She looked outside the window as the train pulled away from the station, leaving behind the chaos and almost receding into the rhythmic calm of quiet valleys and sleepy towns.
This was her favorite part. The departures. They were so full of promising journeys, the one that made traveling exciting and eventful. She could never for the life of her understand what people liked about air travel. Putting a dozen people in a match box, without even an iota of fresh air, surviving on premix coffee and fake smiles. Taking off by giving jitters and landing with a thud. Travel was supposed to shake you up but not like that!
She preferred trains, in spite of what everyone told her . She did think they were better for her than flights.
Happy with her conclusion, she turned her attention to her companions. Strange as it may sound, she always got the most diverse mix of them. The whiny old uncle and the young college kid or the super chatty aunty and the really uptight corporate traveler, someone out there mixing and matching train companions did have a strange sense of humour.
Strange enough, the family that was travelling with her seemed too common place. She looked at the 3 adults and a toddler stationed on berths around her. An uncle in his 50s who had ceremoniously finished his dinner and now was hooked to his book on human psychology or some such thing. The daughter in law had laid out the food carefully for the husband who was too busy updating Facebook with the recently clicked photos. While the wife waited, she force fed the toddler, who now looked like he would doze off any second.
She was thinking of an opening line when the lady looked at her and enquired if she was travelling till the last station. She was and so were they. And then came the request that put her in a fix. Could she exchange her lower birth with the upper one that was allocated to the father in law?
All three eyes were peering towards her intently, waiting for her reply and she tried to come up with a properly constructed sentence to follow her very apologetic decline.
She couldn’t. Couldn’t decline nor construct a sentence stating the reason.
The lady looked relieved as she said , “ofcourse , in another 15 minutes if okay with you?”
There was something very endearing about this lady trying to make sure her father in law was comfortable. And to think , the gentleman was perhaps a complete stranger to the lady not more than a few years ago.Now that’s enough food for thought to ponder upon tonight. She finished the food she had gotten along and made her bed on the upper birth.
“Hmm, this shouldn’t be a problem “ she braced herself and somehow managed to climb up swallowing down the shooting pain .
She took out her diary and settled down to write her entry for the day. Climbing up , a feat she had managed the first time in last 5 years & she was thrilled to bits . She had to make a note. But before that she had to take care of the night-time ritual.
As she removed her prosthetic leg and kept it aside to rub her knee , she caught a set of guilt ridden eyes look at her in shock from the lower berth. She shrugged her shoulders and gave that lady a comforting smile.
“The world is full of kind strangers” She started to write. Two different women for very different reasons, were thinking the exact same thing at that exact moment.
Train Journeys are always eventful she thought to herself as she drifted off to sleep.