Thripunithura Railway Station at midnight.
“This is actually cruel to send a poor guy to a strange place.. I can’t accept it..”
The voice of Sanoj reached my ear like a barking. From the beginning, he is against my journey to Vadakara; that also in the midnight to an unknown place.
“Why you are telling he is chap?… He need to fight with the challenges in the life…. If he is sitting some corner; he will stay like that only, until the end of life”
Mathew can’t accept Sanoj’s statement. This is the heating arguments going on at this railway station last few hours. Most of the inmates of Company Hostel are here. As all are elder than me; the flow of cosset from these people are little high. Mathew is the leader of this gang. We have to compel to follow his advise because he is elder, a post graduate and after all; was a teacher for few years!
I am waiting to start my trip to attend an interview on tomorrow morning. Truly this is a long trip for me. I will reach only morning 7 or 8 O’clock at the venue. Couple of day’s back only got a letter for this interview. In the beginning; I was reluctant to go for such a long way. But my friends has been screwed me; the reason is – experience from interview and test for the betterment of future. What kind of future? May be a shadow of present only.
The fighting of streetlights against the night is going on. In the corner of darkness some tussles are in progress between the street dogs at opposite track. Why they are ? Here my friends got some genuine reason to argue… but for dogs? May be it is more reasonable than this spat.
Mathew touched my shoulder. “Don’t fear. I know this is your first long trip in train especially at night. Be optimistic, our prayer is with you. You have to come back tomorrow night with some good news.. Okay?”
Sanoj, Madhu, Aneesh, Suresh are murmuring… I grabbed my hand bag toughly to hide the shivering hands from others! Merely lift-up the face towards my friends, yes… Sanoj is smiling.
The announcement of train approaching from the air in three languages. When light with sound swiftly arriving from the blindness, the inmates are silently wishing best of luck. Mathew embraced me…. “Kutta.. all the best”
The friction of track with wheel murmured.
More seats are empty in this general compartment. My eyes are blinking between the darkness and flash of light peeping to compartment. Pupil narrowly fleeting through the address, darkness and then the sleeping old man. To a strange place in midnight!! Hearts starts pumping more blood to vein than before.
I am the predecessor of one Maria who made a charming period to office during her tenure. Her activeness grabbed the attention of others within a short span. Her farewell was a painful to my colleagues and when I replaced her; they considered me as a person who usurped that seat with some treachery. But the fact everybody knows –I will also expelled after one year. Gradually, collogues are accepted the fact and later myself blended with them as well.
From friend’s narration; I made a picture of Maria in mind. A girl who is passing through the corridors of welfare office, time office, stores, administration, finance then canteen etc. In other words, the fragrance silhouette of Maria is still surviving here.
One day I asked my boss about her. Looked in the air few moment then his lips are in motion “She was perfect in works……. Still I remember, last day; she promised to post letters on and off - but it was a futile promise…”
Thinking and making the picture of her is a pointless business… the caution from other side of mind starts ticking. Why I have to fly with illusions on a person I never met and never going to meet??! Finally mind is accepted.
The sound and luminosity of train are stabbing the darkness. This general compartment is silent because all are embraced with sleep. In opposite seat, the snoring from an old man arguing with the frisking of metal wheels and track.
One busy pantry boy flying from one compartment to other and I asked him the scheduled time at Vadakara. “7 O’clock” He whispers. My eyes are vehemently prying to the needles of my watch.
Morning 7 O’clock - Vadakara.
The black letters in yellow background invited me. The potpourri smell from train, track and diesel conceded my nose. How to search THSLCs? “If your tongue is expert, no need to worry” The advice of Mathew given some impetus to the ticking mind as well.
Old film songs are flying in the air from a small hotel. The owner is versatile genius - taking the order, making the tea, cleaning the table then serving also. His customers enjoying the breakfast along with the tune of songs. When that genius searching tender for my currency in his wooden box; I asked my destination to the people gathered outside the shop. One moment; they stopped discussion of news papers stories. Some curiosity filled on their faces because my language style. Finally, I got confused because of their explanation.
Anyway reached the destination at 8 O’clock - two hours earlier than the scheduled time.
The bulged fear about this place vanished now. Planned to walk through the roads, between heaps of dry-coconuts and its aroma filled atmosphere - fresh and rejuvenating matter to my eyes and nose. The sound of vender’s and buyers increased along with the rhythm of vehicles and bicycles. An atmosphere of difference.
Time now 9.30 AM.
I return to my interview place. Few boys and girls are gathered in front of that office. Usual chatting going on between the candidates.
Before my interview; I noticed that a girl who is sitting near to me along with her father because of her charming smile. In front of the office cabin; we are desperately waiting our turn.
“Maria Jacob next….. Maria Jacob….”
The roaring sound of the attendant disturbed by catnap. Maria Jacob? My pupil enlarged. She gone inside and father is with me. He presented a smile and naturally asked about me. Alongwith my reply, I asked him the same questions as well. The reply from that old man has been given some impetus to the resurrection a forgotten picture! They are also first time in this place. Before my interview starts; I requested him “Uncle, will you please wait until my interview finish ?... because both of us are going back to Cochin” He presented a flourished smile.
When Maria came outside after interview, attendant again starts roaring my name.
Interview was finished within 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes I just asked my mind… shall they wait for me?
When I came outside; both father and daughter waiting for me. Onset; I asked her “You are the same Maria who worked in HOCL”
She is totally amazed to hear my words. The curiosity embraced her face with a stubborn looks towards me !
“You…? How you know that??!!” her curiosity spreading from the face. “Of course… I am the same Maria worked there…. But you….?”
There was a solace in my mind. This is the face which my mind pampered from the oral decorations of my colleagues!
“Because …. I am your inherit in Welfare Office” My reply.
“Oh.. God!! Really…. It’s really surprising…” The she started to talk to her father about this.
Time is 2 PM.
We started to Cochin. During the trip, curiosity and surprise continued throughout her talk. Sometimes her eyes were filled - because of some unknown reason.
The suspense in mind going to end with an unexpected meeting. There is lot of matching aspects between my mind’s picture and her talkative face. The fear and loneliness of this trip entirely deserted from mind and body.
Night 9 O’Clock
Our bus reached Ernakulam bus station. Maria and father gifted one more thanks and smile to me and vanished in the darkness. On the way I noticed that; her eyes are glittering again and again!
I can assure myself … these are not really a dream in the darkness.
The buildings are moving fast …. Tripunithura, Hillpalace, Karinachira ……. and Ambalamugal.
Now there is some fresh story in mind to tell my hostel inmates. Really fresh!
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