How I Found And Lost Him On The Same Train: It Wasn't Mine To Take Anymore

Niyatee Dwivedi Niyatee Dwivedi in Stolen Diaries on 22 July, 2017

As per my habit, I was early again. The train wasn’t scheduled until another two hours. Since childhood, I have internally enjoyed the little chaos and chatter around the railway station, so spending time sitting on a platform was one of the little joys of life. It has gotten really cold recently, but anyway January is always cold in Delhi. Chilly winds are making horrifying noises, after every five minutes or so the platform gets so quite as if people are trying to hear what the winds are saying. But, no matter what, even if the temperature is below 5 degree Celsius, we Indians never miss a chance to say that the weather isn’t very cold this year.

I buy a monthly magazine and sit down on a small dusty stool nearby a tea stall. A tea stall is always buzzing full, with so many different people chatting and enjoying a hot chai in the freezing temperatures of Delhi, kids running around and asking for chips and candies. In this chilling cold, chai is an elixir. I remember having endless cups of chai with my friends, waiting for late trains, while we all traveling to our hometown. When I look around I can see few such groups, carefree and on the pinnacle of their youth. I see a group of three girls and four boys, with an evident couple among them, enjoying bread omelet with chai.

I find myself smiling faintly with their laughter, as if somewhere the 20-year-old girl wants to break free from the loneliness, which makes its way into our lives as we age.
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I am reminded of a particular memory of the distant past, still crystal clear in my mind as if it had happened just yesterday. It was the time when I first met him. To be exact on this very platform no. 10, catching the same train. I was young and filled with zeal for my new life, which comes to you when you first start living alone. I wasn’t alone, but my friends had their seats in a different compartment, so they had left with a promise that anyone of them would definitely come to swap the seat with my neighbour. I was stuffing my mouth with chips when I first saw him staring at me. He wore a blue shirt, sea blue actually, deep black eyes with specs and looked sincere. I ignored him. Then when I was settling down on my window seat, someone tapped on my shoulder to ask me to look after his stuff while he is gone, it was him. That day I didn’t ask my friends to exchange seats.

But like everything in nature, we grew apart. After 5 years we realized that we didn’t want to take the same route forward, though we might have wanted our destination to be the same. We definitely weren’t on the same route anymore. Just like trains, where so many are traveling to the same destination but still so differently. After so many years though, I still respect that journey, it was a journey of a lifetime.

I am awakened from my day-dreaming ritual when someone calls me, for the second time I guess.

“Excuse me, do you mind offering your seat to my child, she is tired of standing.”

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I see a woman, in her early thirties, still young into her marriage, holding her kid. I stand up from my stool and let the baby girl sit. Her mother continues speaking, “Would you mind looking after her for few minutes, I need to use the washroom.” I found myself agreeing with her. The little girl is sitting quietly staring at a tattoo on my left arm.

Few minutes into the babysitting, I hear a very familiar voice behind me. The same husky voice, with a drop of excitement. The girl ran from her spot to the source of this voice. I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and look at him. Yes, it is him. After so many years, again. On the same platform for the same train.

With a heavy heart, I turn around, wishing I am wrong but at the same time wishing I am right. So many thoughts running through my mind, he is married, with a daughter. For a fleeting moment I almost wanted to walk away, but then I want to look and I did.

I turned around and found myself staring at the same person who stared at me years back, on the same platform. He was busy hugging his daughter when our eyes met.

After so many years, my heart still skipping a beat. No words are spoken, but so many thoughts are conveyed. I felt a strong yearning, jealousy and a sudden pain, which had taken months to subside, coming back. I don’t know how long this moment will stay, I don’t know if he feels the same, I don’t know if he is sad or if he is happy but his eyes are content. Like a peaceful river flowing through its path no more wanting to be bothered. And that was enough to dissolve the hidden turmoil inside me, tucked away for so long, in a moment, that was enough to give me peace for once and forever.

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“Thank you for looking after her.” His wife smiling.

“It has always been my pleasure.”

That train was no more for me to take.