Of all the times I have imagined waking up, I never quite pictured it as being jolted off a pleasant state of unconsciousness as a soggy towel asphyxiated me and a pair of hands hauled me away, while “Jingle Bells Jingle Bells” blasted in the background. When I finally woke up, I pointed out to my mother that it was an inhuman way to wake somebody up, to which she fake-yawned and said I better head off to the bathroom and take a goddamn bath right now. I did just that.
We had to leave for Deshbandhu college, where we would be clarifying a few queries regarding admission. So I bathed hastily, and wrapped myself in whatever clothes my mother had laid out for me. It was a check-shirt, which I loathe, and a pair of dark blue jeans, which is the only pair that fits me these days, and my old shoes, which I really like even though those are shabby and untidy.
I slung my bag and left the apartment with my mother. We walked an extra mile so that we could hail a cheap cab. We reached Vaishali Metro Station in a few minutes. If you ignore amputated beggars sitting in the shade and little stunted kids wandering around with a bunch of flowers that nobody buys, Vaishali Metro Station is a nice place.
“Oh my God! “My mother exclaimed. “I forgot to put on the deo. ”
I watched her in horror as my mother pulled her Spinz out of the bag and sprayed enough of it to perfumate the whole station. YOU DO NOT PUT ON DEO IN A METRO STATION, AT LEAST NOT AT THE STAIRCASE! The man who passed us must have sniggered to himself and decided that he would tell the story of a woman who was frantically spraying deo on the stairs of a metro station to his wife at dinner. I imagined them having a good laugh about it.
My mother got the cards top-upped, and so we were able to reach the platform without any hassle. As the train arrived, a sea of people flooded in, and soon, all the seats were taken. We sat on the seats reserved for old or handicapped, and I shut my eyes and dozed off.
My mother told me she’d get off at JLN while I’ll have to go on till Govindpuri.
It was boring till we reached JLN, for I was, for most of the time, trying my best to act like a sick child so that old people out there do not ask me to leave my seat. It was mean, but in my defense, I was sleepy and nauseous.
At JLN, my mother strictly warned me to not to take biscuits, or any kind of food materials, from strangers.
“They give you biscuits and then they kidnap you and take out your kidneys. “She said. The gentleman standing by looked at us, quite baffled. My mother asked me to be wary of that guy. As she left, I instantly raced towards the women’s coach, because that’s what you do when you are seventeen years old and not accompanied by your mother in a metro train. There were two guys there, eyeing the girls. There was a middle-aged man too, who was continuously staring at a woman, who looked like his wife. Of all things, I felt pity for him.
I clutched a pole and let my eyes sweep through a spectacular set of women. Girls! Oh my sweet Heaven! I had never seen a women’s coach, so I was kind of stupefied. They were so pretty and so hot and so rich that I couldn’t even rank them on the basis of their visible attributes. I stared at their dresses, and I observed that each woman was wearing at least forty different colors. I looked at the men behind me, and found all of them wearing check-shirts and dark blue jeans, carrying with them uni-colored bags which evoked nothing beyond pity and sympathy. I felt sorry for those men. And I also felt sorry for myself.
As I browsed through the crowd, my eyes stopped at a girl. And didn’t budge after that.
She had SHORT, SHOULDER-LENGTH HAIR. I was taken even though I could see her right profile only. As she stared out blankly, her earbead twinkled. I wondered what she was wondering. She wore a school uniform but was young, so I guessed she was in senior secondary. Her dress didn’t have forty colours, yet, it felt like she was composed of magnets and my chest had horseshoes galloping inside. Her shoes had straps and her bag was green. Something about her was melancholic.
I wondered if she had a boyfriend. I wondered if her father was alcoholic. I wondered if she’d turn around and look at me. If she would, would she give it a thought, or let me be a background image that doesn’t matter? Will I be remembered, or will this insignificant moment pass? Will I get out of the train first, or will she? I wondered what she’d be like in fifteen years. I wondered if I’d see her again.
It was silly, but it felt good. I find girls with short shoulder-length hair quite intriguing. Maybe it’s because of my past. Maybe I’ve some kind of obsession. I don’t know.
I imagined all the rare possibilities that I could have in this small journey, and as it was about to end, I took a final look at my beautiful copassanger.
“You’re under the surveillance of a cctv camera. “said a mechanical voice, “please do not misbehave. ”
It was one of the general instructions they speak every once in a while, yet, I felt guilty, as if I’d shoplifted a spoon or something.
The train stopped at Govindpuri, and I got out. She was still there, but I didn’t turn to look. As the doors closed behind me and the train left the station, I wondered if time could really measure love stories….
The girl never saw me.