It takes exact 9 hours 21 minutes to reach Kolkata from Bhubaneswar through train.
No doubt being a self-claimed responsible, "matured" teenage girl adventure always sets my soul on fire but travelling to the same distance in a monthly basis in that same ac compartment with 2-3 moody fellow passengers sometimes turns out boring.
It was on the mid of September
when our Puja holidays just begun. I in my willingness to drop back home steadily packed my bags & left for the railway station as sooner I got the official letter about the holiday schedule.
Due to heavy jam in the first class ac compartment I unhappily got a 2nd class non-ac reservation.
Though I didn't like the seat I got but still somehow I managed to sit right beside the window as I wanted to avoid the mess that gets create at the edge of the seats & also a strange smell that was coming from the public toilet attached few seats next to mine.
The wheels took its chores
The train started to move & I finally relieved a sigh.Soon later there was a confusion near the door.
There was a guy & people were screaming at him for some reason. I tried to ignore it but soon my curiosity founded my way to go & look after the matter.
"Hey!I know him! Leave him"
Do you know him - people asked me
Yes I do
I just interchanged my seat with him
Soon people started dispersing by saying a sorry to him which made me even more confused & impatient about what just happened
Who were they? Why were they screaming at him? What had he done? Why did they reacted like that after I showed interest to know the situation -
& several other questions were running down my mind while going back to my seat.
I sat thinking for my answers & soon fall asleep.
I woke up with a gentle voice "Thank You lady"
I opened my eyes & saw the face that I've been looking my answers for
that same young guy.
I wanted to ask him the what's I had in my mind but replied just a "You're welcome".
He turned back & was about to move when I questioned him "have you done anything for which the crowd got angry on you"
The laugh was something different
Not funny neither strange
It was simple, genuine & sober
Much sarcastic at the same time.
"You don't need to think so much
Relax & enjoy your journey"
I again interrupted "but wait! I want to know because there was a silent pause when I said that I do know... (I couldn't complete)
What was happening to me?
Where was I getting lost to?
Those beautiful eyes plunged in sorrow
That wide lip that was asking for some care & affection...
You.. (I came back saying what I had to)
He looked upon me saying
"Because I after exchanging seat with you I accidentally dropped my ticket somewhere & people think I am here without any reservation".
I reacted :
"Oh crap!Then where are you sitting now?"
"I don't know, I will be standing near the door enjoying the cool wind & scenarios outside" he again smiled.
I looked at him in disgust & said
"Are you out of your mind
Its a 9+ hour journey. You helped me when I needed a favour by exchanging seats now it's my time to pay you back
We will sit alternatively.
But .... (Maybe he was about to say something)
I am very clear & as I said to them that I know you you better come with me otherwise I'll say I don't know you (I giggled)
& somewhere he smiled too.
What was I doing?
Someone who in order to avoid public disturbance changes her seat from edge to the window wanted to share her seat with a stranger.
It was strange but
whatever it was
I was liking it.
Why was I liking it so much?
Why was I so much concerned about his condition?
To break the silence we started talking to each other
From Kolkata? - he said
"No!South Delhi.I have my aunt's place here near Baghajotin"
"You say!Let me guess you're a Kolkata guy!right?"
He again made that heart melting laugh
I am,but my home is a bit away from proper Kolkata.
I live in a small town.
So tell me something about your town I proposed.
In the small town of mine
Train journeys come with indulging food and green fields.
Chanachur mix, lebu lojens, badam, chana, aamloki
Jhalmuri with a slice of coconut and more aloo please.
In the small town of mine
There aren’t no fancy malls,
Swiggy, Uber, Zomato are pretty much unheard of.
Many a lane take you to mud roads and rice fields
Often you'll look up to see kites flying against the wind.
In this very small town of mine
I've grown up swimming(trying) in ponds and jumping trees
Entertainment would mean trips to phuchka stalls or bike rides in the evening breeze.
Now that I am going back there
Once in a while,
I am sure
There will a nostalgia brewing in corners of roadsides.
In the sound of shuttle cocks in the narrow lanes
Or the familiar aging smiles from rickshaw uncles
Asking me, kobe ashle?
In the winter afternoons at the balcony on spread out mats,
And well, even if you don't know what you are doing,
Someone else usually does.
Life here is simple,
And indeed about the little things,
You see, despite how far I travel
This small town will always be my humble beginning.
Are you listening"?
I was lost
I was impressed
I didn't wanted him to stop
His words digged in my heart a place I never thought someone ever would
I wanted to prevent only if I could.
It seems great I would love to visit it someday.
"You're welcome, you'll feel good with us there" he replied like a gentleman.
For the first time I felt a stranger so close.
As I was sitting window-by
The hit of the wind was continuingly tangling up my hair
I became concious after a while
Then he said "Leave it! You look beautiful"
I felt graceful in a second or two with no reason why.
For the first time I had a feeling that it wasn't just my hairs to get tangled to
My emotions were in danger too.
"Want to have a cup of tea?I am getting one for myself.Shall I get for you too?
No.I am fine, thanks.
"As you wish! “he left
Soon he left things became a lil awkward
I was becoming impatient for him to return back.
The cool wind & outside scenarios delighted me for the very first time.
Things seemed more beautiful than usual all of a sudden,
I felt asleep again.
When I got up it was a crowd once more.
But this time not with that voice anymore
I realised that we've reached the destination
I looked for him
But got no traces
Suddenly my eyes meet a note kept just beside my jacket & another paper cup filled with tea
It was nice to meet you.
I came back with a cup of tea for you as well but you were sleeping so I didn't wake you up.
I am going to say you something which I guess after knowing you won't desire to talk to me like the way you did -
I know it's just few hours we meet & had some conversation but
I genuinely think I have got some strong emotions for you.I couldn't blink my eyes since the time I saw you.
I wanted to talk to you & know you deeper.
I am sorry but I couldn't help staring at you each time you were looking at me while I was speaking.
God bless you
I read the last words & my eyes got wet with each word I went through.
I had a flashback of him running his fingers through timeline of Facebook
I haven't even asked his name what a moron I am" - I said in disgust to myself...
At least knowing the name would've let me search for him. I wish I could've also told him how I felt about him
But now it's never possible.
I sighed a deep breath!!
Taking some time out to have an emotional control,
Sipping to the tea that he kept for me with utmost love tasted sweat(just like our memories) -
I concluded that
This journey was different - much better than the ac first class ones,
Where one get such a fellow passenger who teaches so much about life.
But was it only about the travel
THE TRAVELER who was next.
I was taking out my bag packs from the lower berth so that I can steadily get down & go back home -
There was something like a tiny peace of paper & unbelievably here it was,
The long lost reservation ticket
Bhubaneswar to Kolkata