Metro Diaries - An unheard tale
Mumbai Central – Mandira read as she got down from the taxi that had brought her till here. Yet another journey… she thought as she began to take out her bags and moved ahead to pay to the cab driver.
However tiresome they were, she simply loved the journeys. She was the regional head for a leading investment bank and her profile required her to travel 20 days in a month. And she thoroughly enjoyed that time. Her job role never gave her a minute to sit back and relax for almost 11-12 hours a day while travelling gave her exactly that.
“Being in nothing-ness” that’s what she called them. For she was not at one particular place when she travelling she was travelling somewhere in between where there was nothing. And thanks to the non dependable mobile networks she luckily managed to get a break from her constant ringing phone too. Imagine having all the time to yourself – to be spent with a nice book, listening to music, thinking, dreaming or simply just writing… now isn’t that a boon in disguise. No wonder Mandira did not want to give up her job for anything in this world!
She had gotten used to all the chaos and crowd at railway stations by now. The coolies scurrying past with heavy luggage, the vendors screaming to sell their wares, the loud train whistles, the boring nasal-twanged announcements that echoed throughout the station, wailing kids, the mish-mash of various dialects with people coming to say a hello or a bye… all these noises merged into one to conjure mayhem.
She waded through these noises to reach her compartment and at the end to her seat. Stuffing her bag in the luggage chamber she made herself comfortable on her window seat with her book and iPod for company. Just the way she liked it, how can you not have window to admire all the beauty that you passed by in every journey that you make!
As she was busy rummaging through her handbag for her headphones an old lady slowly made her way towards the seat opposite to her. Neatly dressed in a simple cotton saree she had a grace on her face which was difficult to be missed. Mandira smiled at her once and got back to her reading. After settling down with her luggage that old lady sat staring out of the window. The curious writer in her, made Mandira keep her book aside, plug her players and continue looking at that old lady.
Carefully parted grey hair, with vermillion smeared liberally in between, neatly pleated plain cotton saree, big round bindi, simple gold studs with a long black beaded mangalsutra adoring her frail neck. She looked to be in her 50s. Her eyes had a very haunting look in them. They looked tired and had wrinkles around them yet their sheen was not lost. Was it a witness to a life well lead? Mandira wondered. She could see love, joy, sweet memories along with a longing in them. The love seemed to derive from her children and now grandchildren, the joy brought by the smoothness in the otherwise bumpy road of life and the sweet memories were the ones she had managed to save from all the storms of life.
Her hands seemed to be worn out. Must be doing all the household chores herself yet they seem to be still full of love. Their softness intact in those crevices making you imagine its caress on a hurting heart. Looking further she saw the red and green bangles on her thin wrist, a symbol of married woman in India but here it reflected more of a habit she had grown used to now. She saw a huge scar on her elbow, one that you get when you have a bad fall. Mandira tried to imagine this lady trying to ride a bicycle when she was young and falling down.
She further thought, she would also have had her own dreams at some point, list of things she wanted to do… what must have happened to it. Her heart pondered if this lady had ever known love in its truest form and experienced heartbreak. Just when her questioning mind increased its pace that lady turned to look at her and smiled a smile which said it all.
It seemed to say “Yes, I have done it all. Loved, dreamt, had my heart broken, fallen down only to get up again, faced storms and then learnt to dance in them, broken hearts, cheated, collected broken remnants and started all over again, given birth, taken birth each time with them, cared, played, smiled, cried, succeeded, got wealthy, lost money, lost loved ones and friends too, met people, made best friends, created families, built homes, moved countries, travelled across the globe and through all this lived my life to the fullest. So much so that if tomorrow I were to meet my maker I would proudly claim “I used all that you gave me in the best possible manner that I could.”
P.S: This was a random thought that came to my mind in one of my travelling journeys. This is exactly how I write stories. I look at people and search for stories, more often than not I am successful in getting one.