I was checking the indicator, as usual turning impatient; these locals are never on time when he caught my eyes.
I guess he too was returning home like me, how else will he be in his formals. He was trying to loosen that necktie.
He had brown eyes, six feet (maybe, I assumed, he was tall, I love tall men), clean-shaven cheeks, and he wore glasses. I too wear glasses but not when I am traveling, it’s only for reading and writing but those glasses suited him.
I was tired, and to my agony, the western railway announced: “Regret the delay, the local on platform number four is running twenty minutes late”.
This time to my surprise he sat right next to me on that red bench. I heard a creaking sound when he sat. He is not fat at all, slender rather. He must be hitting the gym each morning; I thought when he turned towards me. Did he read my mind? Has he caught me staring at him? I should have been careful; I cannot love a man, but the other way round is fair enough. A man can propose but not a woman. Society norms; sigh!
“Hi, looks like you are jaded”, he smiled
I tried to look serious and said “Yes, these trains, these delays get into your nerves, I want to go home”
“Some coffee with me, even I am tired”, he grinned
How much I love that one-sided grin, no I am in love with him and that is for sure.
Desperately trying not to sound too curious I said “There is an outlet right near Marine Drive, I like that place, let’s go there”
I was unable to control my euphoria when I saw him picking up his backpack, removing that much-hated Necktie when he got up.
I am in love
We were walking down towards that outlet, I knew that is quite far and I am going to be late, that twenty minutes delay will now be twenty hours delay.
The sea breeze was soothing, my hair was brushing my face when he again turned around and said “I like your hair, do you always keep them lose? Don’t you tie them?”
Why did he have to talk about my hair, can’t he say he loved me, but again I am a woman, I cannot say to a man, I love him.
“Yes, I tie them at work, but otherwise I keep them lose, I get a headache, I hate hair clips”, I replied smiling
I was unaware that we had crossed that cafeteria and now we have reached Marine Drive. The music from Jazz by the Bay was loud enough, classic rocks turn me crazy and with him, I felt like Scarlett Johansson.
“So what are your hobbies?” he asked lighting that cig.
“To love you”, I almost said but again I am a woman so I have to be serious. “I love to sing, I love to dance, but I hate to read and I also hate writers” sigh, wish he understood me.
He blew the puff and looked at me straight. Oh my goodness, he looked like George Clooney.
By that time we were sitting on those rocks at the seashore, he said “Then sing a song”
A shameless myself I sang “Look into my eyes, you will see, what you mean to me; Search your heart; Search your soul, and when you find me there; you’ll search no more. Don’t tell me it’s not worth tryin’ for; you can’t tell me it’s not worth dyin’ for, you know it’s true; Everything I do; I do it for you”
Why did I have to sing this song? I really didn’t know. He is getting a wrong signal. I should not be chasing a man. God, please help me, he shouldn’t read my mind.
“Bryan Adams, so you like him, I too like his voice, so we have similar thoughts,” he said with his eyes glued to me.
“No I like you”, I felt like saying but then again I should be careful.
“Yes, I am a crazy fan of Adams and Guns N’Roses”. I replied
“I love to see the moon at night, the stars, my hobbies are reading, I write and then I prefer solitude” he replied playing with pebbles
How silly, I am sitting next to him, instead of showering praises and talking something romantic, this man is saying, moon, stars, and writing. Didn’t I tell him I hate writers, damn it, no point in loving this man.
“You know I write poems, I write articles, I have authored a book but I work as well to supplement my income,” he said and then he narrated a poem for me from Tagore’s Shesher Kobita.
“Are you a Bengali?” I asked somewhat stunned.
“Yes I am”, then he narrated poems of Joy Goswami, the one I loved Megh Balika.
We must have sat for six hours all the while me singing and he narrating poems when I realized it’s almost midnight and the last local has left.
“Where do we go? The train has left” I told him perplexed
“Let’s sit on the rocks tonight, let me hear you, you do have a lovely voice and then we can catch the first local in the morning” that one-sided grin
“But the cops, they won’t allow sitting on the rocks at the dead of night,” I said
He pulled his ID card which said he worked for the Army.
It was four in the morning and we walked back to Churchgate station. I boarded my train and was about to ask his name when he said “I will be leaving for Srinagar tonight, my next posting is at Kashmir, I was in Mumbai just for a week, it was nice meeting you and just know I fell in love with you lady”
Before I could answer, the train had started rolling, I craned my neck to see him, he was watching me, I looked at him till he faded. I didn’t even ask his name, neither did he ask mine.
I don’t know him, he was a complete stranger but I loved him. I know I still love him. As I write this essay I wish he knew I too love to write and I also love to read. I love Shesher Kobita, I love Megh Balika, I love you, you were mine just that night.