A journey to remember – part of it at least (he he)
By Poonkothai Alagarsamy — Nandini 😀👇
23.30. It was raining cats and dogs at Manchiryal railway station.
It has happened twice before. No, not the rain, I’m talking about the delay. 6+ hours delay due to some railway track work. The train was supposed to reach Warangal by 17.55 but it was still at Manchiryal.
The couple next to my closed quarters were laughing at something, I presume, of an inside joke.
Outside my curtained side lower berth, TTE was getting calls with instructions from his superior.
TTE – “Yes mam?”
Lady on the other end of the phone (LOP): “Has dinner been served to the passengers?”
TTE – “They took orders in the evening but nothing after the recent delay in departure from this station mam.”
LOP: “Alright, kindly check if there’s water available. If food is required for any of the passengers, please make sure that the pantry is open until further notice.”
TTE: “Yes, mam. Not to worry, we’ll handle it. Vignesh Ramulu garu ki health ba ledu madam.” (Mr. Vignesh Ramulu, TTE’s colleague is unwell) TTE explained his condition some more in Telugu.
LOP: “Okay, we’ll send a doctor in sometime. Ask him to rest and you take care of things.”
TTE: “Sure, mam. I’ve given him Dolo. We’ll wait for your updates. Thank you.”
He disconnects the call only to face a 30+ man with a worried look on his face and urgency in his body language to talk to TTE.
30+ man: (In a polite and worried tone in his voice) “Sir, Chennai ki eppudu reach avdam rep? Nak Visa interview undhi. Late avtadi, track work undhante IRCTC lo prior information ivvali kada. Chala kashtam kada sir ilanti delays during critical times..?”
(Sir, when will we reach Chennai tomorrow? I’ve got to attend my Visa interview. If there’ll be any delays like this IRCTC should inform passengers prior to the journey date. These kinds of delays are highly inconvenient during critical times, right sir?)
TTE: Sir, the work has been going on for the past ten days. Due to some emergency it’s delayed a couple of times and this information has been updated on IRCTC as well. It won’t take much time now, not to worry. You can get down at Warangal in a couple of hours and take different transportation if you prefer but we’re hoping to reach Chennai (MAS – Chennai central railway station) by 8 am at the earliest.
30+ man: Someone just said that we’ll reach Chennai only at noon. Even with what you’re saying, in an hour, I won’t be able to get ready and go to the interview. Okay, sir. Thank you. Please let me know when we arrive at Warangal. I’ll try and figure something out.
He moved away from my seat muttering something under his breath.
I was feeling peckish but I had 200 more pages out of 350 to keep me company. So, it was okay.
Meanwhile, the rain outside hasn’t stopped but has now reduced to just splatters on my window like a short stroke of a paint brush made repeatedly at random points on the canvas.
I’ve always loved this thing about rain. I don’t know if any of you have noticed how you can see rain falling down, only to an extent. I’ve tried ‘n’ number of times to find one extra droplet after another that would be leading towards the dark clouds but it was all in vain. Not entirely, I mean I did and do enjoy the way the raindrops fight to kiss my face all the time. I know right…duh, I’ve told those many times too that I’m not theirs to play with and they never seem to listen. So, I gave in and eventually accepted the miraculous love they seem to shower upon all of us irrespective of who we are or what we are.
Train of thoughts kept coming forth even though I was reading with half of my mind focusing on the “brush strokes” on my window glass. Like, you know how we all have somebody whom we miss or some scenarios and times that we wish would never go away from us??? Yeah, I’m talking about that one. I’ve never had anything like that, I mean, not with rain at least. It’s just rain as a whole that transports me to a world unknown where it’s like I’m always going to be at the other end of the rabbit hole, you know what I mean? It was different this time. The splatter strokes transported me to a turquoise or teal looking t-shirt cloth with exact strokes of rain on them.
I was trying hard to figure out where they came from when whoosh, a sudden bright light. Just like a slit outside my window. It was hanging in the middle of nowhere and it was moving closer and closer.
I knew the glass was there in between me and whatever that light was but I couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. It was pitch dark outside. The lights were not on only at the platform on my window side at Manchiryal and it was still raining. I was trying not to look at the light but it kept moving closer and closer towards my window. For some time, it felt as though it was trying to talk to me. I even heard a faint voice. A woman’s voice and the light flickered every time I heard her voice. I couldn’t figure out what the light was saying. I thought I’ve started hallucinating things out of nowhere. It’s impossible for anyone, that too a woman – I know, it’s so presumptuous of me but it just felt like it’s almost impossible for anybody to be on that platform at that time. It was raining on top of that so I thought I was going bonkers for real, for a moment.
At that moment, there was a medium to high pitched screeching noise right next to my ear, from inside the compartment and I turned swiftly with a jolt at my heart.
There was a 4 year old looking girl smiling from ear to ear for she has successfully pulled my screen off. I began to play with her and the train started moving. I tried to look back outside my window to figure out but the train has already left the station and it was all okay. Next morning, we reached Chennai safe and sound; all snuggled up in our cozy blankets and closed curtains. I don’t think I want to figure out what that light was, anyway. (Nervous laugh inside my head).
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