How Blue Was The Bag....
How Blue Was The Bag....6 mins 474 6 mins 474
I once again alighted the train at the Peterborough railway station in exactly the same conditions. Winter had set in early this year and at the beginning of November, it was already dark and cold at 6 in the evening. For an Indian, the British winter bites. The only difference this time was that I had company on the platform. In fact, it being a Friday evening, there were quite a few students travelling home. And of course, other office goers returning home for the weekend.
It was biting cold and I needed to get into a shelter, so I headed straight to the waiting room. The waiting room was full. Rather overfull. All the benches were seated and there were travelers seated even on the ledges of the room windows. People leaning against walls. And a few walking up and down to check their trains and platforms on the train arrival/departure indicator. The waiting room was bustling with activity.
I just about managed to get a bare section of the wall to lean against. Everybody had at least one bag standing in between their legs or right next to their legs. The sight was colorful and busy. I knew I had to spend about forty minutes there. Well, that did not look hard because there was quite a lot happening in there.
Just then a train announcement buzzed on the public-address system. At a reflex, a group straightened up. Each one of them, zipped their jacket, buttoned the coat, wore their cap, wrapped the muffler around the neck and picked their bag from between the legs or from next to the legs. A third of the room was emptied now. And I got a place to sit on a bench. I sat there and plonked my bag between my legs. Now I was more relaxed and could watch people. I opened my Sudoku and generally alternated between my Sudoku and the people around me. In the next few minutes, the room filled up as earlier.
The room was full of people, coats, bags and purses. All in different colors and shades. Right next to the opposite bench, at the left arm end, there was a queer looking blue bag. Looking at the bag, I could not place its owner. Was it a he or was it a she? The bag did not look feminine enough and was too blue to be masculine. The color of the bag was neither the lighter shade of blue for it to be a feminine bag nor a dark shade for it to be a masculine bag. It was a blue-green bag, something like a rainbow color or a peacock blue. It wasn’t too big. It looked like an overnight-er, so could have been student property. It was not a stroller, so definitely belonged to an older period. Oh, could it have been student property then? Or possibly, the owner was in his or her 40s. Or it could have been lent to a younger person by an older being.
Just then, another train was announced and once again a third of the room was emptied. The same parade repeated. A group straightened themselves. Each one of them, zipped their jacket, buttoned the coat, wore their cap, wrapped the muffler around the neck and picked the bag from between the legs or from next to the legs. The blue bag stayed. Standing there, right next to the left arm end of the opposite bench. In fact, the bag leaned or should I say rested on the arm end pillar of the bench. It almost looked like an orphan, clinging on to a parent. It was cozily sitting there for a while and therefore had bent down, was looking groundward. Or was the correct phrase, crumpled down? Its owner did not seem bothered with the bag’s existence and not once did he or she return there to check the belongings. Now the bag became an object of interest for me. It also started looking suspicious. What did it carry? Detonators or drugs or just some mummy made goodies for the kid going back to school? Or soiled clothes for a home wash? Or books and music?
As a result of serial train announcements, a couple more times the parade repeated and the waiting room emptied and filled up in a jiffy. It indeed was a busy day at the station. A lot of people doing an in-out parade, some walking leisurely, some pacing up and down and some briskly towards the destination. And just then my train got announced. I repeated the routine. Stood up, zipped up my coat, wore my headgear, picked my bag from between my legs and glanced at the blue bag, sitting right there next to the opposite bench before walking out of the waiting room door.
I wanted to report the bag to a railwayman, but the train barged almost immediately into the station. It came in quietly but the incoming wind that it blew, made me feel colder. I wrapped my coat tighter around me. The minute it halted on the platform, I got busy looking for my seat. My seat was in coach D, which came right at the end. I had to walk briskly to the coach and finally when I plonked on my seat, remembered that I had not informed about the blue bag to anyone. The train was pretty crowded. Thankfully, I had pre-booked the window seat. For a minute or two, I saw people running to catch the train and then the train almost jump started. It was slowly crossing the waiting room when I got tempted to peep in to look at the blue bag. Lo and behold, the blue bag was missing. It was no more sitting near the bench. Well that also meant, the owner of that bag was possibly on my train with the bag. Now I was a bit scared. I hoped my journey would be safe and uneventful. I opened my book and since the book was indeed engrossing, an hour’s journey went by quite quickly. Thankfully the journey had been quite uneventful, I thought to myself. Leicester station, my destination; was announced by the train and I got up to get ready for departing the train.
I got down from the train and was greeted warmly by my husband, who had come to receive me at the station. He seemed relieved to see me. I was quite perplexed by that expression. As soon as we got talking, the first question he asked was, ‘How was your journey? Hope it was fine’. I said, ‘Why? Yes, it was absolutely fine. Just an hour ago, we spoke from Peterborough. Nothing notable really happened in the last hour’. ‘Oh’ he said, ’Did you not hear this news, there was a bomb blast at the Peterborough railway station on platform no.2’. ‘Oh, is that so? My train came on platform no.4 and until I boarded the train, no such activity was noted. The station was relatively quiet, too. So probably nobody on the train knew about the incident either’. ‘Oh, ok, possibly then, the event could have happened just after your train left the station. Well, there were no casualties and the incident apparently was managed well by the railway authorities. At least, that’s what the news said. Or the bomb could have been just a scare to divert attention’ said my husband. The blue bag flashed in my inward eye! Before, I could give it any more thought and still whilst I and husband were speaking, a gentleman possibly in his mid-40s, passed by us with the blue bag in his hand!