Woh Kaun Thi

Navi Mumbai was very tensed. Schools were closed early, retail shops were closed early and so were the government offices and for that matter even the public transportation was to be shut down in a few hours. It was Bala Saheb’s court hearing and obviously the government was preparing in anticipation of a serious backlash. I admired the proactive measures the government adopted, only problem was that I was going back to Hyderabad and had a train reservation.

My dads friend who was hosted me for a couple of days suggested I leave a couple of hours before than what I had originally planned for, so I can account for the unknowns. I heeded to his advice and somehow managed to get to the train station with plenty of time left for my train departure. It then took about 10-15 minutes to locate the train to Hyderabad. After grabbing a few bottles of water, a few magazines for reading and some snacks, I comfortably sat down in the lower berth of the compartment. I should admit I was relieved that I didn’t have to reschedule my trip and the fact that I was able to get to the train station without a scratch.

There was about an hour left for the train to depart. So i started reading the magazine. And after a while i took a break as i had thought i spent a good 20 – 30 minutes reading the magazine. But it was just 5 minutes. That really scared me. If 5 minutes seemed that long, 24 hours seemed a life time to me. I was getting depressed, really. Just then, i heard a voice, an elderly man calling for help with his luggage. I gave a hand and helped him out. He was sharing the opposite berth in the same compartment. Turns out he was a retired officer in the army, but not much of a talker and neither was I. So after a general introduction, it was the uncomfortable silence. But after a little while, i got used to that. There was about 20 more minutes for the train departure, when the army officer said something that was like a fresh breeze in a hot summer day.

The army officer had to grab something to eat and requested me to look out for her daughter as he was expecting her to join him. The next 15 minutes felt just like a minute. In the meanwhile, the army officer called me yet again and by the time we came back in the compartment, his daughter was there. Must have come from the door on the side of the compartment. She was sleeping in the upper berth. The officer said that she had a long day and was exhausted.

I don’t know why but I just wanted to see her once. I don’t know why.

Then again, i thought may be, just may be, she would wake up in a little while to have her dinner. Obviously i felt awkward asking the officer if she would wake up for dinner, instead I chose to just wait for the next 2 – 3 hours. I didn’t even realize how i spent those couple of hours and it was dinner time. Me and the officer had our dinner, but his daughter didn’t wake up. I gathered some courge to ask him and he said, she is way too tired and would wake up if she really wanted to eat. We went back to the uncomfortable silence again.

I think i might have fallen asleep waiting to see a glimpse of her. I woke up sometime around 6:00am in the morning and i looked up immediately on the upper birth, but there was no one. She was gone and so was the army officer. They must have got down at Nampally before reaching Secunderabad station.

I spent the entire journey in anticipation, in hope of something pleasant, in quest for happiness and not for a moment did i think I about the depressing journey nor did i think about how lonely I would have felt otherwise. There was no one talking to me, there was no one accompanying me but yet the glimmer of hope saw me through the journey. Agreed the journey was just a train journey, but something I had to do it alone. And when travelling the journey alone, who best to accompany than hope.

So it doesn’t matter “Woh Kaun Thi” ?


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