We had to travel to Davangere, to attend an engagement ceremony. The return journey was to be by train. Father decided that we travel back to Bangalore by train, so that i could save on energy. I had an exam two days later, and i was very specific, that i get good sleep that night.
We had booked tickets in the Jana Shatabdi. he was excited as it was a chair car, and it was long since i had travelled in one. The last time i travelled in a chair car, was to Shimla from i don't where. It remains hazy.
I enjoy train journeys' as i usually find somebody, with whom i chat through the entire length of time. I took the aisle seat, father beside me, and the seat next to the window was occupied by a young man, of about twenty four. And this guy was sleeping. All my hopes flowed down the drain. I took out my Robin Cook, and turned to the page, marked by a book-mark. I was reading Seizure, and flipping through the pages, with disinterest.
A cute young girl was sleeping on the seat across the aisle. I don't know why, but she grabbed my attention. I returned to the book with a sigh, while, tea, coffee, chips, masale-dosa, vada, made their entrance every now and then. As it was about five in the evening, i opened the pack of Parle 'hide and seek' biscuits. Seeing the kid talking with somebody, enticed her with chocolates, in vain. We offered some to our neighbour, who was now awake.
The train sped through green fields, with a blushing sky to provide contrast. Father began small-talk with the guy, and i soon joined him. Later we paused for a while, drinking hot tea, with biscuits accompanying the beverage.
The girl finally, came by me, and asked me, ' akka, ondhu kathe helthira?' I was dumb-struck, and happy at the same time. Me, 'seri, ba illi, ninage yaava kathe beku? ili mathe simha kathe heLlaa?'. The chair in front of me, had a thing, which i could pull out, and use as a table. I made her sit on that, asked her name... and stuff. Vaishnavi reminded me of her request again. I started the age-old 'The Lion and the Rat story'. Later, i wished that i had told a more extravagant one. With dark eyes that seemed to shine with laughter , a smile playing at the corner of her lips', an innocent look on her face.... But nothing really struck my mind that moment!
She listened to me with wonder-struck eyes, with rapt-attention. Stopping me here and there, asking me to repeat a particular scene. There, she sat, opposite me, chewing one end of her frock. The guy slowly, released the frock from her mouth. After having recited the story i stopped, for some time, and asked her name... etc the usual stuff. The girl ran back to her uncle. Father went down memory lane, when i was told a bed-time story. In fact, i pestered Grandma to tell me one, every night.
Father, that guy and me talked about various things, me about college, about our backgrounds, our lifestyle.....
We arrived at Bangalore, wished each other good-luck. Wishing Vaisnavi goodbye, hoping to meet her somewhere, once again, in the near future. I still remember this journey, for it's close to my heart.
Many incidents come and go, making an appearance in oour lives. One moment that i'll cherish my lifetime, is this one. Vaishnavi sitting in front of me, father helping me, while i faltered in my job of story-telling. The guy discussing about our habits, lifestyle, our aims.....
I'm waiting for my niece to grow up. So that, i shall don the robes of a story-teller again. I hope that life provides me with another wonderful oppurtunity.