Sitting by the window, she looked out at the scores of green fields rushing by, some with specks of brown and white grazing on them, others ready to be harvested (or so she felt.) As far as her myopic vision allowed, she could see land and huts but no two-legged mortals around. It was hard to imagine the city scrapers and dust and grime were just a half hour away!
The strands of her hair seemed to have a life of her own, with the wind running havoc through it. Every few seconds she would push them down with her slender fingers.
“Uhh!” she muttered as something entered her eyes. She immediately looked away from the window blinking hard and fast! Just then her phone vibrated. Squinting one eye, she started feeling around on the seat to get hold of her cell. She retracted her cell phone from beneath the magazine lying under her rucksack.
Holding up her cell, she saw her friend Ankita’s number flashing.
“Damn,” she cursed. “Hold the line,” she spluttered, dropping the phone trying to get all her hair together, because it was flying in her face since she’d turned away from the train window. She caught a set of eyes staring at her, a bemused look on his face. Momentarily, their eyes locked before she turned hers away. She rolled her hair in a bun and once she was sure it was all secured, picked up her cell.
“Sorry, sorry Ankita. Say.”
“Yes, I got a reservation. Just whiling away my time. Tomorrow at 6:45 am.”
Slightly conscious of a lingering gaze, she looked towards the guy diagonally sitting across. She caught him looking away. She let her eyes wander while she still could.
The bright eyes, the sharp nose, the slight stubble on the chin, the broad shoulders, and the Jhumpa Lahiri in hand were granted more than a lingering gaze.
“Yeah, I’m listening,” she said, tearing her eyes away from her co-passenger.
“No, I don’t know what to say. It’s shocking, really.”
She disconnected the call, a relief on her face.
He got up and strode along the length of the corridor of the compartment.
“Lean, well-built, handsome and travelling alone,” she thought, her eyes following his stride.
Too old school to think beyond that, she got back to admiring the orange hues ebbing into the dusk sky, pushing out all other thoughts.
She felt his presence around. She looked away from the window and saw him standing near the other end of the berth. He took off his slippers, sat and started to make himself comfortable.
“What the hell!” she thought, before she realized it was his berth. She had the upper berth. Slightly embarrassed, she crossed her legs and gathered all of her belongings towards her body.
An empty packet of chips lay in the crevice of the seats, fluttering dangerously enough to fly in his face. She kept eyeing it before making a move. Following her gaze, he prised the packet out of the clutches of the folding berths, folded it and tucked it carefully beneath the seat.
He gave her a little smile but she had turned away before that. Or had she?
She picked up a magazine to read while he pored over ‘Lowland’. Every now and then she would steal a glance at him, all the while self imposed precautions airing in her head. She knew better.
Dinner was being served. “It was that late already?” she wondered, glancing at her watch to confirm. There was a family travelling in the same compartment. Watching them have dinner together, the kids bothering each other, the father helping out the mother with disposing the dinner ware away, reminded her of her family and their train journeys together!
Instinctively, a soft smile lingered across her lips.
She was beautiful in an unassuming way, he thought. She seemed to have no airs, and for no apparent reason, he wanted her to be sensible enough and oh so single!
To be continued…