It is said that the locals are the essence of Mumbai and this never asleep city runs on the announcements at train stations. Numerous train stations each one with its one distinguishing characteristics and life symptoms. These come to life every morning during the rush hours, self explanatory hours that are the pulse of Mumbai. A major faction of Mumbaities, a huge faction, a faction which is greater than the population of not only small towns but also big ones boards during these rush hours. I used to travel from Thane to Powai. My fifteen minutes ride on world’s most punctual railway system used to start 7:15 sharp in the morning. So it happened one day.
I was at platform numbered 7, waiting for my ride. Kanjurmarg not being a major station could only be approached through slow locals. And slow locals are something that gets occupied first. People hushing from all direction into major coaches and if you find door for one in front, then go for it as it could be your last chance to reach your destination in time. The two minute wait for the train is generally spent looking at all sorts of people and trying to guess what could be their destination and errand they are going for. It was during this time, I saw her. She was in a red and black strips sweater and partially wet hair. I think I drooled as long as my eyes were fixed on her. But the scene was soon interrupted by the announcement and with it I slowly crawled behind her, hoping to board in the same couch. From where she was standing I could had easily guessed that she was new to locals as she was completely unaware of all ladies coach and the place it would be arriving. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss and hope is powerful thing to hang on to. As the train arrived, I gently pushed her from the back to make sure she gets the train. And in the rush to fill the coach with hundreds of people in seconds you have to be effective. She got hold of the bar in between the door and so did and before time could run out, we were inside the running train with no seat available to sit. I went to my usual spot next to door and stood there, waiting my destination. She came and stood next to me, holding a file close to her chest. You seldom make friends on local train and it is even foolish hope to make friends in the ride.
Now every station has a pre decided platform where every local stops and so you get used to the side where you have to get down. I moved to the right door of the coach and even before the train could stop, I got down and started walking towards the exit. Kanjurmarg station is half a mile away from the main road from where you get the autos for your ultimate destination. As I walked towards the stand, I saw her passing me by in a hurry. After a couple of steps she stopped and turned around. As I was about to reach up to her, she spoke in a soft gentle voice with a mannerism rarely seen in today’s girl.
‘Can you tell me which bus would take me to Zeeps?’
I explained the bus details to her and also recommended her to get on the bus which I will take to Powai. So we boarded the bus and I got down at Powai. That was that for the day and now I was having a good memory that I could expect to nurture for few more days.
That was just the beginning. Next day I saw her again at same station standing at same place ready to board same coach in same train. Seeing it as an opportunity, I carefully chose a place behind her. We got down at the same station, and again boarded the same bus. Behind her all this time, I was following her mesmerized. This went on for couple of days. Those days were the best and that frustrating ride just got transformed into something worth looking forward to. The only thing that I disliked was to get down at Powai and see her go.
One day I decided to take a step further. While on train, I asked her, ‘How are you doing?’
So began our conversation. For the first time I got to know her name. I learnt that she recently joined a company near Zeeps and gave me the address too her work place as well on her card. Now I had a reason to look forward to everyday. Every day I used to be at the same place, at the station. Now and then we would take a sip of tea before train could arrive. Sometimes, we used to laugh at the events that happened at my place and sometimes on those that happened at her place. Sometimes we used to stand and look at different people and guess who would be boarding train to which station. As the hesitation wore out, I became more and more comfortable with her.
One day, she wasn’t there. I was surprised to see that because she was very punctual about it. And I would have known it earlier. I was irritated and even my boss could see that. He gave me a warning e-mail stating me to mind my behavior at the workplace. This action of her needed an explanation and I decided to see what happened to her. I called her office, to know if she was there or not. She had reported back saying she won’t be able to make it as she was sick. The office wasn’t allowed to give me her personal details and I too refrained myself from insisting on it. It was difficult for me to make peace with it. But what else I could have done?
Mornings were dull and I lost the will to go to the office anymore. So it happened that I decided to go to office one more last time and place a leave as well. I desperately needed some time off as perturbed; I would be constantly looking out for her. I woke up late, taking my time and instead of 7.15 I went to board 8 o’clock train. I was at my usual spot on the platform and I saw her coming. She had plaster on one hand and was trying to handle rest of the stuff in her other hand. As she stepped down from the stairs, she stumbled and dropped her file and papers. I rushed to help her out. While, I was collecting papers for her, I asked ‘What happened?’
