It was a long day. And an eventful one. Starting from almost missed my flight, to the plane going into air pocket (clear sky turbulence), to the struggle to find my missing check in baggage, to the flat tires of the auto.
It seemed I had it all. I just wanted to go to my room as soon as possible. SAFELY.. After all those events I was in the Metro.
Somehow managed to grab a seat. Holding the bag-pack on my lap with one hand and the handle of the trolley bag with the other. Looking at the number of stops still to be crossed. I put my head back and closed my eyes.
Trying to push the metro little faster. Suddenly I realised my phone was vibrating. I struggled a little to get that out of my pocket. It read "KIDDO calling..". I was returning from my engagement. And yes that's her..
My Kiddo... Not long back, I didn't know her. But now just a thought of her brought a bright smile on my face.
Her childlike voice took me to a different world. Her adorable way of teasing me made me feel everything around me was so perfect. As if she was always there with me from ages. I took the call "Yes kiddo..
I will reach in an hour.. Then I will call you back." I put the phone back in my pocket. My eyes went to that ring in my right hand. My smile became little wider. I tilted towards the side of my seat. Bolster my head
with the rod at the end of the seat. It was almost a packed coach. There were cacophony all around.
But in those incoherent sounds, I could hear a couple talking to each other. They were standing just in front of me.
The way they had dressed anyone could make it out that they were out for a celebration. The guy must be in his late twenties and the girl
in her early. With the bangles in her hand I concluded that they were a newly married couple. He was talking in bhojpuri with her. Showing her to a construction site that came on the way, he said that's where he works.
She was little short in height. And with the crowd in the compartment it was tough for her to see that.
But she fought to get her head towards the glass window to see. And acknowledge him back with pride in her eyes.
Even I turned my head to see that site. It was a multi story building under construction. He said he
carries bricks and cement from ground to those towers with the help of cranes. Her eyes filled with astonishment.
And I could see, with surprise she said - "ITTA UCHA..." that high..?? Don't you get scared..??
He replied her back that he never gets scared with a smile. I could see that her hand grabbed his and pressed with assurance and then cautiously left it. With his loosely tucked in shirt, a misplaced belt in the unfit jeans, and with a watch that seemed to be just working. I thought he was feeling little out of place. He was turning his head quite frequently. I don't know why.? May be to make sure no body was staring towards them. But for the girl, she was hardly bothered about the rest of the world. As if she has her world just in her hands. Whenever she was able to find any big facade visible from the window. She would ask whats that. And he would answer them cautiously.
She was wearing a saari, yes it was new, because I could see some paper labels were still attached to it. I was recalling an article from THE HINDU on how cheap labours from BIHAR, JHARKHAND and WEST BENGAL are exploited in these construction sites of different cities. I thought it needs real courage to lead a life of such brutal hardship. But when its the matter of survival, nothing is as hard as it seems. And in-front of me, I was witnessing one of them really not bothered about the hardships, not bothered about misery of life. I am sure he must have spent a big part of his earning for this treat. May be it would be just a small treat. But for me, its a way of saying life that "YOU CAN BE HARD ON ME... BUT I WILL PLAY IT WELL..."
I looked at the blinking red light showing the next stoppage. 3 more stops and I was going to arrive at my station. I saw an elderly lady struggling to stand. I asked her
"Aunty aap yahan baith jao..." and offered my seat. With a smile she said "THANK YOU BETA.." and I got off my seat and stood just behind that couple. The metro was about to stop for the next station. And people for this station were arranging themselves to get out of it. I could see the guy told her wife that they need to get off here. And they were also aligning themselves with the door. But I realized that moment the metro stopped, there were two more people between the guy and his wife.
And with the door opening, wave of people rushed out of it. The guy got out of the metro. Then few more. And nervously his wife was getting out. But before that an opposite wave of people started boarding the train. And the lady got struck. My heartbeat started beating fast and my apprehension came to reality. The automatic sliding door got closed. She remained inside. Her husband on the platform. Her palm pressing the glass-door. And her husband shocked standing on the platform.
The Metro started rolling. She started crying... 'Ajjuuuuuu...'
Few fellow passengers said "ARE KOI BAAT NAI HAI... AGLE STATION ME UTAR JANA TUMHARA PATI WOHI AA JAYEGA DOOSRI TRAIN SE.." (No problem, you can get off in next station, where your husband will come with the next train..").
I thought yes. That she can do. I looked at her hands. No, there were no cell phones. Tears rolling out of her eyes and looking through the glass door as far as she can look. As if searching for "Ajju.." The Metro stopped at the next station. She quickly got out of the train.
I was looking at her. She ran towards the end of the platform in the opposite direction. And then she stopped. Looking through the lines with her wistful eyes. Again the sliding door closed and train started moving. I kept looking at her till she got away from my sight.
There were many question in my mind.. I don't know what will happen to her.? Will she able to meet Ajju..? Should I have done something..?
What I could have done..? And the Metro stopped one more time. It was my stoppage. I got out of it. Still thinking of the couple.
Got to the auto stand. Asked who would go to "AMRAPALI ROYAL.."? A guy came and said.. "Sir.. please come to my auto.. I will take you.."
I asked how much will you take? He said Rs 70.. I replied him that its more than the usual rate... He looked at me and with an assuring voice he said -"Ajju kabhi jyada kiraya nai leta..." (Ajju never ask unreasonable fare..). I felt little shocked. The name hit straight to my heart. I boarded the auto. Kept my luggage and took my phone out. Dialled a number and thinking, the way I met this Ajju.. May be till now that lady have got her AJJU... My phone got answered.. "Where are you.. You haven't
reached yet.." I said.. "I will reach in 5 mins.. And one more thing... I LOVE YOU KIDDO...."