SHORT STORY – EMOTIONAL APHASIA
Most of the incidents happening in our life seemed to occur when we are on the go and don’t anticipate them. Incidents which could leave us emotionally aphasic for a long time. The memories just don’t fade away but just sit still in one small corner of our heart or mind till it’s kindled by warmth of words or an affectionate glance.
While on a trip to Jaipur and waiting for the train at the railway station Rahul pulled out his mobile from the jeans pocket to reconfirm the seat and the coach number to avoid one mistake that he had committed earlier which was sitting at the right seat in the wrong coach. He was trying to avoid the background chatter of elders talking excitedly of meeting their grand kids for the first time, youngsters pulling prank on each other with their laughter echoing intermittently even shadowing the screeching sounds of the trains on other platforms and children engaged in a world of their own, some playing, some asking questions on why train has not arrived, when it will come and why does it stop at a station, haggled parents trying to answer them while trying to keep hold of their overflowing luggage while a porter tries to negotiate some work for himself. Solitary amidst this sea of frantic activities, Rahul suddenly got alert as he heard the loud siren of the approaching train blaring from a distance. Everyone took their combative positions as if about to enter the battle zone and take the seat which is already reserved for them. The train came to a screeching halt and almost everyone got into, me first mode of getting inside the train. Rahul stood aside letting the inquisitive seekers go first as there was no point in jostling to get inside when the train’s halt is for more than 20 minutes. As the crowd subsided he went in and after carefully looking at the seat numbers, took his after putting his luggage. This train takes almost 5 hours to reach Jaipur from Delhi and the commute is pretty smooth with hardly 4-5 stations in between. Rahul was however thinking of sleeping off the journey to avoid awkward conversations with strangers.
The seat he took was the window seat, however he sat on the aisle as there was no-one to claim it at that time. As clock stuck 5:00 P.M, and the loud siren started to blare again, he saw someone running inside with a laptop bag in hands and frantically searching for the right seat number. Rahul could hear the sigh of relief as the passenger approached the place he was sitting at and gave him an accusatory and a no, not again kid of a look. Rahul looked up and immediately took up his window seat to let the new passenger sit in on the aisle seat sensing the body language of the newly arrived person. She was hardly 5’1 and was finding it difficult to put his bag on the overhead bin, when Rahul offered to help, which she willingly accepted. “Hey, why don’t you sit on the aisle seat, if you like it, I anyways prefer the sit by the windows. That ways I can watch people and read all sort of awesome ads while sitting and also not forgetting where I have reached. So, if you are comfortable, we can swap our seats, I am Janaki, she muttered, extending her hand towards Rahul while telling him, her name”. Ohh, I am Rahul, sure you can sit here and let me move on to the aisle seat said he while shaking her hands gently. Thank you so much’. There was an awkward silence for a few minutes broken by the catering staff who handed over the water bottles. As Rahul was sitting on the aisle, thinking both of them are together, he gave both bottles to him. Here’s your bottle of water, said Rahul, offering it to Janaki. Ohh, thank you, I avoid drinking this railway water, you know? I don’t know, quipped Rahul, with pursed lips as he was trying to be witty. How would I know, we are meeting for the first time. Yeah, whatever, I am just trying to start a conversation.
Rahul – So what do you do?
Janaki – I really don’t know I don’t do anything per se. But yes, I love to travel and dream. Sometime, I also do freelancing recruiting work for some job agencies.
Rahul – ohh, thats great, so you are the one I can come to for a job, if I lose one….
Janaki – Ohh, don’t come to me, it’s something I do because I need to do something and this is not what I enjoy doing, it’s just to stay relevant amongst the so called real people of this world. I need to be able to tell what I do when someone LIKE you ask such a question. I need to give a socially relevant and acceptable answer to it.
Rahul – Wow, that’s quite interesting.
Janaki – Really, it is interesting??? So what do you do?
Rahul – I am an auditor with a manufacturing company and going for helping my boss in auditing the Jaipur plant.
Janaki – Ok, so that’s a nice job you are into.
Rahul – If I have to use your way of describing work, I would say, that’s what I do for a living, but what I enjoy doing is totally different.
Janaki – Ohh, so what is that???
