When did she disappear? Where did she go?
The previous searches had gone well. Thirsty — water. Heat — shade. Lost — found.
Things were going round-round in me head. But first — tickets. A sweltering late-morning in Mathura just got more unbearable.
Ring ring ring.
Then she answers. All i hear is the wind. It roars.
“Where are you?”
Metal against metal. Heavy metal.
“WHERE ARE YOU?”
Wheel on track.
“I’m going home.”
Wait. I had her bag. And her purse dangled off my shoulder.
“ChenNAI? Are you in the Kerala Express?”
“Some train. It was too hot. Too many people. Too stuffy. I could not take it any more. It was right there. This is better.”
“Will you please get off at Agra?”
This Mathura trip was getting extremely interesting.
“Will you please get off at Agra? I know the train stops at Agra. Please?”
I now realise how ridiculous repeating that sounded. Pointless. I had done this before too. I still do, sometimes. Back then, though…
I called a friend, the one who had introduced us. The story tumbled out. He went;
“Dude….. What the fuck, dude?”
“Will you please call her? She may listen to you.”
_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _
“Yeah man, she says she’ll get off at Agra Cantt.”
I was already on me way to Agra by then.
“Thank you dei. Platform 1, under the main indicator?”
No ticket for me either. Agra, here I come.
A g r a .
Oh! Agra. Yay!
“Hello? Ummm, where are you?”
“The Jhelum Express for Delhi?”
Heads still reeling. Light. Giddy. All going round-round. Rotation, revolution, physics suddenly clear. A hypothesis of space and time merging into a unified theory.
Platform 2. Relief. Water. Lots of water. No food though. Not yet.
But mainly, relief.
The Jhelum rolled in mid-afternoon. We tottered in and slumped near the doors on opposite sides, the wind whooshing in. Slugs.
We didn’t talk much.
“Hey, do you have the remaining bhaang laddoos?”
“No, i threw them away on the train to Agra. I was afraid of getting caught.”
We haven’t talked much since we had bhaang laddoos for breakfast, on empty stomachs in Mathura. One. Two. And a half. Each.
I haven’t had a single bhaang laddoo since.