The train to Bangalore reaches Ernakulam station, 45 minutes late at 9.15 in the night. At this hour, people would like to unfold the berths and plan to sleep.
I get on to the middle berth (it’s AC 3 tier) and finds the three berths on opposite side, vacant. Probably the occupants will board in Trichur which is one and half hour travel, that means at around 10.45 or at Palakad which is 3 hours away, that’s around mid night.
A previous experience came to mind, I was fast asleep when the train reached Palakad and we had some of them rushing in, looking for their seats. One of them switches on the light and shouts, Mami come back, 39 and 40 are here. The shrill voice, gets support from another two, good enough to wake up the whole train. There was a “ come to see off gang” with them, to help to settle their luggage under the seat.
Turn it the other way and push, oh no it won’t go in, try under the side seats, hey the train is moving, go out, okay ,bye and some of them jump out. Luckily, the travelers were in and the visitors were the ones who were back on the platform. You never know, they could have been a mix-up between who is going, who is staying. The ticket checker comes and looks at their ticket and tells them they are in B1, when their seats are in B2.
They pull their luggage out from under the seats to rush to B2, when the TT tells them to relax , they can walk across to the next compartment through the connected vestibule.
That was two or three trips ago, of mine
Here again, I am in situation with three empty berths, staring at me in anticipation, “your co-passengers will be boarding late at night and you have an option to go to sleep for next hour and half, get jolted out of it and struggle to go back to sleep or wait until…”
The train reached Palakad carrying those empty seats, it was around mid night, when a couple with their son, seven or eight years old, checked in quietly, talking in whispers, taking care not to disturb the sleeping passengers. I was impressed by the decency of this family, though I was all keyed up for the expected.
They made the bed over the middle berth for the son , got him to lie down, kissed him and I heard the boy say to them, “there is a tomorrow, see you tomorrow”. Within minutes , I heard the boy snore, though gently. I kept wondering about the boy’s positive affirmation before going to sleep and his snore, before I fell asleep.
Next day morning, I heard the boy say, “ today is the tomorrow we were talking about, yesterday”.
“Yes, all the tomorrows will come”, that was his father.
The boy was reading from his father’s phone for sometime, when he looks up, and tells his mother, ” Amma, Virat Kohli scored 149, Dinesh Karthik, zero, I am sure he will score in the second innings.”
The Amma just smiles at him.
” You think , I can play for India because I think I will”, he continues. ” Yes, of course, you will ” the mother was very encouraging.
“First, I will have to get into the school team. I will practice hard after school, till it is dark”, the boy was looking into the tomorrow and telling his dad.
“Yes, we will join the cricket academy”, his father said
“We will ask the doctor, whether I will be able to play cricket”, the boy said.
The mother got up and walked away, may be to be away from the scene, that’s what I inferred.
I felt uncomfortable, in midst of the positive conversation, though I was not a participant. Is there a story unfolding ? Should I, probe ?. Decided to be quiet, Krpuram, my station to alight was approaching and I walked to the door. By not seeking any confirmation, I can stay positive, that there is nothing serious with the boy and he will fulfill his dreams. Some time, it is better not to know, than know.
I wish, in the future, there is a cricketer playing for India, with whom I traveled in a train, some ten-fifteen years ago.