I was just willing to hit the sack that night. The past few days were pretty hectic and I just wanted to be home asap. I quickly unpacked the paper packet containing the quilt cum bed-sheet and spread it over my berth. For safety reasons, I have always avoided to take the lower berth, but unfortunately’ that day, the waiting ticket converted to a confirmed lower berth, that too in a compartment just adjacent to the coach entrance. I rested my back upon the berth and was just about to fall asleep, when she entered the compartment and sat on the berth opposite to that of mine. “It is berth no. 4 naa?”, was what she inquired and later placed her negligible luggage (for her it might have weighed significant pounds!) besides the window and rested herself.
Writers always have standards well above par to call someone beautiful, and in a glimpse itself, she surpassed it! Her glowing face, gracious gestures, browned hair and elegant built was sufficient to keep me awake for some more time now. I thought to initiate a conversation, but then again the ever depriving image-consciousness came into way. But perhaps something better (later I might oppose this) was in store! Just when it remained 5 minutes for the train to leave from NDLS, half a dozen of classical musicians entered the coach and occupied places among the remaining seats of the compartment. Their initial talks indicated that they were travelling to perform in Gaya. The engine’s whistle blew at 23:40 and the train began to leave the platform. I was overjoyed, firstly because I was heading towards home and secondly because the company I had, rest assured me of a memorable journey now!
The train attained pace and Disha (I always see the reservation charts before occupying my seat!) let her eyelids fall down and was on the verge of retiring for the day, when something oozy took place. Out of nowhere, one on the side upper berth started singing a classical number. Yes, at the stroke of midnight hour, that guy was at his best! Being a linguist, I could easily figure out him to be singing in Maithili. (It’s my mother tongue as well!) Being associated with the finest of artists during my college life, I was in full appreciation for his talent. Imitating his deed, the one on the berth right below to that of his, began singing a Bhojpuri blockbuster. I was confused that why the hell that guy is making someone put a lipstick and resemble a lollypop so late in the night, but then again, my artistic genre compelled me to applaud it. Both of them were at their bests, simply overlooking the fact that they are drifting a lot many to their worst by hammering their sound sleeps, when suddenly, a revolutionary step was taken.
It was Disha, who by now, had enough of it. She began staring at me with red eyes (perhaps the redness was due to anger and not sleep). I prompted, “Madam, it’s not me whose disturbing you.” The beauty, in response uttered, “These people from Bihar, I am telling you, they will simply remain backward, no matter they travel in an AC coach!” Being a Bihar-born and having my forefathers spending their entire lives there, I simply felt like feeding frenzy, but then I controlled my temper for the simple reason of not being in a mood to fight a girl. But the major issue with the people from Bihar is that we are not able to hold ourselves back for long. No, no.. it wasn’t me. It was the fellow passengers in the compartment who took a stand. “Madam do you even know what Bihar is?”, “Madam whom and what are you rating to be backward?, the state that yields most number of IAS officers every year?”, “Go get your theories right, as only then you will get to know that Bihar has given the most number of railway ministers and it is the motherland of Dr. Rajendra Prasad?”, “Do you know that Mahatma Buddh and Aryabhatta hailed from Bihar?”, “Its not we who are backward, its you who is miles away from facts and figures. Bihar is at the core of mind, mineral and miracle!”… The last one was awesome indeed!! She again stared at me, this time with an appeal for sympathy, and murmured, “Looks like I have myself fired a bullet on me… Hope u understand how I’m feeling right now!”, She didn’t knew that the last nail in the coffin was yet to be affixed. I was still left to teach her a lesson! But yes, I won’t have said anything to her. She got her deserved dose and now she deserved sympathy. I just smiled and said, “No issues, u just sleep now… sweet dreams!”
Sun rose and my phone began to ring. The volume was sufficient to break mine as well as the lady’s sleep. It was not the alarm, it was papa’s call to ask where am i and how am i! I replied in Maithili, “Papa bas 5 minute mai station pahunch jeb, akhan anwarganj cross kelkai ye!”, by which I meant that “Papa I will be reaching station in 5 minutes, right now I have crossed Anwarganj.” After hearing my conversation on the phone, she evidently began to wonder something. Meanwhile, I washed my face, wore my shoes, hung my bag and in no time the platform no. 3 of Kanpur Central was noticed from our windows. The train was slowing down when she intrigued me… “Are you also having some connection with Bihar?”, “Hmmm… Yes!”, I replied. She was again taken aback, for the second time in her journey! “Chill lady… I value the beautiful ones wi…” , she stopped me in the middle of my sentence and exclaimed… “So sweet of u!”, I left my compartment and just stepped in back reflexively to complete from where I left.. “wi... with a bit of intellect!”, and I left the coach and scrolled down the platform with hands well cushioned in my pockets.