LOVE IN SAMPARK KRANTI
LOVE IN SAMPARK KRANTI TEXT © 2016 SREEHARI P.V
All Rights Reserved
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I boarded the Sampark kranti express from Kannur at correct 6.15pm. The train was un usually on time. I had almost 50 hours to kill in the train. My journey ended with the train at Chandigarh. Just as always, I had managed to obtain a middle berth in the train.
As I sat on my seat, no.34, I realised that 33,35,36,37,38,39,40 were all unoccupied. I tried to guess the whereabouts of its occupants. Surely one of them would be a student and at least two would be getting down at Delhi. About half of the total stops of the train were in Kerala, so it was quite unusual for 33-40 to have remained vacant until my entry. But any ways, the seats being vacant only meant that I had managed to obtain sometime of solitude. I gazed out through the trains window grills.
“I don’t want to ever see you in my life again. I hate you. Go away”. However hard I tried, I couldn’t get her out of my head. I had clearly seen her face as she said these words. How had she managed to become such a monster? She had destroyed me completely. She had asked me to go away, but it was she who was following me everywhere. Couldn’t she leave me alone, at least in the train?
The train had reached Kasaragod. Two youngsters came and sat on the seat opposite me. The girl seemed not more than 24 years old and the boy not more than 30. The girl was in a churidar and the boy had worn blue jeans with a red T-shirt. After completing the arrangement of their luggage which consisted of three huge bags, they asked me where I was headed to which I replied that I was headed to Chandigarh to take charge as Assistant Professor in a college there. They told me that they were husband and wife headed for Delhi where the husband worked. I wanted to know nothing more and also didn’t want to share anything more with them. I ignored them and once again started looking out through the window. Fortunately they also decided to ignore me completely and started talking among themselves.
Physically I was at at peace once again, there was nothing present to disturb my body, but she had arrived once again to disturb my mind.
She was seated in the chair. She hadn’t noticed me approaching. As always she was immersed in one of her stupid shows on TV. I had clutched the hammer firmly in my hands. Just one swing of the hammer, I had used a while earlier to knock down a nail on the wall to hang her painting was more than sufficient for her. Just one swing.
I had to think about something else. Once again I turned my attention to the vacant seats around me. So 37 and 38 had belonged to a young couple. They had proved one of my guesses to be correct. Now who were the owners of 36, 39 and 40? Would one of them be a student?
Even though it seemed really absurd, I somehow felt at that instant that the occupants of the seats around me had some connection with my life. It was a foolish thought. But that night I was just about to sleep very near to some people whose identity remains completely unknown to me before their arrival. It was all totally absurd.
When the train stopped at Mangalore station, it was total chaos around me. I was surrounded by five people and many baggages. There was an old guy of 50-55 years, an old woman of 50-55 years, a young woman of 28-30 with a baby sleeping comfortably on her shoulders and two boys of 20-25 who along with the old man was making the most noise. What did they want? To add to my frustration, they were shouting in a language which I couldn’t even identify let alone understand the meaning of the words that they were shouting at each other. For some moments I feared whether I would have to suffer this chaos all the way till Punjab, but my fears were led to rest when I saw the three men standing outside waving bye bye at the two women seated opposite me, beside the young couple. So these two women along with the baby were going to be my fellow passengers. From the soft voices of the two women, I managed to identify their language as Kannada, the native language of the state of Karnataka. Of course even though it’s hard to keep in mind, Mangalore was a part of the state of Karnataka and not Kerala.
They were surely the mother, grandmother and the child. The old man must be the grandfather. Luckily the shouting of the three men had not woken up the baby. The baby was still sleeping soundly and peacefully on the mother’s shoulders. Unlike the young couple the two women ignored me completely which was a blessing. I didn’t want to open up a chit chat with them. But why was my mind yearning so much for solitude when all I managed to gain from solitude was pain? Just as in the past I couldn’t find answers to questions concerning my mind.
The train inched forwards after a long halt of thirty minutes. For the next twenty four hours, it would have to cross many long tunnels as a part of the konkan railway. And as the train passed through these tunnels, there would be nothing except the dark walls off the tunnel to grasp my attention and so during the course of the next twenty four hours, I was going to suffer more of her attacks.
