We walked into the din, too early for the previous train’s departure. The steady announcement of departure and arrival of trains in three languages- English, Hindi, and Kannada increased the noise. The vendors zipped in and out of compartments with their flasks and trays calling out to the harried and not-so-harried passengers to enjoy their chai and coffee accompanied by sinfully oily Samosas
“Tell me, why did we start this early?” muttered Aditi for the umpteenth time.
I came back to this question, at the tea stall doing what I love doing best, ‘watch people.’
“You know our infamous Bangalore Traffic. The last time, I had to catch a train, I trusted the ETA. The traffic jam due to God-knows-what flummoxed even the GPS. The train left without me.”
Aditi and I had to take the train to our hometown, though she never liked to travel by train and I loved it. She was all the more miffed because she had forgotten to bring her book with her as she handles life best when she has her nose in one.
She went in search of a bookstall but in no time, she was by my side excitedly pointing out to a man who was helping his elderly parents board the train. “I often wondered what it is to have an egg-shaped head….”
“I thought, you found watching people boring?” I had to take that dig.
“Well, it being a non-A/C compartment, it is easier to see them, no? The three of them have hardly exchanged a word among them.” They watched the younger man say something and run towards the exit without a backward glance at his parents. All the while, his mother craned her neck watching him go.
The train started to move. In a blur of motion, Aditi sprinted across and jogged along the train speaking to them and their face transformed from confusion to warm smiles as they bid her an enthusiastic bye.
“What was that all about?” I asked the panting Aditi as she returned.
“Oh, nothing much. I just asked them about Raghav.”
“I never knew you knew a Raghav,” said I, my language skills all going haywire.
“Oh, I don’t know any!” After a pause, “They will have something to talk about on their journey rather than focus on their aloneness, right?”
“But how can you be sure they will have a Raghav in their family circle?”
“Elementary, my dear Watson!” she winked, “Name an Iyengar family without a Srinivasan, Sridhar, or a Raghav in their midst! It would be either the case of Oh, Raghav..”
“And if it turns out to be who?”
“Then it would be the case of such a nice girl to mistake us for someone else!” she grinned as she walked to meet our train.
I picked my jaw off the floor, and dragging my luggage trotted behind her imagining the conversation between the older couple.
Image credit: Photo by Killian Pham on Unsplash
This story was written for the monthly flash fiction prompt by Penmancy.