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The journey back

Travel during a pandemic, Indian Railways 3rd AC, an empty compartment – the train leisurely late by 15 minutes.

The TC stands with a chart. I say my name. He asks for no identification and moves on.

I place my travel bag lined with alcohol and cashew to the brim under the seat. If my bag had been checked then, not a TC in the world would believe I’m a teetotaller.

Chah, chai chai — our seat no/ is what?
– I’ll be back soon.

Couples, chai and conversations cross by as I turn on laptop, click a pic, connect wifi, wear comfy slippers while I rue about the missed chance to order tea, wonder if she still think of me, question should I give up work.

Then the train moved ahead.

I’ll be back soon — train is empty, really.

I ignored the Marwari’s conversation snippets, like I ignored the palm trees, the glorious greens, the stops in between. I read, typed, surfed and worked even as it rained new designs on the glass pane. It never got too cold nor did it get too warm.

When I had taken this same train to Goa, my trip was to last 20 days. Three months later, I was returning, a changed man, a swagger curled on my lips , my waist had expanded some, more so within me were a hundred ideas waiting to burst through.

The summer had given way to the rains.

Sahab, dinner?
Veg or non-veg?
Your options are…

The train zoomed ahead. I ordered dinner as a storm brewed Soni Abraham

Story credits – Soni A A.


Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

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