Tuesday, April 22, 2014

22nd April 2014, Late Night

I remember I was in an Indian Railway's train. My parents and sister were in another bogie. I was in this second last bogie, having only few births and lots of empty space as in goods train bogie, with this girl I had befriended on this journey. She was essentially deaf and dumb (d&d) and we talked in sign languages. She talked about a lot of things and I learned a lot of sign language from her. I had a lot of fun with her. Perhaps I think my mother, once in a while, wondering where I was, must have got up from her berth and come and check on me. And she always finds me when she sets out to look for me so in this case I'm sure she must have seen me with this girl and that I was having a good time and left it at that.
My father had been posted to this new place, a hill station really. I like hill stations, its the winters that I don't. So I wasn't really looking forward to the stay as winters feel quite gloomy. It was probably late evening as it was getting dark outside, as the train stopped at a station. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn't know if this was the station we need to get down at. My father had told me the name and had asked me to keep an eye out for the station name at all the stations the train stops at. I think I had missed few stations on the way while having a nice conversation with my new friend, the d&d girl.
Now when this train stopped at this station to search for the board with the station name on it. Couldn't find any nearby. Before I could ask someone name of the station, a man behind me said, "Abhishek, what are you doing? This is not our station, its the next one." I turned around and saw this man who had accompanied us since the beginning of the journey. Perhaps he was my father's colleague or his subordinate. In panic, with a lot of effort, I finally paced towards the train. From the corner of my eye, I saw my friend get down from the train and walk towards the other end of the train. I watched her walk away and finally disappear behind the train, perhaps walking to the other side of the station. I never got her name.
By this time the train had picked up enough speed to outpace me. Frantically, I started running, trying to catch up with one of the sleeper class bogies but when I saw that the bogies were not connected anymore but locked out to each other, my pace dampened. But I couldn't just let the train leave without me. I turned back and looked around but couldn't spot that man who had asked me to board the train. Suddenly I saw this lady and her son trying to get to this last sleeper bogie door. That door was within my reach but I helped the boy and the lady get in by falling back.
Holding my knees and panting, I saw the train leave the platform. I saw the train turn at the end of the platform sharply towards its left and took an obtuse turn. I stood up straight and looked around the platform. It had started to get cold as the darkness filled itself around. I checked my pockets and realized I didn't have my mobile phone. I only had my wallet. That was of no use as I didn't have any of my parents' or sister's contact no. with me. I was getting scared to be in a strange winter-like town.
As I was about to step out of the railway station, I saw my parents and my sister pacing towards me, with 4 dogs on a lease.
Yeah, 4 brown dogs of different breeds and different sizes. I think one of them was for me. It was then I remembered that every person living in that town owned a dog. Its not like I don't like dogs, I do like them, its the licking part I don't like. In fact I have been really good with dogs, thanks to my innate ability to converse with them. In fact that's how I could converse with that girl I had met on the train. My sister knew that and I had taught her a trick or two on how to interact with dogs as she likes dogs a lot. Now she seemed quite delighted to have her own dogs so was walking with two, my dog and her dog. She smiled as she saw them walk in front of her and grinning broadly, she waved at me. My father didn't look as delighted as her but he was looking generally okay with a dog at the end of the leash he was holding. My mother was the one at the height of her vigilance. She tried to keep the dog away from her but was cautious enough not to lose it.
My father later told me he just wanted to see my reaction to the situation of being deserted in a strange railway station. As expected, he said, there was no reaction. I did freeze, both due to cold and fear. I met the man again, who'd confused me into chasing the train like a mad dog, at our house few days later. He said he'd never have let me get on that train had I managed to do so.
I liked the big old stone-made standalone bungalow my father had been allotted, and our own garden with grass and trees and greenery around, like the Dukes and the Earls lived in. It was quite dark by the time we had reached the bungalow on my first evening in this town. Despite the impending winters, I felt quite curious about this place and was looking forward to my days ahead, especially hoping to meet the girl I befriended on the train once again. Perhaps I might find her where I saw her last, the railway station.