Traveling from Kanpur to Delhi, in the 3 tier AC coach of Shramshakti Express.

My train of thoughts runs wild, and it goes wilder if my eyes happen to catch a damsel in distress. It is at its extreme if that happens when I find such a dame on a train or a flight. I’m not a very helpful person, but helping (beautiful — to the eyes of the beholder) girls comes to me naturally. So, it was a dream come true when I found one such on my way to Delhi. It was not an accident I met her — accept the fact, you geek! You look for all those 18-36 years old females on the reservation chart of your compartment. So did I. Just that my odds were better that day than yours have ever been. Why not? After all I paid Rs. 300/- extra for a tatkaal (emergency) reservation. I looked up the chart and right above, the side-lower berth that I was alloted, was she. My eyes widened with the glee of a possible “make out” that night.

I had a problem that maddened me and all the way on my 1 hour journey from my institute to the railway station it kept me busy. “She would be a good break from my problems,” I thought.

I boarded the train first. Shramshakti Express leaves Kanpur around midnight, and most of the passengers had already started snoring in their deep slumber. So the lights of the compartment were switched off making it harder to see in the darkness of the night — “darkness of the night” is added just to make the anecdote more gripping, it was a moonlit night otherwise. 😉

There she came — alone as expected, carrying something like double the weight of the luggage than her own. Boarding the coach, she tripped. I rushed to her to lift her cursing myself for why I was not standing at the door to catch her. Helped her with her luggage — if the same happened to a guy, I, most certainly, would have left him to die there itself. I wish I could have helped her in her arduous climb to reach the side-upper berth; you know why! Just then, somebody woke up and lit the compartment. I caught her first glimpse. Let us start at the top: her hair was flowing brown — probably dyed, her eyes big bright, behind those three-piece all-glass spectacles, sharp facial attributes with a little cute nose and silken skin. Let us not go describing below the neck, let us just say that she had “a perfect figure”, and she flaunted it proudly in that figure-hugging “salwaar-kameez”. Call it the tenderness of the moment, when I had a serious doubt on the “myth” part of the mythical stories, for she seemed like an angel. Suddenly the urge of embracing a religion took over my own self. Nothing serious! The urge was just a temporary thing.

And I was back in business: I was in love… again!

I could not sleep. Not for her, rather for my problems. I hope she did not either, although I heard hushed noises of snores and moans time and again. Lying there, somewhere around 4:00 AM, I started thinking about her and me together in a train with nobody else around. I tried my best to shrug those thoughts off, but… I already told you about my wild thoughts. Following is the story of that imagined “encounter”.

Picture this: a local train.

Having troubles? Let me make it easy for you. Imagine Delhi metro rail, although it’d be impossible to find just one person in the metro rail.

I am sitting there reading the newspaper. It is that time of the day when you just want to rest or read or both. Train stops at a station, and there comes a girl. She finds, of all places, the seat right opposite me. Doors get locked. I watch her curiously pretending I am busy reading whatever it is I’m reading. She gently places her belongings down and grabs a book: “Love Story” by Erich Segal. Yes, sometimes I think too cheesy or corny or cheesy corn, but that — or some Austen novel — is what I’ve seen majority of girls reading. I suddenly realize that she’s looking at me. It is in the wide open now, the flirting. The occasional looks change into long stares. Who will break the ice? Who will talk first? Me!

“I don’t know you, do I?” I ask hoping for a conversation.
“No, you don’t,” is her plain reply.
Me: Yeah, right!

[I can’t keep my eyes on her anymore, as I pretend to look at the other side of the empty train. She, probably understands how awkward I’m feeling after that question, and continues…]

“Are we going to say anything else?” is her question.
“Well, I was weighing up the relative merits of embarrassed silence against opening the flood-gates and drowning you in a wave of verbiage,” I say smiling.

[She: stunned!]

“What?!” I ask rhetorically.
“Verbiage?” is her question in a dismay of sorts.
“Well… What can I say? I’m caught in a torrid relationship with the English language.”

[She takes her shoes off and brings her legs together in a position that seems more of Yoga than relaxed.]

“By the sound of it, an abusive relationship,” she retorts.

[Both of us leave subtle smiles for each other to cherish for our lives to come.]

“Ah! My stop,” I say and start walking. With another wide smile, I pun, “It was nice embarrassing myself.”
“It was nice mocking you,” she throws back at me.

I go down to the gate, take a step down thinking, “the girl is beautiful and has a sense of humor …and I felt a spark.” I suddenly turn back and go sit where I was before.

“Wasn’t that your stop?!” [More of a surprise in her voice.]
“Yeah. But I realized it was far too early in the day to go home. Plenty of time to embarrass myself in front of strangers first.” Yet another rhetorical comment comes from me.

[She laughs. I like her laughing. Dimples in cheeks. Reminds me of my first FOSLA (Frustrated One-Sided Love Affair) Priety Zinta. I have a question in mind. I hesitate asking, but finally give in.]

“So… Hey, would you like to go and get a coffee or something, sometime,” comes from me — a question that has been asked over and over by guys around the world to the girls around the world ever since the discovery of coffee as a drink.
With a smiling “Yes, I’d like that,” she approves.

“Okay. G… g… good.”

[I can’t believe her. The joy makes me stammer.]

“I’m glad,” I say in a relaxed hushed voice.
“I’m glad too!” Another approval from her.

I looked outside. Sun was about to rise. Dawn has its own beauty, all blue! “Why can’t my life has the glorifying beauty of the dawn,” I thought. Train started slowing down gradually, coming to a halt at New Delhi Railway Station. I thought of waking her up, but restrained myself. I came down to the platform looking for a good cup of tea. Too bad, you can’t smoke on railway stations these days. As the “chai-waalah” poured the hot tea, I saw through the steam of it, she leaving with a guy with their arms wrapped around each-other’s waist, displaying to the entire world — to my misery — the “love” for each other.

I felt embarrassed again, but then, all great love stories have tragic ends. I took out the phone to call Swap…


1 thought on “Embarrassment”

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