Saturday, June 27, 2009

The girl on the station -- A short story

A sudden rumbling sound woke him up. He raised himself to look outside the window. The train was now passing over the bridge. The river underneath was shallow and calm. He could see some washer men at the distance engaged in their daily chores. There were also some children playing, busy in their own world. The sound changed, the speed of the train increased. It was the morning time and there was a cool gentle breeze flowing outside. He found himself shivering. There was an urge to close the window but he didn't. He enjoyed the feeling of wind brushing against his face. His eyes were misty, his hair were flowing.

It was around 7 in the morning. He sat up. His station was about to come. He was finally going back to his home. It had been 4 months since he last went back. The semester turned out to be pretty hectic. He was totally consumed in the projects and assignments. No more mess food now, he thought. Suddenly he remembered about the last night. He remembered the waiting room, he remembered himself glancing here and there, he remembered her. She was sitting right in front of him, at the other side of the waiting room, resting against the wall, book in her hands, backpack against her legs, her hair unkempt, half asleep and half awake. At first he found her shabby. But there was something about her that captivated his attention. He looked at her again. No, she wasn't shabby. She was just laid back, casual, carefree, unaware of the happenings of the world. She had found a nice comfortable place in that chair.

The voice of the vendor disturbed his chain of thoughts. The vendor was selling the sandwiches. He thought against eating them. How was the pantry ? How was the cleanliness ? How was the cooking material? He hadn't even brushed his teeth. But he was too hungry to give any consideration to his thoughts. And more than that, he trusted his Indian stomach. It had digested many indigestibles in the past and it could surely digest these petty sandwiches. He ate the sandwiches and felt pretty contented. He felt at ease and next he found himself thinking about the happenings of the last night.

He was reading some classic written during the British Raj in India. He didn't like the book that much. But he had already finished half of it. So he was in a dilemma as to whether strain himself reading the other half or let the time that he had spent reading this half go into a drain. He had a lot of time to spare before the train would arrive and he had nothing to do. It was then that he spotted her. And after some time he was staring at her. When you keep looking at something, your perceptions just change from time to time. She had turned from shabby to laid-back to pretty. He was trying to figure out what she liked about her. And the next when he saw her, she was awake. He was engaged in his thoughts and he had not noticed that. She gave him a strange look and in the haste, he just gazed in the book. Had she seen him staring at her ? Or was that the look she gave to every stranger ? How she could have seen him ? But girls know you are staring at them before you know that they know. They really have this sixth sense or something.

The train had halted on a station. It was the station just before his station. He would probably reach his station in next 5-10 mins. It was not a regular stoppage. The train would have stopped for a crossing. How he hated these crossings. He always felt that the train in which he was travelling is made to stop. What would it take the government to build double tracks through out. If that could be done, then no train would ever get late. People would stop calling IST as Indian Station Time. And one would not have to wait in those crowded waiting rooms. But those waiting rooms can become an interesting place sometimes. Atleast on the last night, he didn't complain of those waiting rooms.

He looked above at the fan. He looked at the entrance. He looked at the bunch of kids playing around. And every time he did so, he tried to catch a glimpse of her. He didn't want to look straight at her again. He didn't want that glance again. But he could not resist. She was now combing her hair. Was she getting ready to move ? His train was also about to come. Could she be going in the same train ? Wouldn't it be great if that could happen ? And then she again looked back at him. But this time, his eyes didn't waver. He looked back at her straight into her eyes. He again got a look. And he liked it this time. It was a gentler look. Apparently she had not taken any offence this time. And then she looked away. Did she smile ? He thought she smiled and then he smiled at that prospect. He again started reading the book. But he didn't remember what he had last read. He turned some pages back. He then looked ahead and found her leaving the waiting room. He decided to follow her but he had his backpack all opened up. He tied it up quickly and got out. He looked here and there but couldn't find her. Announcement of his train was made. He decided to go to the designated platform.

The train arrived. And suddenly the platform was crowded. There were people hurtling towards the general coach. There were these porters looking out for some potential customers. There were these vendors selling their items, shouting in their highest pitch. There were people who were struggling to find their right coach, inquiring the people sitting on the window. There are never any signs distinguishing one sleeper coach from other. And then there were people coming in and out of the train. The concentration of the people was more on the doors of the coaches. People could really do with a little more patience. All of them wanted to be the first one to enter as if otherwise they would lose their seat. He waited for a while and just when he was about to enter he thought that he saw her. He looked sideways and there she was. But there was this overwhelming screaming at the back that he had no other option but to move on.

The passing train stirred him up. There was this sudden gush of air hitting him on his face. He could see the windows and the doors. He envied the people sitting inside the other train. After few minutes his train started to move. He started putting all his belongings in his bag. He wished that he could see her again. The rush at the end didn't allow him that last look. He wished to see her one last time so that he could preserve her image in his mind. So that he could narrate her to his friends. So that he could savour those moments as and when he like. The train slowed down as his station came. He stepped down and started to move towards the gate of the station. The train had already started to move. He stopped for a while to look back. But then he realized that he didn't want that last look. He preferred the haze, for sometimes the reality is not as beautiful as one has anticipated. He was contented with his image of that shabby girl. And so, he moved on.


A Neophyte said...

This is my first attempt at writing a short story. It is inspired by a similar experience that I had on the Kanpur station.

Kush said...

A bit rough. Some grammar mistakes as usual :P but a nice one. I would like to know if this was how the real encounter was. :)

†J said...

'Labels: short story'

Such SHORT stories are least expected from you.

I hope u aren't competing with me for writing lengthy posts !! Are you ?

A Neophyte said...

@Kush - The real encounter was much different. We two actually ended up in the same compartment :) . Also had some talk before she left at her station.

@Telly - No, i wud not like to traumatize my readers the way you do by writing those big lengthy posts. Its been labelled short story because for its length is small when u compare it with other stories..

†J said...

Ahh, well.

Is it the romantic story you wanted to write since long, huh ?

It was good, especially with the way you efficiently jumbled the two train journeys.

I particularly liked:
*When you keep looking at something, your perceptions just
change from time to time
*But girls know you are staring at them before you know that they know. They really have this sixth sense or something.
*He preferred the haze, for sometimes the reality is not as beautiful as one has anticipated.

I think i'll end up being a fan of you. :-D

Vestronge said...

Grammar :P !!

Though I really loved your style of writing this short story...present to near-past thingy !

A Neophyte said...

I think I really need to take some grammar lessons :P

makiitk said...

great effort ...
Well .. meri grammar bekar hai .. so I didn't mind your grammar :D
but I liked the flashback technique you have used... going back and forth.. without creating confusion.
and yeah.. though TJ has already mentioned, the best line was "But girls know you are staring at them before you know that they know. They really have this sixth sense or something."

Keep up the good work...

Saucy said...

Your grammar is better than Shakespeare's. It's literature that is adorable.