Arun felt very cold. He doesn’t believe what was happening. She just pulled his hands and he stood up from his seat. She held his hands for quite some time and crossed people and reached the compartment door. Arun looked shocked. He was staring at her when he was readily next to her near the compartment door. Train was not on stop, but it was running continuously without a brake and they could feel a heavy shake on the door. Air was flushing alongside the door, making her hair flowing in air like waves.
“So tell me Arun,” she started abruptly staring at him.
Arun, who was already taken aback by the happenings around didn’t say a bit. He was not having an eye contact with her. Instead, he was seeing outside.
“Look here and answer me,” said Priyanka. Arun was staring at her.
“Nothing,” said Arun and stepped to move inside.
But Priyanka was not leaving him and put her hand before him blocking his way.
“What do you want Priyanka? Please leave me alone” cried out Arun.
Passengers who were sitting beneath the seats looked up Arun. He was in his upper berth and was crying out loud “Leave me alone.”
All the people including the married couple stood up and watched Arun in his upper berth.
Arun was tapping his hands and swinging his legs and uttered. Priyanka was sitting beneath him. She stood up and tapped his hands. To his shock, he woke up from his sleep unconsciously.
Arun woke up in all of a sudden and looked everyone staring at him. He wiped his eyes and looked at everyone again. This time also none moved their eyes. They were looking at him like an alien. Priyanka, started giggling all round. She couldn’t able to control her laughter and sat in the lower berth covered her mouth with her hands and giggled.
“What?” asked Arun to the fellow people who were watching his comedy drama lively. Nobody said anything, gave one dirty look and took their seats.
Arun was quite amused by their reactions. He started to think of what has led them to watch him more curiously. He wiped his eyes and bent forward to look beneath. He was amazed to see Priyanka was silently laughing in the corner of the window seat which she had occupied few minutes earlier.
Now Arun slightly got to understand, something might have happened in the time of his sleep. He arranged himself more in good manner and slowly came down and sat on the berth. The time was 7 PM in the evening and the environment was very dark.
There was a gap between Arun and Priyanka’s seat. Arun looked right and the person who was already sitting has gone somewhere and the place seemed to be quite empty for long time, decided to move around.
Arun moved to the middle and quietly seated. Priyanka who was in a phone call to his next also was comfortably seated. To their opposite there were two young boys and an aged old man. So the people who were before had already departed except Arun & Priyanka.
Priyanka turned to his right and found him staring at her. But immediately she fell into a laughter, where she closed her mouth with her hands and Arun found it embarrassing.
“Khanna, sir,” said a small ponderous man with a tub full of night dinner meals. Arun watched him and shook his head. The man looked at Priyanka. She also shook his head and he has to leave now. Arun stared hardly at Priyanka and she doesn’t know what it means to her.
“Arun,” she uttered and looked him. He didn’t move a bit. She tapped him and now slightly moved his body. “What’s it man? Looking me so hardly?” said Priyanka and waits for a response from him.
“Absolutely nothing. I’m just reckoning the beauty of yours with mine!” said Arun and slowly came near to her.
Priyanka became much afraid of him. She turned herself looking at the window. In a few minutes Arun moved himself and drank a lassi, which was bought earlier from the vendor. Her commentary was still running in his mind.
“So what’s up Priyanka?” asked Arun with a tense mood. He very well got to know that she’s afraid of his behavior. He tried to limit his feelings. He wanted to ask a sorry to her for his behavior, but couldn’t.
“Nothing Arun need to have dinner and would sleep” said Priyanka and turned her face in a quick succession. “Ah, yes” he replied and wiped his eyes. He started to feel sleepy. He wasn’t in the mood to eat dinner that night, just settled up rapidly in his upper berth as usual.
It was a complete staid journey for him from the first till the end. The next morning when he opens his eyes, he would be in Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus. Her appellations attracted him so much as when he closes his eyes he gets remembered of her very easily.
Arun climbed up to his berth and started to look beneath her and wished to ask sorry. But he felt it was expedient to do so. He was just silent and closed his eyes. Slowly he slept as the train was rapidly moving towards its destination. He felt as if he’s a time-worn machine which is less interesting to others.
The train reached the Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai @ 4 AM in the early morning and everyone was in the long queue for getting down from the compartment.
Arun & Priyanka both shared a weak smile together and proceeded to exit. People were slowly moving inside the coach and they could hear the sounds of porters outside for the baggage. Whenever he heard those voices his mind flashes towards his encounter with the porter in Chennai. He smiles and proceeds towards the door.
Priyanka staved in the unbearable silence between them.
“Hi,” said Priyanka and tapped his shoulders. Arun turned and saw her in amazement.
“Yes,” he replied calmly. He was fain to proceed.
“Tell me your number”
– TO BE CONTINUED