The train screeched to standstill and that noise wrapped her ears and nudged her eyes. She,”the laziest” jazzed up seeing her friend moving out of their berth with toothpaste and toothbrush. She leaned and leaped from her top berth and landed heeding the dear passengers moving out of the train. She chased the comb and adjusted her tough hair. She jam-packed her bag and slipped her foot into her sandals. While stuffing her left legs into the buckles she found the compartment empty and dark. All the windows were shuttered and she heard no noise of human. Once the left foot is done with stuffing, other foot explored the sandal and it failed. She bent down to inspect the missing sandal under the seat and ended up in vain. She walked till the next berth and hunted. She recalled leaving them exactly under the seat wondering where it vanished. Thoughts of walking back to college without sandals filled her mind and she turned to call her friend when she sensed a man of mid 40’s standing behind her leaving a tiny gap. She ignored him and walked past him to her berth still searching when she heard a weird clanking. She turned swiftly and was perplexed to see that man unzipped and naked. Her terror-stricken eyes met his terrific eyes and in a jiffy she turned to pace towards the door. Her berth was in the middle and she sprinted.
Her heart beat and her legs were having a race and her heart beat won. It bustled faster than her legs. Her hands shivered, her eyes dissolved in tears, her lips prayed and her mind wanted this moment to end soon.
This journey from her berth to the exit door seems to be longer than her journey from Chennai to Erode. The rhythm of her own breath echoed in the empty compartment. Her terror-stricken eyes glinted when a gleam of light fell on it. She stood near the foot board and turned to look at him. He was not following her and she bounced out of the train leaving a sigh of relief. Her heart still drummed and her head gyrated. Not in any spooky dream she have imagined that she will encounter such a dreadful situation. She was wiping her tears when a hand patted her shoulders. She screamed and turned back and her expression changed the moment she saw her friend. She embraced her friend tighter and felt very nice to have someone she knew for lifetime so close to her. Her heart slowed it’s pace and her eyes scanned and sensed everything normal outside. They both went inside the train to search for her sandal and their bags. She was scared to get inside and stood near the exit while her friend grabbed her bag and found her sandal which was two berth away from where she left. Before dropping out of the train she saw the entire dark compartment and the bright outside world.
Inside the dark nobody hears your screams while in the outside world everyone listens. Inside the dark, people are cruel and mean while in the outside world people act kind and genuine. Inside the dark all crime happens and in the outside world it dissolves. Inside the mask is torn and outside it covers the real.There are doors and windows in between the inside and outside world which always remain shut.
She wondered that railways being the country’s largest transport system where thousands of people wander, there is such safety for women, then where else can a woman bloom? She escaped today.. who will be his prey tomorrow? May be some other “she”.. Only running away is never gonna change anything. Being brave is the only solution. She then jumped out of the train with a spark of braveness, leaving all the doors and windows of the train as well as her brain wide OPEN..