It’s the autumn season. There is a soft chill in the air with a tinge of fresh crisp air of the pre-winter chill. Perfect weather, perfect for travelling and absolutely perfect for some “Me Time”. I am a writer. Each day I struggle with my mundane existence of churning out words in a factory scale. Devoid of emotion and feelings, I write for a meagre literary existence and some remuneration to meet my ends! Enough of my painful existence and the same monotonous routine, I am out of my zone for some fresh air and new thoughts.
So, one fine autumn day, I found myself, travelling from Pune to Goa, in search for some solace. As I ponder on my pending train journey in a sleeper class of Goa Express to Vasco, I never bothered who entered the coach S11 or who were my travel companions. Too busy in my thoughts…and then I heard a soft, sensual voice, “excuse me, are you on 29 side lower”? Startled, I look up and saw a beautiful female! Oh God! She had something in her which still lingers with me.
I affirmed in a meek, feeble attempt like a baby. She smiled and let me know that she is my travel companion of 30 side upper. Wow, that voice! Sweet, rich and textured. As she made herself comfortable, Goa Express embarked on its departure with a soft, mechanical jerk. It’s the wee hours of the morning and the soft early morning sunlight lit the darkened sky in a shade of soft glow of pinkish-red hue.
I sat back and dared to steal a look of my beautiful companion. Who is she? Where is she going? Is she already taken? Slowly and steadily, Goa Express picked up its canter, jostling and shuffling with a mechanical sound. I attempted to raise a conversation with her, once again in a meek, feeble manner. The thought of saying “hi” with an extra zest and confidence, instead, a feeble squeak came out of my mouth. I am stuck. Words stuck in my heart and voice deserted me and my usual demeanour.
She had a face with deep blue eyes like a turquoise lagoon, her lips, pink like evening sunset glow, and her face brimmed with an eclectic mix of intelligence, innocence and inquisitiveness. Wearing a grey turtleneck sweatshirt and a blue slack, she seemed casual, informal and yet very elegant.
Chilled and crisp air fluttered her jet black and silky hair into her rosy cheeks. Her deep blue eyes twinkled with so much life. Her struggle to contain her demeanour against the howling winds seemed quite fascinating. It amused me how hard she struggled with her rubber band to tie her hair. I had a steep urge to take her hair, arrange it neat and tie the band. But dreams and reality are often quite apart, so I had to be content being an amused spectator.
Time for breakfast and food is the best thaw breaker. Thanks to the bland veg cutlet of IRCTC, we started the initial formal conversation. Few cups of tea and we had finally kicked in a lengthy conversation about our respective Goa trip expectations. She, just like me, is running away from her life. But for what? Is it her job? Boyfriend? Marriage?
She seemed to be happy, content with her life and yet there is something about her which felt unnatural as if a lot is buried in her heart and her poor soul is the only witness. Slowly night crawled in and darkness blanked the passing towns and villages. Our conversation, which ranged from politics, economics, society, music and film television, entered into a deeper and more intimate realm. She spoke at length about her life, academics, jobs, boyfriends, siblings, family and her desire to be free from all sorts of obligations and expectations to live free and explore this beautiful world.
She wants to live, breathe and feel without any strings attached. How simple are her approach and desire? As she talked, I entered in a state of trance and wondered, how it would be like to live with no strings attached. I don’t know, when and how she entered my heart, mind and consciousness. We ate dinner in complete silence but her words ringed in my ear like a sweet symphony. I wanted her to talk the whole night and she obliged. She talked and talked, until the wee hours of the morning. Weary with sleep, she finally climbed onto her berth and slept, leaving a lost, enchanted soul to stay awake. I couldn’t afford to sleep, could I? Is this the feeling of love! It feels funny, sentimental, like a flutter in the belly.
Didn’t realise how soon the morning arrived, drawing the compartment in soft, warm glow. The train was at its full speed, rattling through hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, villages and green rolling farms towards its final destination. I knew that it won’t be long before we arrived at Vasco. She would be gone, leaving me with an impression of her, forever in my heart. I wished to hear her voice once more, see her beautiful face for one last time!
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end! Vasco arrived and I saw her for the last time. Standing by the door of the compartment, her eyes shone like a jewel and her face reflects the amber glow of the sun. How majestic she looked, how graceful, how beautiful! I wished the time stopped there at the moment and froze me for an endless time. Oh God! How dearly I wished to hold her in my arms and cherish her for the rest of my life. The thought of her still lingers with me all the time!
I don’t know where is she today, what she does! But I love her consciously and hopefully, someday we will meet again in some corner of the world, trying to live our respective lives with no strings attached.