“You are the biggest mistake I have made in my life. I trusted you, I believed everything you told me and this is what I get in return. But you know what; I can still correct my mistake. There are people in this world who love me truly. I can always go back to them and that is exactly what I ‘am going to do.”
She was crying loudly while saying this. She had successfully managed to shed her sorrow through her tears. But how was I going to make my sorrow disappear as I stood there looking into her eyes while she spoke her heart out. The hurt caused by her words was going to stay in my mind for ever. The same hurt once again affected me as I tried to sleep in my berth.
There was a time when I felt like ending my life for not getting to be with her and yet. How quickly things had changed.
No matter however hard I tried, I couldn’t sleep. I looked with shock at my watch. The time was 2.30 am. The train had stopped. I looked out through the window and realized that the station was Madgaon. I saw two girls staring at me. In the dark, they couldn’t see that I was lying awake. One of them was about to touch me in an attempt to wake me up when the other held her back and pointed to the other middle birth. They laughed and a little later the other girl left for the other compartment. It was only after the girl had scrambled on to the middle berth that I managed to see her clearly with the help of the light coming in through the window. I saw that she was young and most certainly a student. She was dressed in jeans and top and I realized that she was very beautiful. About five minutes later I saw a boy climbing on to the side upper berth. I saw that the boy’s eyes were fixed on the girl.
A few moments later sleep finally captured me. I was woken up next day morning by the loud cries of a baby. I had not slept enough. But one quick look at the watch made me get up as the time was 8.45am. The baby’s noise came from below. The mother was holding the child on her lap and trying in vain to make him stop crying. They had slept very early and hence they must have woken up very early. My middle berth prevented her from sitting straight. I quickly got down and folded down the berth. After she went to the bathroom, I got back my position near the window. I sat facing the young couple and the young beautiful girl. It was only after the mother and child returned from the bathroom I noticed that the child was not a small baby after all unless you would consider a three year old to be a baby. The child or the baby had stopped crying and started playing and very soon he had managed to get the attention of all people present around including me. I had until then successfully ignored all my fellow passengers, but it was getting really hard for me to not look at the child and look out through the window. I guessed that he was a boy through his dress. He had worn short trousers and shirt. He was white like his mother and had curly hair. After some time he had become bored of playing with his mother and grandmother and had started visiting each of the others who had been staring at him. It was the young girl whom he liked the most and he spent the most time with her. He placed his hands on my thighs and fully opened his mouth to give me a grand smile. He had white teeth neatly arranged and like his face, his smile was also beautiful and sweet. Six pairs of eyes were turned towards me for watching my response. All I managed to do was to gently smile back at him.
He greatly resembled the child I had dreamt of having until three months ago and of the child I was never going to have again in my life. I had ended everything before the journey and there was nothing I could do now.
The boy had made the passage of time easier and very soon it was lunch time. I had not eaten any breakfast and had ordered egg biryani from the pantry car for lunch. After gulping down the first two handfuls of the biryani, I did not feel like taking a third one. The taste was horrible; in fact there was no taste at all. And yet hunger and the self realisation that I was not going to obtain any better food made me empty the plate.
“Can’t you at least try to cook something good on holidays? How I ‘am supposed to eat this. It’s horrible.”
I saw that her eyes had turned red. This was not going to end quickly.
“This is the best I can do, eat it or leave it. I don’t care. Don’t try to make me your servant. Don’t even think about it.”
“I ‘am not. I understand that you are also working and it’s very difficult for you to cook food on working days. But today is a holiday and before coming to the dining table I just hoped that I would be able to eat something tasty. I ‘am sorry. I forgot that I don’t even have the right to hope for something”
“How can you speak like this? Today even though it’s a Sunday, I woke up at 6.am to prepare your favourite egg curry and look how you reward me for my efforts. Why am I even trying to please a person like you whose heart is made of stone?”
“Egg curry was my favourite when it was prepared by my mother. Now I don’t think I have any favourites.”
“You know what, I hate you. I really hate you. I wish that one day you will leave me forever.”
“Yeah at least we have something common in our wishes.”
