A red digital clock at Howrah station platform no.3 showed 4:29; the diabolical figure resonated through my mind as missing the 4:30 local would surely have been fatal. I dragged my over-exhausted right leg amidst the sea of people and managed to somehow scamper into the much dreaded first compartment. My momentary inflated ego was crushed immediately by a nonchalant “Murshidabad er gamcha” seller who shrugged me off by a very courteous “dada shorun”. Just as I had managed a decent standing place, I saw something very odd lurking in a general local train compartment, a young lady (yay!).
As fate might have had it, she was directly looking at me(now that doesn’t happen), only to ask me if the train would stop at Konnagar (such a romance killer). A nod came in reflex.
She was not the one for the poets and it was exactly that which made everything so poetic.
The tired train moved with a grunt and slacked like a baby to school. She couldn’t find the perfect posture in the overcrowded compartment and kept turning; new to “daily passenger-i” I thought. With every turn, it seemed she stole one glance here and another glance there as if it opened up different facets to her.
I, the skilled playboy that I am, remained silent and observed the proceedings in awe. Her protruding rucksack hit me sometimes as a reminder from my inner Barney Stinson to start up a conversation. I did, in my head of course as the hawker raved on about his “quality cotton maal” in the background.
I don’t know if it was fact or fiction, but after a few moments, I saw her conversing with another guy. A flurry of emotions wrapped around my brain as if to make folly out of my failures. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.
There was nothing romantic, or there was I don’t know! But at that very moment, I realised what could have been! There are so many people, we don’t know, who could have been so much more, if only…
I didn’t know if she knew him or she did not (please be the former), honestly I don’t care! She was all smiles and so was he.
Is this a tale of love lost or stalking gained I don’t know. But what I do know is that trillion tales have been told of this style but very few are actually experienced.
Everything it seems stopped that day, for them, for me; except the train, which wasn’t supposed to stop at Konnagar (which I remembered after getting down at Bally).
What have I done! What have I done! What have I done!