“Ma’am, here’s your carriage.” The ticket checker says to the lady following him while opening the lock.
Her face was veiled with a black elegant net hat covering most of her face up to her lips. The lips were not painted or colored but still they look lavishly pink with a mole on her cupid bow. She was dressed in a white long frock up to the ankle; gloves, that make the dress complete, though missing from her slender hand. She was walking with her head high—there was a movement in her walking like the water of a river flows through gorges in the mountain.
The ticket checker had been instructed to keep locked the carriage until she comes. He was also instructed to keep an eye around. Though they had been succeeded in keeping the paparazzi and all at bay duping them with a false report that she would not be going to visit the Town, but, still there were few who had the ability to outsmart others thus proving the fool inside them. There were none. He once looked around before opening the door. And becoming sure of no danger at all he unlocked the door and stepped aside.
The carriage was completely separated one. She had called beforehand the station master, and, thus the carriage was attached to this train. The fourteen-compartment train now was fifteen.
“Thank you.” The lady replied.
“As per your instruction we haven’t arranged any butler or extra hand in your service.” The ticket checker informed her while helping the porter behind her to board her luggage inside.
“Thank you for that too. It’s a trouble actually—for all of you. I had requested for nothing like that.” The lady said while picking out tips for the both men.
Both the men denied.
The checker explained on the behalf of the porter, “we cannot. He is our pride of our Town. And to do something for him it is taking a bit of that pride to add to our colorless life a little color of pride.”
The lady startled because this is how he used to write dialogues long ago. She understood the checker is not only a fan but a reader of his books.
“Keep the door closed, Ma’am. And if you need anything, there’s a couple of intercom as I showed you.” The checker says after passing her the keys. Every amenity was present there.
After the porter and the ticket checker leaves, she closed the outside door, and enter the chamber. After locking the door she took a while to adjust her eyes to the interior of the chamber. The light of the late noon was seeping inside through the drawed veils forming a chiaroscuro lighted set—the dark reddish brown color wall seems to be absorbing all the color while the green velvet seats seems to be fighting to reflect back some light; the only bright color in this setting is she—the lady. Her white dress—as she found in reflection of mirror—makes her an apparition. There was ten minutes left before the train started. In hesitant she left the idea of getting change or freshen-up, and also rejects the ideas of drawing up the curtain. She only left her hat to be thrown away on one of the seat.
She sat down on one seat—the chair one beside the window. A tinge of melancholy touched all of a sudden; she felt she needs to cry—not the soft one but the loud screaming one. But, she couldn’t. It seems to her emptiness mocking her on this situation; you can’t cry, bitch…one says, she heard, another contradict it saying lose your tear and prove your love to that beast.
She felt to vomit—just to do it in sake of it. She felt something rising within her like it happens with her when she had an old-dated wine. But, those times she feels light and worry free, but, at this moment she was feeling heavy. She was sweating profusely. The switch to the fan was in front of her but she couldn’t reach it. She got up to pick out a cigarette from her purse. Before she could reach the train jerks to starts its journey, and she fall down on the elongated seat that works as a bed in the longer journey. She starts crying—first softly, then gaining the pick.
She lies there for a while after the bout of breaking down. Then she got up and looking around walked to bathroom. There, in the mirror, she saw the washed away kohl making her eyes that of a boxer after a match—the black eyes. Her hair neatly combed and bun in dishevel. She washed out the makeup—her fair face glow in the bathroom window light leaving her big beady eyes red and the nose a running one. Next, she comes back to the seat and opened her leather portmanteau. A yellow salwar kameez was on the top. She changed from the white long frock to that yellow one. Then she takes out a cigarette from her purse, and after lighting it she sat down on the chair-seat, and draw the curtain up.
The country side is going back and forth. The monsoon hasn’t yet hit the vale hard. The late noon sun shining brightly; a dark cloud can be seen at the far horizon. She lifted the window glass up letting the fresh green air in. A distant memory hits her. She was lying in his arms on the bed-seat where she cried after falling down for so long. They both were naked. This carriage was bought by him after his third novel in a row becomes a worldwide phenomenon.
The window glass goes down again as she threw her incomplete cigarette out of the window. The portmanteau was opened again. Under the four set of clothes—two salwar kameez sets of light pink and white and two sharees of off-white and light blue color—lies the manuscript. She was going to sit down on the bed when there were thuds on the door startling her.
She looked out through the drawn up window curtain. The train had been running in its rapid speed. There was not a chance to someone board the train at this moment; besides this the both the doors were locked—she had locked it herself or haven’t she. She walked towards the door and through the glass she saw him. It was not possible for him to be here right now.
He waved his hand and pointed to the lock to open it. She opens it hesitantly. And he enters the carriage.
“For how long I’ve been knocking…” he said.
“What the hell! How can you be here…” she seeks explanation.
“How could you think you’re returning to the Town alone, leaving me behind…” he asked.
“No…it cannot be…not possible…impossible…am I dreaming…”
“No…dear…you’re not…come on let’s get inside…a station coming…you need to draw the curtain down…” he said in an authoritive tone.
“How the hell you know that…” she was surprised at the last words of him.
“I know a lot…like you have been crying as the train started…” he pushed her aside and walks inside.
She chose to remain silent and followed him. He drops the curtain down and the room was dipped in the dimly light. He sat down on the chair and waved his hand to her towards the bed.
The train stopped. There were knocks and thuds on the doors and windows. They could hear them. In the meanwhile she looked at him in the weak penetrated light. He was clean shaven with his hair back brushed. He was wearing a white shirt, handcuffs folded up under the elbow as usual, tucked in a beige color cargo; the shoe he was wearing she had never seen them. It was of pure leather which was surprisingly glistening in that light. The watch he was wearing was the one she had bought for him from Switzerland—her first gift to him.
The room was silent. Only her breathing could be heard; his couldn’t be heard. Lots of questions were brewing in her mind. She wants to throw them out but his calmness holds her back like it used to in the older days, in their days. The train halted for two or three minutes, and each bit of minute, the seconds, seems to her of an infinite unit not the defined second unit.
“So…what do you think of it…” he asked as the train leaves the station and the platform.
“What…are you talking of…” she asked.
He draws up the curtain on his side and walked towards her, “my story…my manuscript…”
He draws up the curtain on her side. She smelled of different odor of him. It was not usual or regular the one cologne or perfume he used.
“I haven’t read it yet…I received it last day…before the news came…” she said.
He goes back to his seat.
“In your purse there are cigarettes right…I am having one…”
Before she can stop him, he reached for her bag and took out the pack. After lighting one and leave the first dense smoke, he says, “it all happen suddenly…though it was supposed not to happen…Guruji had predicted something for me…and see what happened…he had been proven wrong…though he’ll join me soon…”
She was startled at the commandment.
“What are you saying…” she was surprised, “what is going to happen to him…”
He expressed his silence with his famous sly smile. She knows he would not talk for a while now. She plumped the head pillow and lie down. The sun light was shining brightly and the black clouds were gathering up at the horizon.
“It’ll not rain till you reach the Town…that is six hours from now…” he says softly, “here’re your glass…”
He was still holding her purse, and from there he had picked out her glass. He stooped down and kissed on her forehead before passing the glass. She felt a little shy of this sudden affection, and wants to hold him back. But, he was back at his chair. He smiled at him and waved his hands in gesture of page turning.
She opened the script and start reading.
“The fire was cracking up on the winter freezed logs…”