Anna, Oru Nungambakkam Return kudunga,
Grabbing the ticket she dashed to the nearest escalator onto the platform. For a moment she got confused if it was the right direction that she was walking to and asked the man walking near her.
Amam ma. Indha platform than, He said.
Relieved, she wiped the tiny sweat beads that had formed on her forehead with her stole and reached the platform only to see the train already there. Running towards the train, muttering a small prayer in her breath, she got into a general compartment, which was a departure from the usual Ladies one that she boards.
This has been the routine for her for the past two months. Her life has been filled with train timings and bus routes now that Intra-city travel is a habit for her. She had grown to love it since she was the kind of person who likes her space and would be happy in her own world. She liked observing people and may be spinning imaginatory stories about them in her head.Today was just another day for her. Another day of reaching on time and getting back home at a decent time in the evening.
She boarded the General compartment and stood a little inside and fumbled her bag for her earphones. Listening to music has become a Fad these days. Everybody seems to have some song or the other plugged into their ears all the time. Even when walking on the road, crossing a traffic laden junction, commuting by buses or trains and what the heck, even when riding Two-Wheelers. She was no exception to this. Just that her Fad had begun much much earlier than the city of Chennai had adopted this as a habit.
Thuli thuli thuli mazhaiyai vandhaale…. Chuda chuda chuda maraindhe ponaale…
While the song played through the speakers, her eyes gazed out to the vast beach that was fleeting past her now. She longed to go there and while away her time. Sadly, the only thing that stood between her and her wish was the blasting Sun that was over the city. Sighing she turned to look inside the compartment. It was then that her eyes struck at something. Oh wait! Somebody.
Tall and wheatish, dressed in crisp formals and adoring geeky glasses that suited his face perfectly, there was a stranger who looked classy. She continued her observation of him. Everything about him was attractive. His backpack, the way he stood still reading something on his phone, his slightly careless demeanor, the roughly combed hair, the perfect stubble, everything. She was thankful that he was busy with his phone. She could not look at him more if he looks up from his phone, sheesh ! That would be embarrassing, she thought.
The more she looked at him, the more she wanted to start a conversation with him. It felt as if he was a long-lost friend. Sadly, she had to be satisfied with mere staring at him from a couple of grilled meshes apart. It did give her a strange pleasure. She made sure to steal a few more glances at him.
Halfway through a dozen times of looking at him, she found him looking back at her, in the same subtle manner she was doing. This happened twice or thrice. Her playlist blared another breezy song and her lips curled to a light smile at the corners. She noticed him about to smile too, may be understanding the reason behind her smile.
She felt comfortable. She felt happy. She felt awesome, just looking at him, fully knowing that he was a stranger and that they were never going to meet.
“Next Station, Chennai Fort”
Sounded the pre-recorded voice of a lady.
The train came to a halt and she alighted and so did he. In the haste of a moment to check if her belongings were safe, she had forgotten about him. Once set, she turned back to see if he was there, only to see a sea of human heads, rushing for their livelihood.
Such is the magic of every day.