She told me everything. Everyday there used to be a group of hooligans at the street crossing where she lived. One day, while she was going back home, she was pushed deliberately and she hit her hand on a hard surface. That was when she broke it and see opted to stay home for some days just to avoid those hooligans.
Furious by such incident, I offered her to drop to her place every day after work, which she gladly accepted. I scheduled my job timings to meet hers and so I started to escort her back to her home every day. A couple of minute’s journey changed into couple of hours of companionship. I had started to like her more than just like her. I felt it was because of the selfless nature of hers and the way she treated me. I was her special friend that I guess she too wished to see every day.
Over a period of six months commencing after the incident, I impatiently waited for her every second while I was at the station. I adored her when I was with her. I thought of her, when I wasn’t with her. It wasn’t just a friendship for me anymore. She was someone for whom I was ready to spend any measure of time. I decided to ask her out at someplace other than or daily rendezvous. It was hard for her to deny such an offer. And though we shared a common off on weekdays that I earlier used to exploit for rest and all the procrastination in this invigorating world, she readily agreed.
We went out for coffee, and sometimes for brunch, then for movie. The more I spent time with her, the more I felt like spending time with her. You can say that I was already fallen for her. But I had no guts to explain to her or the hope of reciprocation from her side. I kept my feelings buried inside that were only getting ready to burst out on smallest instigation.
It was the hectic month of March. With closing year, there were people seeking means to complete their pending work and the documentation. There were some waiting for the raise and promotions. I was waiting to see if my worst fear turns out to be true.
My boss called me in. In a lengthy discourse, he appreciated me on my commitment towards the job and at the end he announced that I’m being promoted. This was bad. Not because of the promotion, but the fact that you will be transferred unless and until, your boss dies. Since the latter is not going to happen, my fear was in front of me. I was given two months time to wrap up everything that I was doing here and move my work station from Powai to Pune. Though Pune is close to my place, yet I won’t be able to live my daily fantasy with her.
It was time and I had to do something to pour the feelings for her out. I made all the arrangements and in the morning, I went and stood exactly at the same place where I first met her. Looking disappointed, I was staring floor, moving one foot here and there, as if searching for foothold. She came to me and said,
‘The sun isn’t bright today… what made you so sad?’
‘I got promoted!’
‘Wow! And this is your way of expressing excitement?’
‘No. Could you do me a favor?’
‘Please be here at 5.30 sharp. I won’t be going to Powai.’
‘Oh. Okay. Is everything fine?’ She asked with frowned eyes.
‘Just be here!’
I left her standing there and went back from where I came from. She was stunned and I think was bit worried as well. But this is something that I cannot explain to her in the morning rush. I needed time and only if.
She was there, right on time. Dressed in a suit I asked her to accompany me. She was curious to know what is happening and I promised her to tell her. We went to the car waiting for her outside and from there we went to the fanciest restaurant I could find in Thane. I had booked a candle light dinner table for two. She had a smile on her face and an anxiety for answers. As we made ourselves comfortable, I took her hand in mine and started explaining to her what is happening.
‘It was a regular day when I first met you. I still remember the first conversation that we had. From that day onwards, all the selfishness, all the shrewdness and the cleverness treasured for this world lost its value. I never expected anyone to become so close to me and now I can say that you are the best thing that happened to me.’
As I took out a long stranded rose I continued, ‘There was no stopping and you never seemed to be rested. You continue to conquer my heart and here am I, defeated. I love you and if you will give me a chance, I will try my best to make you feel like a princess for every second of your life. My life hasn’t been kind to me but none the less wasn’t revengeful as well, as I met you. Would you honor me with some of your precious time?’
She took the rose and with smile she said, ‘I’ll think about it.’
The rest is history and now that beautiful young woman is my significant other. After this long story all I would say, never lose hope. If you are searching for someone special, you will find one. And who knows maybe at most unexpected places. Well, you heard my story!