Stories by the Tracks
Story 1: 11.25 Ki Last Local
I came early to catch the train. I also had to get something to eat. Not that I was extremely hungry. I already had a good bread butter toast and corn cheese sandwich in the evening. But I needed someone or something to accompany me, so what if it was just a vada pav or another sandwich stuffed with fresh cut veggies and topped with salt, pepper, oregano and cheese.
I saw the cleaner giving finishing touches to the takeaway counter. Still I proceeded to approach the man at the coupon counter who was busy counting his collections for the day. The man, still counting the notes shook his head with a crooked smile to tell me that I was destined to go alone today. When I got into the train, there was only one guy in the coach with a poker face. I had to recheck the indicator which was shining bright and bold - 11.25 pm - Thane - Slow - 12 coach - will halt at all stations.
I eagerly waited for vendors to make an entry as they do when it is not the last train. The samosa wala, bhel wala, chips wala, seeng chana wala; nobody came in. The only ones who came in were an excited group of friends who had caught an impossible to catch last train. Suddenly a dead coach was full of life and hustle bustle. More people entered as the time approached 11.25 pm.
I was waiting eagerly for the train to move but it didn't. The motorman gave an extra two minutes to the latecomers. There were some more happy entries in these bonus minutes. I didn't put on my earphones as I always did. There were all kinds of noises already happening around me; the people gossiping about their day; some talking on their phones; last minute announcements and finally the train honked. Loud and clear - I am the one to take you from here to there. There was a tone of authority in that sound. As we left the station, I realized that probably, I was not all alone.
And when I reached thane, I realized that the last train to thane is not actually a last train. The indicator was shining bright and bold - 12.05 am - Panvel - Slow - 12 coach - will halt at all stations.
Story 2: The Tiny Little Girl
The little girl knew, she would not be pampered. Probably, would never be in her life. So, when her young mother slapped hard on her tiny bald head, the little girl didn't cry as other children of that age would have done. She instead smiled - with all her little bright teeth on display; she smiled and pinched her mother's cheek with all might, using her little fingers. That hold was possibly hard enough because she was gifted with another slap on that head of hers.
Then the girl opened her bottle. It was a small 250 ml pet cold drink bottle filled with water. With much efforts, she opened the lid of the bottle and drank the water without spilling a drop. She closed the bottle tight and lied down where she was sitting; like she was the queen of the world - stretching herself to cover as much area as possible.
The mother was lost in her own thoughts but she was continuously staring at her child. Probably she was thinking of the hard day ahead of the little break with her little break-partner.The train arrived and I left the tiny little girl happy, innocent and unaware in her tiny little world on the huge platform number nine of the Thane railway station.