Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here we go...

This is my first post on a blog "ever" and so I decided to put up something I wrote some time back. It was a journey a friend of mine undertook and as she told me about it, in a moment of crazed boredom I decided to write about it.Here goes...

The Waiting List-

Waiting list status –25
Time for departure-10 minutes
Oh shit!!! This and a series of other related thoughts ran through her mind as she stood there at Chennai Central Railway station. The Chennai-Mumbai Express stood there in front of her, hissing every now and then, almost mocking her that she was’nt good enough to board it. Vandana was traveling along with a friend, Ranji, to Pune where they were students at the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication. They were returning after successfully conducting a media seminar in the city of Chennai, which was a part of their curriculum. The event was a huge success and after a well-deserved rest they were at the station to take the train back to Pune.

Vandana looked at Ranji and had an almost half-apologetic, half- amused look on her face which was quite characteristic of her. A fire-breathing feminist bitch is how she best liked to describe herself and in this avatar of hers, Ranji complemented her perfectly. They were given one seat and asked to board the train. The TT’s non-committal attitude made them both a little uneasy. They both realized that at any moment, this seat could be wrenched from them and they would be left to fend for themselves. But they were girls with a lot of spunk and who had their head in the right place. So instead of fighting with their providence, they decided to play ball. The train leisurely pulled out of Chennai Central and then with a final stretch plunged ahead onto its course. Vandana sat there staring out of the window thinking why was she going back to that life of hers in Pune- no mom to oil her hair, no granny to give her Tiger biscuit and hot steaming tea when she woke up after a nap, no screaming brother who would play games all day on the computer. She again thought about how cruel choices can be. People say we always have a choice, but our choices never exist in isolation. We might, as individuals, exist as islands, but our choices are influenced by a multitude of factors. She had the choice to stay back and not go to that grueling life but then she wouldn’t get her degree and so she came to the conclusion that choices in reality are actually a huge farce which fate thrusts upon us. It is almost as if fate knows that we would be impotent in front of its choices and enjoys this plight of ours. She asked herself one last time, why she was doing what she was doing and then with a resigned sigh, she focused on her surroundings.

There was a Gujarathi family sitting with them. They seemed to be constantly eating something or the other and once in a while looked at the two girls and smiled. They also managed to dirty the floor soon enough with all the crumbs from their last gorging orgy. About 3 hours passed when an old lady was brought in and Vandana and Ranji were asked to vacate the seat. This is it, thought Vandana. Fate is now hammering the last nails on our coffins. They were left standing in the aisle with their luggage at their feet and they had to push it to the side every time somebody tried walking by. There were so many things that Vandana hated- the way passer-by men looked at her like she was a juicy bone ready to be pounced on, the way they leered at her and veered perilously close to her while passing by hoping to brush a particular part of her anatomy, the way they stared at her knowing that she knew what they were ogling at. All this made her bitter and so often turned her away from humanity as such.

However, as she stood there seething with a rage against all men, she reflected back on her trip and remembered the small but significant things that some people had done like the watchman who went to hail an auto for her one night when there was a heavy downpour and the support of her team member Ajey during their ups and downs. She unconsciously smiled to herself and suddenly she was jolted out of her reverie by a man who offered his seat to them till nightfall. They breathed a sigh of relief. Vandana immediately climbed up and went to sleep while Ranji was left sitting down because of her limited climbing abilities. Ranji ensconced herself between the Gujarathi family who accepted her in their fold like their own. Once again, Vandana was left bewildered. This was because every time she expected the world around her to be predictable and heartless it would come up with an act of compassion that would blow her entire theory to bits. She did not know what to make out of all this. It was like god played a game in which he knew what you expected and would invariably surprise you with the opposite. Suddenly she realized that if this was true, then she knew that god would give her what she didn’t expect. So if she stopped expecting what she really wanted, she would actually get it. But alas!! She didn’t believe in god.

Thus, with this smug thought she went to sleep happy with the belief that god had been beaten. Night fell and the old lady went away. In came a policeman who could have easily passed as the late forest brigand’s accomplice. He began to shoo away all the wait-listed passengers. Vandana and Ranji sat there in all their dignity trying to look as innocent as they could, wilting inside with the fear of being thrown out of their seats. Surprisingly, the policeman let them stay. He also helped them with their luggage. Vandana relaxed a bit thinking that maybe, just maybe there was hope. It was 10 p.m. The Gujarathi family offered them some space, with the lady asking them to lie down here and saying that she understood. So Vandana and Ranji crouched between the lower and middle birth. The policeman saw from his side-lower seat as to how uncomfortable they were and asked Vandana to sit on the seat opposite to him. Vandana had earlier described all policemen as potential rapists and certain other choice words to Ranji but suddenly she was sorry that she had said those things. She stood up like a chastened child and sat next to him. She admonished herself for having been so judgmental.

However, the problem is that the moment we start trusting, we fall into a pattern of expectation and fate plays its cruel trick on us. Vandana, half-asleep opens her eyes and sees the man falling prey to the demands of his manhood. She decides to ignore and tries going back to sleep. But in the deep recesses of her mind, a sickening thought arises-what if he is looking at me and doing it? She opens her eyes to check and finds that he is not looking in any particular direction but just doing his thing. Slowly his hand edges into his pants and she is peppered with thoughts such as his duty, his uniform, ugh!!! She is not able to take it any more and she jumps up and runs into the loo. The policeman is disturbed.

She came out after 5 minutes and the policeman pretended to be asleep. Ranji asked her what happened and she told her in hushed tones, what had transpired ending with a hysterical laugh. Around 12:30, Vandana is half- sprawled on the Gujarathi lady’s seat when she senses something touch her leg. She wakes up with a start to see the policeman trying to reach for a bottle. She screams “WHAT??” and he replies “VAATER”. She scowls at him and passes the bottle. He drinks the water and she falls asleep. That was the last she sees of the policeman on her trip. At around 6:30, the gujarathi family gets off and Vandana stretches her legs, feeling the cramp in her body because of sleeping uncomfortably all night.

As she lay there, she thought about all that had happened, starting from their seminar, the hurdles, the toil, the watchman, the train, the gujarathi family, the policeman…and suddenly she understood the whole thing. She realized that fate played this whole plot on her expecting to disillusion her from mankind more than ever and add to her feminist theories and so she just smiled. She decided that she would trust, believe, hope and love and then with the glow of victory on her face, she got down at the Pune station.


Blogger adel said...

Aye mate!

Nice to see you blog. That was a pretty long post for a first blog. Nice one though! Good luck and keep bloggin!


1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey nice guy ;-)

Nice li'l blog u've got. n a nice not so li'l name...


7:49 AM  

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