Couple of steps up and down the platform and cursory glances at my wrist every now and then, did not do much to get the train to the station. When already running late, I wished the rest of the scheduled events to happen before time and at that moment, it was reaching Rajinder Nagar station, lest hubby runs late for his dental appointment. My impatience was turning into low grunts when …
He: Delhi Metro?!? (Pointing to the logo on my folder)Wow!
He: so you are a qualified engineer?
Me: yes, working as systems engineer.
He: married? I guess
Me: (nod in affirmative)
Me: not yet...(Taking a deep breath)
He: (offered) I work as a freelancer.
Me: Oh! Ok.
He: (Laughs out loud) in everything... that is what is called freelancing. Isn’t it?
Me: (manage a smile) well...
He: consultancy in legal and corporate affairs.
Me: Oh! A lawyer?
He: Yes, from ………
The announcement of the arrival of the metro train cut the conversation preparing us to gear ourselves for pushes and shoves during the peak hour of that evening.
Suddenly they were there all over me; a bunch of hoodlums, thanking the overwhelming crowd in the coupe who, unwillingly and in blissful ignorance seemed to support their ugly motive. As the doors closed for the train to move and pick up speed, it became ‘the more the merrier’ for them; barely a breath away, squeezing my right arm that was huddled in the pocket of my blazer which, was wanting to free desperately to either catch hold of the pepper spray lying in my bag or relieve my throat from the dryness that threatened to choke the vocal chords to silence.
Then he appeared, from nowhere, with a loud “Hey!!” that made them all turn their heads. He made his way, excusing himself for stamping on toes and like a mannequin I was carried by him to be escorted to the seats just near the door, amidst “Haven’t I told you to give me a call when you reach the station. Stupid girl!”
“You know (what to do)...” he blinked and I nodded fervently, gathering myself with the help of the holder that was dangling from above.
He: So where were we? Oh yes!! I am from Kanpur.
Me: sorry (picking up the strand) but your accent defeats your origin (managing to hide my shivering voice)
He: (smiles) call it love for the ‘firangi’ language (enacts the symbols of quotes).
He: Want to make some money before indulging full-time into my love.
He: How about you?
Me: (put a questioning look)
Me: oh well, have been running around....
He: (interrupts) in circles?
He: It is ok. Happens J
Next station is RAJINDER NAGAR....came the announcement followed by recorded instructions to keep a safe distance from the doors.
He was standing behind me, holding on to the bar. The crowd which pushed me in helped me in my exit too.
“How come you did not board the ladies coupe?” hubby enquired.
“The crowd was such that....” I froze at the volley of thoughts that pushed me back, little in time, to assimilate the occurrence of an incident in the metro train, before I finished my sentence.
‘Had it not been for him...!....’ flashed the scene.
I played it in my mind and to hubby in the next three hours that we spent commuting to see the dentist, waiting time at the clinic and way back home. I did not ask his name. Neither did I thank him.
‘Was he handsome? Like me?’ hubby was certainly curious and maybe, jealous too while putting his best efforts in putting me at ease.
I managed a smile in answer. I was happy to be back home…. sweet home.