Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Love, Life , Lessons!!

January 1960 It was that time of the year when I felt sad and angry on my family, leaving for my boarding. The age old family tradition of sending boys to boarding schools didn’t go down well with me. The rigid discipline at boarding and royal treatment at home created a gradient in my life. Draped in a red blazer over a white shirt and black pants, which was our uniform along with my luggage, I set out for my hostel at Raniganj. The biggest issue reaching there was travelling. Although I had first class tickets, I severely missed out on interacting with people. I had men at disposal to ask, “May I get you something, sir?” but probably none in that world to ask, “May I play with you for some time?”

 Books were my ultimate solace and lone sense of entertainment, alas they never spoke back! As I neared the end of first part of my travel, it was dark outside. The station where I got down, Cottage Hill Road was a deserted one. Even the biggest festival happening would go unnoticed at this place. Come at any time, this place showed no signs of life. Only a tea vendor adorned the platform. And to his company, a railway man who was the in-charge of the station. I politely asked him, “When will the train to Raniganj arrive?” He gave me a cold blooded look, paused and answered plainly “2 hours late, train at platform by 11:30 pm.” The cold blooded look coupled with his announcement could never amuse anyone on this planet. I pity the old tea vendor who had no regular customer but this man. 2 hours to kill, on a weird platform, showing no signs of life, no sight of a town or village as long as I could see. This led to my frustration even further on my family for this suffering. I sat on a bench, head bent down and cursing everyone who were responsible for the 120 minutes I shall have to suffer.

 With my head still bent down, I felt a tap on my shoulder and I looked up to see a woman clad in a cream color sari in front of me. Her face had a magnetic charm and her eyes were deep blue, she had cheeks resembling the Himalayan apples. We conversed as
 Lady: Waiting for a train, son?
Me: Yes, madam
 Lady: No formalities please, you can call me aunt. When is your train arriving?
Me: Its 2 hours late. Expecting it at 1130 pm
 Lady: Okay, could I sit and talk to you?

 Those last words were nectar for my ears, as if God had answered my prayers, err maybe my curses. She sat beside me and asked about me, my school and my home. I didn’t ask her anything as the rigidity lessons at hostel had made me only answerable and not questioning! She ran her hand on my blazer and said that it was the finest fabric she ever felt, she held my hands with a comforting feeling. I must say, her hands were the softest I ever touched, maybe babies have such softness. She smiled and said, “I must say, when you grow up, you shall be handsome and smart.” I plainly smiled and out of boredom, I asked whether she would like to play with me. She smiled and nodded yes. The smile on her face made her look an angel, that’s when I named her in my heart, “Angel”.

 Our talks went long and suddenly I heard my name from behind. It was Rakesh with his mother. Rakesh was my classmate and unfortunately my roommate too, I always hated his bragging nature but was the only one whom I could meet here, if not for my angel. Her mother was a typical zamindaran; short, stout, heavy gold bangles and necklace. I greeted her and return I got an egoistic smile. Next 10 minutes what we heard were their bragging about what they did in the vacation. I kept looking at my angel, she was smiling and giggling, looking extremely beautiful.

A goods train was passing by, a man crossed the track just before it, missing by a whisker, delay of a millisecond and he was gone for sure. During this, I felt that angel had grabbed my palm very lightly and her eyes shut. I calmly held her other palm and assured that everything was alright. She ran her palm across my face and hugged me tight. And then started Rakesh’s mom about this incident and the society and blah blah and she thought my angel to be my mom and complaining to her about this, all my angel could do was nod her head and all I could do was drowning myself in angel’s eyes, for the first time I saw tear in her deep blue ocean eyes. Her eyes always reflected her innocent heart.

 Finally the station in-charge declared that train would arrive in a minute or so. We hustled and got ready with our luggage. The train chugged in and the station in-charge warned that it would only halt for 2 minutes. This meant I only had 120 seconds with my angel! I hugged her tight in my embrace and she ran her hands through my hair and kissed me on my cheek. I returned her gift with the same and boarded my train. Even as Rakesh’s mom was giving her stern instructions, I had been watching my angel and the teardrop which rolled over her apple cheeks. The sight was becoming unclear, that’s when I felt my watery eyes. As the whistle blew and the engine chugged, our eyes were engaged to each other till the platform had vanished in the woods, that was the last sight of my Angel, maybe this is what they call love. Was it love? Yes, no, maybe?  

Even today my memories of my angel are fresh as if we had met a few hours back. Even today whenever I visit Raniganj, Cottage Hill Road is a special place for me; I stare at that platform, that bench, that tea stall even today. My kids get confused as to what is so fascinating in that lifeless station. They don’t know, this was the same lifeless place which taught me life.
Life’s a gift, it changes every time. Nothing remains constant in life, few people make it special, not necessary close to you, but definitely close to your heart. Life is defined by such moments, such people. Never program or control your life. Don’t just lead a life, live it!

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