(Inspired by a real life story- Part fact/Part fiction)
6:23 am. Santa Cruz Station. The train blew its horn. The wheels set into motion. For people in the train, the platform seemed like it was slipping away. For people on the platform, the train was beginning the first of its many journeys.
But for Anushka, a small town girl, trying to make it big in the city, catching the train was a matter of life and death. It wasn’t often that Anushka reported late for work to the Times of India office, where she had landed a job as an intern at the tender age of 22. But, if she missed this train she would land a rare blemish on an impeccable record.
Anushka ran across the platform, huffing and puffing, pushing the young and the old in the crowd, with equal disdain. The train moved fast, but Anushka moved faster. Using all her skills, garnered as a long jump gold medallist during her college days, Anushka jumped off the platform, to barely make it to the edge of the first class compartment. As if on cue, an unfamiliar face came out of nowhere and pulled her in.
“Are you all right, Madam? That was quite a risky thing to do!” Anushka tried to talk but couldn’t. Partly because she was running short of breath, but mostly because she was standing in front of her Mr. McDreamy. He wasn’t too tall, nor did he have the best built, but there was something about him. Something that made him irresistible to look at.
“I’m ok. Thanks for pulling me in,” was all she could muster.
“Hi, I’m Ayaan.”
“Huh? Oh, Anushka”
And the conversation started from there, to end only at the Churchgate station where the both of them alighted.
Ayaan was a photography intern at a magazine, Apocalypse. She hadn’t heard of the magazine, but still she believed him. She had no reason to doubt it. Here was a man who was courteous and chivalrous. He didn’t scan her to see how hot she was, he didn’t give her dirty glances, he just looked into her eyes and conversed. What were the chances of finding such an Indian man on a train randomly? But she had and she wasn’t going to let him go.
“I take the 5:37 Borivali slow train from the Churchgate station in the evening,” she said when it was time for them to part.
“And I usually run to get into the train. I may need some help. Hope you’ll be around to pull me in again.”
Ayaan blushed and nodded and they parted ways.
A month later:
“It’s been a month since we have been talking in the train and this boy hasn’t even asked me for my phone number. Is he for real?” Anushka was procrastinating on a lazy Monday morning while she waited for her train and Ayaan to arrive at the station.
A month had actually passed by and Ayaan and Anushka had become travel companions. Or maybe a little more than that. However, Ayaan was too shy to ask and Anushka was too coy to take the first step. On that day, Anushka had decided to end the waiting game. Ayaan was definitely the kind of boy she would consider dating.
“Ayaan, I think I’d like to be asked out to dinner or a movie or something like that,” Anushka blurted out, excitedly, while the train chugged along on the creaky but ever reliable train tracks. The ever busy and non-interfering crowd trained their gaze onto them, some surprised at her audacity, the others curious to know Ayaan’s reply.
“I’d love to, Anushka,” Ayaan whispered and made plans to skip work for the day and spend it with Anushka. Anushka, as reluctant as she was to skip work for other reasons, didn’t mind doing so for Ayaan.
They spent the day soaking in the rich culture and heritage that Mumbai had to offer, right from the crowded and filthy interiors of the Churchgate station to the eternally beautiful and serene Gateway of India, at the sea shore. Eating at the roadside stalls and walking along the Queens Necklace coastline with a faint drizzle and a brief outpour, every now and then, set the perfect backdrop for their blooming romance. Before they knew it, the sun was drowning into the ocean and the artificial lights along the streets of Mumbai illuminated the ‘City that never sleeps’.
After hours of walking, they stationed themselves on the promenade of the Queen’s Necklace. The clouds had stopped their mischief and as if on cue, the violent waves of the sea had transitioned to gentle movements. There was a sudden silence and all that they could hear was the noise of the cars honking, behind them and the waves hitting the rocks at the sea shore, in front of them. Ayaan reached out to hold her hands. She didn’t resist. And before she knew it, Ayaan was close to her and locked his lips on to hers, while his hands brushed her blowing hair aside. Anushka just closed her eyes and soaked in that moment. This was the commencement of her first relationship.
July 11, 2006
The fast paced train raced to the Churchgate station, as Ayaan and Anushka, just a month into their relationship stared into each others eyes and laughed and talked, oblivious to their surroundings. Every day had been full of surprises.
“Ansuhka, don’t wait for me today. Its your half day at work and I may be running late.” Ayaan told her as they walked through the exit of the station.
It was indeed Anushka’s half day at work. And they usually did this once a week when she did get the time off only to meet at Anushka’s place later in the evening.
“Don’t get upset, sweetheart, I’ll come over to your place as soon as I’m done with work”
Anushka smiled as they parted ways to go to their respective offices. He really knew how to keep her happy.
To be continued…………