The train had passed Ratnagiri station and was moving on a long railway bridge. I thought about the train accidents that had taken place in my home state as the train crossed railway bridges. Was this train also going to share such a fate? I looked at the mother and child sitting beside me. It was of course very wrong of me to think like that. The train’s doors’ always remained open and if needed, I could use it right then.
My thoughts were interrupted by the loud shouts of a lady trying to sell toys for children. No matter how loud she shouted, no one seemed to take any notice of her. People selling all sorts of things from comb to pens and books are very common in long distance trains in India. But the passengers always seemed to ignore them. I wondered whether the lady would be ever able to empty her bucket of toys. It was then I realised that only the young girl and the boy who had entered from Madgaon were present in the seats around me. All the others had gone somewhere. I saw the boy sitting on the side lower birth, turning his head every few seconds to look at the girl. Finally when the girl looked in his direction, he managed to ask her where she would get down. She smiled gently and replied that she would get down at Chandigarh. When the boy told her that he was also studying in a college in Chandigarh, she gave him the name of the college where she did her education. To my amazement it was the college where I was going to take charge as Assistant Professor. The boy told her that he had seen her pretty often in the train. He was just about to open his mouth to say something, when the girl moved to the side by the window and took a novel out of her bag and started reading. To hide the disappointment that was clearly visible on his face, the boy turned his head to the other side.
That night it was much colder in the compartment compared to the previous night. Still it was not freezing cold where we would have to rub our arms to prevent them from becoming red. But the intensity of the cold was more than enough for the wife sleeping on the lower berth to wake up her husband sleeping on the upper berth and ask him to come down and sleep with her citing the reason that she was feeling cold. That night too she had prevented me from falling asleep and as I turned my head I saw the husband and wife cuddled together on the lower berth. And right then I was convinced that what I had seen was going to prevent me from sleeping for another three hours.
She had joined as guest lecturer in the same government college where I was working as Assistant Professor. We met in the library. We both recognised each other instantly and starred at each other’s eyes for longer than usual. Even then her eyes had the magnetic power of attraction that I had experienced four years ago. We didn’t utter a single word. She walked ahead and out of the library. But I was convinced that she would turn back and look at me at least once and she did turn back and stare at me briefly before entering the corridor. I had decided four years ago that I was not going to make any attempts to see her and I was pretty sure that I was not going to see her again in my life. So when I saw her quite unexpectedly that day in college library, I became convinced of the fact that we were meant to be together. Ever since that fateful day in college, I had started believing in fate. And sure enough over the following days we met again and again. The one difference these meetings had with the one’s which happened four years ago was that she was also looking forward to them. After two months of working together we had become sure of the fact that each one of us was not going to be able to take his/her life forward without the support of the other. We got married six months after seeing from the library and I felt that I had the world at my feet.
Next day morning I realised that until then the occupant of the side lower birth had not arrived. It was really unusual for a berth to have remained vacant in a train running only two times per week. I got my answer a few minutes later when I saw a policeman climbing on to the side lower berth. He placed his suitcase below the berth. Was that particular berth reserved for the policeman? I experienced a certain fear on seeing the policeman and I couldn’t stare directly at his eyes. But as always I was sure that I had not committed any wrong in my life. Perhaps my fear was born out of the respect I had as a citizen towards the khaki uniform.
The train reached Nizamuddin station. This station was also a part of Delhi. When I looked outside I was really shocked to see a man lying on a cloth in the space between two rails. Had he slept there for the entire night? From his dirty hands and dirty legs I understood that he made a living by sweeping the floors of trains and collecting without complaint whatever small change the passengers gave him. Of all the spaces in the world, how could a man sleep in the space between two rails for an entire night? Was he that desperate? But as I looked I saw the man getting up and going near the tap used for supplying water to the train. He opened the tap and after taking a brush out of his pocket, started brushing his teeth. He then washed his hands and face and walked over to the other platform and disappeared among the crowd. He was also an Indian just like me.
Moments later I managed to spot him among the crowd. This time there were a lady and two young children accompanying him. All of them were smiling and discussing something. Just like him they were also wearing torn clothes and it was clear from their appearance that it has been days since they had a proper bath. But all of them looked very happy. There was no need for me to feel sorry for the man. Even with a job which could only make him afford for a place between the railway tracks, he had successfully managed to keep his family happy.