The conversation got interrupted by the server who was also probably in a job he didn’t like but doing with utmost alacrity. Please open the tray, he requested while handing over the two snacks tray to Rahul. Can I have coffee, he asked him, to which the server reached onto his apron pocket and smilingly gave away a sachet of coffee powder.
Rahul – You don’t drink railways water, so I am assuming you won’t be eating this as well.
Janaki – Ohh, yes, I don’t except for the samosa. Can’t resist it especially on a train. I crave wafers and samosas, the moment I am inside the train. See, I already got 3 packets of wafers for this journey said Janaki grinningly. Do you want to have, asked Janaki offering one of the packets to Rahul.
Rahul – No no no….its ok, I don’t like wafers or samosas. So I normally drink coffee and have the sandwich.
Janaki – How can someone have a sandwich, its gross, (commented Janaki)
Rahul – Better than a samosa still…
Janaki – Better only in how it looks, a samosa will beat a sandwich hands down any day, I bet.
Rahul – Really, how can you say so, do you know how many calories are you gulping down with that greasy samosa making its way down your throat and then going on to block your arteries and leave you with the possibility of a stroke. (smilingly)
Janaki – Only fake people count their calories and I am not fake, do you count calories in your food while you eat?
Rahul – Of course, I don’t, but I am conscious of what I am eating and avoid things which are not good for health.
Janaki – Food not good for health…hmmm a euphemism for saying I like something but I am afraid of following my instincts. We humans are wired to eat a samosa. That’s the way we have evolved, don’t you know??…..I need to be real and real (actually fake) people avoid greasy food like SAMOSA.
The sarcasm and mocking was evident in her tone and language.
Rahul – Ohh Come on, I am no expert, or following this fad of avoiding Indian greasy food. I just don’t like samosa. Are you part of the samosa bachao brigade?
Janaki – Hey, you know what, it’s a great idea, why don’t we start such an organization, Samosa Bachao Brigade, we can call it SBB and promote Samosa eating festivals and encourage people to let everyone know that they like samosa.
Rahul – Ohh, I won’t claim patent to this idea, you can start this movement and use this name.
Janaki – We can create FB groups and get petitions signed by samosa loving people for it to be made our national snack and to be made a compulsory food at all places and all menus of each and every eating place, small or big.
Rahul – Yes, and we can also share the recipes online, run contests to create awareness in schools and colleges and instead of it being a staple in all government canteens, make it mandatory for every eating house to keep it.
Janaki – I can sense your marketing skills here, huh….
Rahul – May be, but one thing is for sure, I am going to eat this samosa today….hahahah…
Janaki – Ohhh…Thats great, at least I have been able to have one ghar wapasi for a samosa lover, hope you won’t change your culinary preference again!!!
Rahul – Jab tak rahega desh me aloo, tab tak rahega menu mein samosa…..
Janaki – What, it’s not even rhyming, you need to make it sticky, use a rhyming phrase, use mnemonics, what happened to your newfound marketing gyaan?
Rahul – ohh, yes, I will do some brainstorming and come out with a stickier line for sure later. You can be the convener of SBB (Samosa bachao Brigade) and with your permission I will be its spokesperson…
Janaki – hahaha, sure ok, I allow you to be its spokesperson.
Just as Rahul and Janaki were about to give final touches to their campaign, the train reached a screeching halt and everyone started moving out. Janaki received a call on her phone and waved at Rahul while getting hugged by her father who had come over to receive her at the station.
Rahul waved too and took a cab to his hotel. He was ruminating on his conversation with Janaki and just could’t get over her effluence and energy. The short encounter which was not even conceived by him took him over emotionally as he rued the fact that he does not have any contact information of hers.
Days and years passed by and Rahul left his job as an auditor to become a photographer. While on his way to Manali, he and his friends stopped at a dhaba for some refreshments. As they ordered for food, Rahul heard his friend order for a samosa. He felt a sudden jolt as he just couldn’t stop staring at the samosas lying on the counter. A quick surge of emotions gripped him as the entire conversation with Janaki flashed before him. As he tried to get hold of his feelings, he heard his friends shouting for him, not knowing where he’s stepping on to, he followed the direction of the voice all the while clinging to the eternal hope of meeting Janaki at least once again!!
The story never ends; we keep making and creating more and more stories in our life. Sometime we crave for an ending and at times we hope it carries on forever.