I ran across the platform, to get to my coach. For a weekday afternoon, the platform was unexpectantly crowded. People were bustling into the train, without regard to the reserved ones and the general. Scenarios ran across my mind where I would find someone sprawled on my berth. The irritable thoughts soon drenched out as I got into an empty coach.
Empty expect for the one guy smoking opposite to my berth. Unruly beard and unkempt hair spread across his dark, wrinkly face. He was obviously illiterate and I was sure that he didn’t realize this was a reservation only compartment, not that he could afford one if he knew. I juggled between asking him to stop smoking or asking anyone of authority to do the needful.
As I decided to sit myself in a corner, where I could watch over my bags, which I has already placed on my berth, and be comfortably far from him. The perfect position to lunge at him if he made a move towards my bags. I could very well move towards some where else with my bags, since the coach was practically empty, it simply felt like handing over my rightfully booked seat.
Slowly coming to terms with him smoking, I sat there reasoning to myself that I was not being an unresponsive citizen. After all if it was one of my friends in his place, I would have ignored it, or maybe even made it a sort of dare.
The train started moving, I so badly wanted to sleep but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to remove my shoes to get on to my rightful upper berth. What if his entire game was to steal shoe pairs and sell it off? But then why doesn’t he take the bag across him? Whose bag were they? Where they his? Is this a Anbe-Sivam scenario? Did I judge him too soon?
In a sort of unwarranted panic, he threw away his cigar and looked out the window as if to search for something. He was mumbling something… And he turned to me.
“Are there no water shops nearby?” he asked me. His native language was obviously not mine, but sure was fluent enough.
“Yeah, there are lots.” I replied.
“But the water-boy didn’t come yet”
Why was he smoking if he was thirsty? It’s counter – productive, right?! And why didn’t he go get the water while train waited in the platform?He is obviously not all there.
“The train will stop at the next stop right?”
“Yeah it will” Duh!
He continued peering out the window. Mumbling prayers and calling to all gods that came to him.
Wow! This dude must be really thirsty. Should I give him my bottle of water, but what about the innumerable combinations of diseases he might be carrying.
“I am here! Don’t worry! I am here!”, a guy my age came to him rushing in. An uber-cool guy, clutching a bottle of water.
“Oh I was so worried, you went to get water but didn’t come back”, a visible smile widening across the old guy’s face.
The new guy calmed the other, telling the story about how he had to wait to get the balance amount back, as he drank the water he went out to buy.
As the “water-boy” and the guy sat there with their stories, I removed my shoes and climbed on to my berth to try sleep off my disgust.