Finally the express had reached the most important station in India, New Delhi. Again as the train approached the station, there was a big chaos around me. This was the destination for four of my fellow passengers. As the train came to a halt the young couple were the first to go to the door. Since we had exchanged a few sentences two days previously, they looked at me and said goodbye. But the two women couldn’t depart easily as they had a lot of bags to take with them and a small sleeping child. But to help them, a handsome guy of 30-32 had entered the compartment. From his way of interaction with the two women, I could identify him as the young woman’s husband. He behaved as if he had been waiting eagerly for their arrival. As they walked away, I saw him place an arm around his wife’s shoulders. That was surely another happy family.
I somehow felt that time was going at a faster pace as the train approached its final destination. The policeman left at Ambala station. Now around me only the young girl and the young boy remained. I saw that the boy’s head turned towards the girl almost ten times in every ten minutes. But she didn’t turn her head even once. The girl was extremely beautiful while the boy’s appearance could only be described as average. If anyone else had seen the boys attempt to woo the girl, then they would have told him to give it up stating that there was no chance for the girl to like him just by looking at him. But I would advise him otherwise. I wanted to instruct him to not lose patience as what is meant to be together would somehow automatically come together.
She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. In fact I was pretty sure that anyone who ever saw her would also share my view. When I saw her for the first time she was doing her plus two while I was in my third year of b.tech. I started the habit of seeing her in the evenings as she returned from school and also in the mornings when she went to school. But along with that I had also started the habit of looking constantly at the mirror and every look I had at the mirror made me disheartened. I began to hate my appearance. I had been convinced that there was no way she was going to love me. But somehow I managed to believe otherwise and continued seeing her for an entire year. Finally at the end of the year I mustered the courage to talk to her. She told me exactly what I had expected and prepared myself to hear. Right from the first time I looked at her, she had noticed me. She had clearly understood the interest I had towards her. But even after seeing me for almost a year, she did not feel like loving me and she also told me that she was not going to fall in love with me even if I walked behind her for another ten years. For the four years after that, I had lived with the certainty that love had ended for me.
The train was nearing Chandigarh and I was also nearing the end of my journey. I could clearly recollect every word of what I had spoken to her before leaving home.
“You and I cannot remain together in the same house. If we still continue to do so, one of us might even kill the other. You can go back to the people who still love you. I have arranged myself a job in a city far away from this place and far away from you. I won’t call you ever again and I want you also to return me the favour. This is surely the end of whatever we had between us.“With that I had closed the door and walked away. Even from outside I could hear her loud sobs.
The train reached Chandigarh. I got out into the platform. I had started the journey with a firm conviction on what direction to take in my life. But now I was at a loss. This was my life and only I could control it. There was only one thing that I could do. I dialled the number which had always occupied the most important spot in my memory.
“I am sorry, for everything. I cannot live without you. I need you throughout my life. Don’t make me alone in this world. I ‘am coming back. Forgive me and forget whatever I had said. I promise that I will never hurt you again and I can keep that promise until my death because I love you even more than myself. I love you.“Tears had started rushing down my eyes. I didn’t care if anyone noticed. I could hear her crying on the other side of the phone. This would be the last time that I was going to make her cry.
“I love you too. Come back fast.”
That was enough.
One phone call was all it took.
Sampark Kranti had taught me to love once again.
In fact, one journey was all it took.
I hope that you will read this part after reading this story. I ‘am Sreehari P.V. I’ am from Kerala in India. As of now I have completed my B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering. This is a short story I wrote when I was 20yrs old. I ‘am publishing it here in the hope that it will be read by many. If you enjoyed reading this story then kindly check out my novel Twenty Four Days available on Amazon and try reading it only if you read and liked the description and sample of the novel available there.
I ‘am so grateful to you for the interest that you showed in my work.
This is a short story. It is the story of a young married couple on the verge of separation. He knew very well before undertaking the long journey in Sambark Kranti express from Kannur in Kerala to Chandigarh in Punjab that it was time for him to let go of his past and erase all memories of his wife from his head. He knew very well that he and his wife were a dead end and there was no way for him to once again fall in love with the only girl he loved in his life. This journey across India was to be for him a means to forget the past and embrace the future. Little did he knew that journey across different states and different cultures was going to change his life.