian films. And in reality, my hand had gone to the lower berth and touched Nisha! My conscious mind had somehow woken up and I had retreated the hand. Nisha did not scream out as I expected and so I thought she must have been asleep well. But that was little consolation. It was 3:12AM, and I couldn't sleep for the rest of journey.

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As if on cue, the bug-incident comes back to mind. Renu was right, that guy shouldn't have been watching my back in first place. Bloody-bugger I curse him. And then another thought hits me. Why did he turn exactly when the girl next to me was bending to place her slippers? Must be to take a peep. I grit and curse him again. And that money he gave to the kid must be fake kindness to impress those two girls on the side berth. I become so distraught that I didn't sleep again that morning.

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March 13: Coimbatore Jn.

Sameer heard the announcement of Kurla Express arriving on platform No.1. He swore that the train had to arrive on time at 6AM. As he was climbing up the subway stairs, Nisha greeted him with bleary eyes. Have you been crying, he asked with concern. Lets reach home first, she replied in a grave voice. Seeing she was serious, Sameer picked the luggage and hurried with her to his home.
Vicky hadn't budged until Nisha had left the coach. He didn't want to risk his chances and any explanation wouldn't have helped. And so, when he neared the subway, he stopped seeing that Nisha was waiting. When she left with a guy, he felt relieved. He bought a coffee, finished it leisurely and went downstairs to get the ticket to Palghat. He rued not getting the ticket straight to Palghat on Kanyakumari express.

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I keep silence while Sameer drove to his home. I manage to greet Uncle and Aunty with a smile and went with Sameer to his room. And what do I find? The picture slide-show on his laptop shows Sameer and that guy from train smiling with Sameer's college in the backdrop. I almost scream. And then realize it was indeed Vicky I met. Sameer had praised in heaps and bound about him in the past. I must have been gaping too long. Sameer was saying something which I couldn't register. I stand there confused in all that had happened and what Sameer had said about him. Aunty brought coffee and I gulped it fast. And then I say it all to Sameer.

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I was waiting for the passenger train to leave, listening to music when my friend Sameer called. I was surprised that he was up so early in the morning. The train had moved by then. And giving no warning he cursed me.

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March 19: Coimbatore

Vicky entered Sameer's room. Sameer was about to fling at Vicky but Nisha told him that she had invited Vicky. And went on to describe how Vicky had written an email explain what had actually happened, that she had read and deleted it, called Vicky, apologized and asked to come.
Before Sameer could process the meaning of it all, Vicky embraced him and asked him to forget the past. Nisha, standing behind Sameer, gave Vicky a playful wink.

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Thanks to Srini for his help.

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I am participating in the WeBlog's Sleepy Sunday contest! You may read other participating posts HERE


23 comments:

AV said...

Good effort :)
All the best!

Sundeep said...

thanks AV :)

Uncle Srini said...

Hey,

Read it again and I thought the earlier comment did not befit the story. So here's a more elaborate one:

(i) Loved the fact that you could make such an interesting tale out of a simple plot. Kudos to you!

(ii) Till the end, there are subtle cues all over, but difficult to rightly guess the 'confluence'. So congrats on that too!

(iii) Loved the characterisations - they were typical of guys and girls in some sense, but also novel somewhat.

The ending was obviously a 'happy' one but the way you had led up to it was nice.

One suggestion now (if you don't mind):

You may want to take care of your punctuations (in some places) because they can make crucial sentences ambiguous.

Lovely read! :)

Sundeep said...

Srini, you have made my evening :) First when I read your story and now your comment...
I was about to sleep, and this mighty compliment has made me very happy :) :)

And thanks for the suggestion too, will have to work on it...

TurbulentMind said...

hey..nice! simple, yet some coincidences and mishaps leading to a cute little story..

Sundeep said...

Thanks :)

Purba said...

So miss finally understood?
I felt the epilogue was unnecessary. Should have left it to the reader's imagination.

Loved your his and her version :))

Sādhogopāl Rām said...

Loved it, man.. it was smooth, fresh and quite like what happens in real.

very good!

Sundeep said...

Purba, thanks :) well many (incl. me) like happy endings :)

Sadhogopal, thanks a ton.. I wrote it based on a real life observation,added with a tinge of imagination :)

shail said...

Interesting story :)

Sundeep said...

thanks shail :)

Karthik said...

Insect girl! Lol.. :D
And what was the other one? "their mouths exercising rapidly." Awesome! ;)

A wonderful attempt, dude. A simple tale presented in a very innovative way.
That's why I always say, "how" you say is more important than "what" it is all about.
Beautifully weaved. ;)

Sundeep said...

thanks a lot Karthik,

yeah, I am trying with each post to 'show' than describe bluntly...

thanks again :)

Shikha Khandelwal said...

Sweet Nothings :)

Synchronized chords of the heart in tandem.... its all simultaneous..liked it !!

Sundeep said...

Thanks Shikha...
glad you liked it :)

adarshs said...

nicely done mate...i feel you can redo the end a bit...it seems a bit abrupt...bt otherwise the story is really good...best of luck :)

Sundeep said...

Thanks Adarsh,

I agree, I could have done a better justification of the concluding part...

thanks again :)

Rinaya said...

Loved the metaphors.. :)
cute story !
all d best for the contest!

Sundeep said...

Thanks Rinaya..
all the best to you too :)

nre said...

Nicely done. Very inspiring for me since I had tried to write a story on my blog once...but soon lost the flow...

Do check if you wish, and comment... Any suggestion wud be welcome. Good luck for Sleepy Sunday :)

Sundeep said...

thanks nre :)

You could have left your blog link.. couldn't access your profile too..

Hiyaa said...

I like the play of thoughts from one person to another. The thinking is perceptive and I think you did justice to both the thought processes.
All the best for the contest!
Hiyaa
http://www.thedefinitivemeltingpot.com

Sundeep said...

thanks a lot Hiyaa.. :)
am so glad u found that I did good justification to the two characters..

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