Bus ka Intezaar karte hue,
Metro mein khade khade
Rikshaw me baithe hue
Gehre shunya me kya dekhte rehte ho?
Gumm sa chehra liye kya sochte ho?
Kya khoya aur kya paya
ka hisaab nahi laga paaye na iss baar bhi?
Ghar nahi jaa paye na iss baar bhi?”
Hearing these lines my heart sank and I was emotionally crushed. I was lying on the bed watching some YouTube videos and this quote from Zakir Khan made my eyes grew moist. I felt determined to see myself at home. I packed and headed out.
I had booked a train ticket to my hometown and on the day of departure I received a message from the IRCTC that my ticket wasn’t confirmed. I read it again, and again. It was of no use, the message didn’t change. It had been months since I first moved out of my home. This holiday was my recoupment of what I was missing here.
Upon reaching station, I was overwhelmed to see the enormous crowd. There were long stretches of queues which started at ticket counter and nobody had a slightest clue where it was ending. I bought e-ticket as I hadn’t had the courage to stand in that endless queue.
At the platform, I only heard the train arriving. As far as one could see, there were just people. Sudden rush to get onto the train started. It didn’t matter which ticket you had. Everybody just wanted to get onto that train. I was devastated to see such horrific sight. There were no space for one more person but people were still getting on till the train started moving. I couldn’t move as I was struck by the idea of the pain that I would have to go through for two consecutive days if I stepped on to that train. I cried my heart out as I saw my last hope departing from the station.
A sense of regret barged in accompanied with grief of not going back home. I wasn’t brave enough like those who were on the train. Their desire of getting back home out-felt the agony of that sleepless journey. And there I was sobbing about the situation. Lost in those thoughts I heard my phone rang. It was my sister.
“Hey, did you board?”, she asked.
“No”, I shrieked. “I hadn’t had the courage to…”
“I understand. It is festival season, that kinda rush is expected. Don’t worry. There is another train in half an hour. Try that”, she advised.
“There is no train. This was the last”, I rectified.
“Was that Suvidha Express?”, she inquired.
I replied, “No”
“Then there is a train. Now hurry up before that train leave too”, she suggested.
“Okay”, I hanged up. A new and bright light of hope peeped in.
I checked the platform display. There was no train named, Suvidha Express. I went up to every man in the black blazer and white pant on the station asking about the train. After talking to bunch of them, I got to know that the train was real and indeed, it was leaving the station in few minutes.
It seemed like the platform was in the alternate universe. I saw no people pushing themselves into the train bogey, even no people were rushing towards the train. I quickly searched for the general compartment and was again amazed to see numerable people in there. It was lack of information, I guess that not much people were on board and I thanked God for that. It was a special train for festivals only and bookings were allowed 15 days prior to departure. I didn’t know that then. Only thing I had on my mind was, ‘Now I am on the train, I would be home soon’. Not exactly soon but eventually.
The train departed. There were different stories of finding that train. All passengers were sharing their side. I chimed in. From the places we are from and our destinations, we shared them all. The faces became familiar. Every-time I needed to grab some snacks from the station when the train stopped, it is the faces I looked for when I came back and not the seat number. The best part of journey is the experiences you go through. And mine was quite full of, even before starting the journey.
After two sleepless nights, the morning finally came which I longed for. I switched on my phone and saw no ‘R’ roaming around my network. I was in my home state and in few hours I would be in my home. The familiar stations started coming up and I couldn’t hold my excitement. A flood of alluring memories rushed in to my head. The train stopped at my destination. I stepped out.
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