Sometimes, a journey is the best way to move away.
Old African Proverb
His thoughts raced faster than the train he was sitting in. Old memories flashed across his mind as the stations whizzed by. He got up from his window seat just to stretch his legs and arms. The train was speeding in order to make up for lost time. How he wished there was a way for him to make up for all the time he had lost. What opportunities did we allow to go by, went the McCartney song he so loved. And he found himself humming, Did I ever….and once more thoughts of her filled his mind.
She always seemed to be smiling. Her wavy auburn hair seemed to bounce in sync with her walk. The air smelt nice and birds seemed to sing sweeter when she was around. There seemed to be an ethereal glow about her, wherever she went. And when she sat next to him, the glow seemed to rub off on him too. Often he heard himself hum for no reason.
The train continued with its frantic journey. Leaving behind a blur of small towns and green fields, alternating at regular intervals. Vendors and salesman advertising their wares for sale continued their sing-song dialogues. He could hardly hear what they were shouting, so lost was he in his thoughts. They almost formed the background to the opera of the past playing in his mind.
A cup of green tea and a double-shot espresso. That always stayed constant. Puff pastry, grilled chicken sandwich, cream rolls…they changed depending on the time and…more significantly…on what kind of a mood she was in. More cream roll or dutch truffle ordered usually meant she was in a foul mood. Over time he learned to keep quiet on such occasions
The coffeewala stood next to him almost as if he knew his thoughts. “Make it strong and no sugar,” he said sitting up from his slouched position. He rubbed his hands as the AC of the train was now beginning to affect him, it was getting cold. The warm coffee touching his lips made him feel nice and snug.
“Must you always slurp on your espresso”? She had sounded really caustic that day. “You really could do with some training in social grace and manners you know”. He looked up at her surprised, rudely awakened from his state of bliss which always prevailed when he was with her. Her face had no smile on it, as she stared back at him, looking in his eyes. More like looking through his eyes, as he felt the pierce of her gaze cutting though him. “What’s the matter”, he asked a bit bewildered and unprepared. “I think I’ve had enough”, she said. “This cannot go on forever. I cannot go on”, she was getting up to leave as she spoke. “But…listen…we….”, he didn’t even get a chance to complete his questions. There were going to be no answers.
“That’ll be ten rupees sir”, the coffeewala said extending his arms in anticipation of the money. “Here’s twenty and give me one more”, he replied, happy to be brought back to the present. His fellow passengers seemed taken aback slightly by the unexpected aggression in his tone. The coffeewala happily served him one more, adding an extra spoon of coffee to make it stronger and hurriedly moved on. He sat up more comfortably on his seat. His thoughts of the past disappeared as he stared hard at the cup of coffee and brought it closer to his lips. He slurped hard and strong on it, making a few of his fellow passengers look up once again. He didn’t care. He liked the way the journey was going. His smile grew wider with each noisy slurp he took from the cup. The train moved on…
Copyright (c) Pratik Majumdar