THE JOURNEY ( part 1)

It was just about two minutes left for the train to depart when Swati boarded it! The traffic had been terrible ! She had never realized that it would take so long to get to the station. “But thank god I made it” she thought to herself as she worked her way through the 2nd AC compartment looking for her seat. After going through almost half the length of the coach she found it.

In the ensueing confusion of putting her suitcase under the seat while managing to keep her balance on the moving train she did not notice her.  But the moment she settled down she found herself staring straight at her- the same big eyes, curly hair and dusky complexion, quite plump now ( fat?) and therefore not looking so tall.

“Hello Swati!” said Priya with a smile.

Swati did not know what to say. She pushed the window curtain and tried to  look out of the window into the darkness outside.

“Please Swati, ….Say something” said Priya her eyes filling with tears.

Swati looked at her with contempt. “Do I know you?”

“What do you mean? We were room mates for two years in our post graduation. You had helped me through so many difficult subjects coaching me  you have  looked after me when I had fallen ill…and I was with you when your father had that bypass surgery..” said Priya looking at Swati pleadingly.

“So what further support do you need from me? “ asked Swati

“Look Swati I had tried to contact you, speak to you, but you had not answered any of my letters or taken my calls” Priya.

“ What do you want to tell  me after these fifteen years? That you are sorry? “ asked Swati sarcastically looking around for the TTE to see if she  could exchange this seat with another. Ah! There he was .

“No madam. Train s full. Besides, both of you are ladies and both are in lower berths. So what is the problem ?” he said as he checked their tickets.

Swati sighed as she settled down on her seat thinking of  how she was going to handle this disturbed night on the train. The phone rang. Minky was on the line “Amma are you on the train?” she asked. Like all twelve year olds she was worried that her Amma may have missed the train and her thirteenth birthday tomorrow. “Yes Sweetu. Is daddy home?” She needed to talk to Sunil, if nothing but to atleast calm her nerves. “Daddy is in the bathroom. He said to ask you what time your train would arrive tomorrow morning” “Six o’clock. Ok Good night. See you tomorrow”

“ Your daughter? “ asked Priya.

Swati turned towards her and said “Yes”. This woman obviously had kept tabs on her life. Otherwise how did she know that she had a daughter? It was about time she confronted her. She could not keep running away from it…

“ I have a son who is thirteen” said Priya attempting a smile.

“Listen Priya I have no interest in your life. I am very satisfied with mine and by God’s grace doing well despite having shadows like you in my past. I have learnt some bitter lessons but they have helped me. Today I know who to trust and who not to. My humble request to you is to let me get on with my life. We are like two diverging tracks. If you try to get them together all you will get is a derailment- an accident! Now let me sleep. I have had a busy day at work today and I have an equally busy one planned for tomorrow” said Swati settling down on her berth spreading the bedsheet and making her bed. She then picked up her hand bag and made her way to the bathroom.

“ Why are you taking your handbag. You can leave it here. I will look after it” said Priya.  “ No Priya. I have learnt not to trust you with anything. You may find something in my bag that you like and take it with you” said Swati moving towards the bathroom! She could hear Priya sobbing as she left the cubicle.

Inside the bathroom, Swati looked at the mirror.. The laugh lines that usually made her look cheerful  made her look gaunt and haggard now. She took out her toilet kit and found her tooth brush. Just as she opened her tube of toothpaste she was somehow transported back to those days in Bombay.

“Hey come on move yaar…I have to apply this eyeliner properly! How long are you going to take to brush your teeth” said a thin and tall girl to another shorter one who was standing on her toes trying to see her full face in the mirror as she brushed her pearlys  “ My teeth are my asset. I am not going to neglect them. Get lost Priya..! Go somewhere else and find a mirror” “ you idiot Swati…. You have splashed water on me! Why do you stay up so late and study? Every day, you wake up late, miss breakfast and rush to class looking like Albert Einstein” “Darling Priya, I would rather be Albert Einstein with my hair awry than be all groomed like Miss India and get lousy marks” said Swati her mouth filled with foam!

The train jerked and Swati was suddenly pulled out of her thoughts. She washed her mouth and combed her hair and went back to her seat hoping Priya was asleep. No such luck.. she was up with her eyes looking read and swollen.

“ I never knew you could be so cruel” said Priya

“Learnt it from you my dear.” Said Swati her voice dripping with sarcasm.

“  Swati.  Please let me explain….!”said Priya. “ If you have a problem with your conscience then it is yours. Please don’t burden me with it…” said Swati switching off the lights.

She was hoping that some other passengers would occupy the other two seats soon  breaking this terrible privacy!

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bikram
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 12:43:09

    I feel sad for priya. Maybe swati should hear her out.. As such long journey might as well listen to the sob story or a true one. Who knows.

    I have learnt to give people a second chance I did not get many so maybe I should five.

    Life is short why keep grudges.

    Reply

  2. Basil Sylvester Pinto
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 02:59:22

    Yes, we sometimes need to understand people it is not always what they appear to be. This is a story with a deep hidden message,and I am looking forward to part two.
    Do not mind me making a mention here, that with all your effort in writing such a beautiful story, I fail to comprehend why there are so many grammatical errors. Hope this post is edited,

    Reply

  3. KP
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 07:08:29

    Swati seems a rude lady.But she may have her reasons.I will wait for the next part before making judgement.Nicely narrated.

    Reply

  4. Meera
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 10:34:28

    Bikram, KP, Swati has her reasons…! I am still trying to write them down.. Hopefully by the weekend we can know what makes her so rude! 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

    Reply

  5. Tharani
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 15:32:12

    This is nice read..so when is part 2 coming. Swati must be having some reasons right…Hope the story has a happy ending with Swati and priya becoming pals again….
    Waiting for part 2..

    Reply

  6. The British Asian Blog
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 21:09:35

    I’m new to your blog, and I grown to like your stories. I will no doubt catch up with the stories over the weekend, but this one was a good read.

    Reply

  7. Shomoita
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 16:44:26

    Hey! I simply got glued to reading this story. Swati reminded me of myself. I also had encounters with very good friends who broke my trust (though not guy related), and to them I’m very rude, just like Swati. This part was the best. Let me put my comments on Part 2 on the original post.

    Reply

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