Pritam’s eyes opened with a jerk. That sound again! Although he knew the origin, still he contorted his body and looked down from the upper berth. Yes, there she is — the lady in the lower berth is trying to open the rusty-looking container that holds her treasure: Meetha Paan Mixture. It has been opened five times in the past four hours! Pritam observed.
Pritam cherishes train journeys, especially when the price of a 2A ticket is almost at par with an Economy Class air ticket and you are served foods and beverages at regular intervals. This journey started with a lot of promise. He was very happy seeing the beautiful mother-daughter combo in his compartment. But from the onset, the mother looked uninviting and overprotective of her daughter. May be it is his hippyish look that bothered her. That didn’t prevent the daughter to steal glances at him though. He felt better.
The discomfort soon changed to animosity. She complained that they could not fit in the seats because he was not accommodating enough; she kicked his sandals down the lower berth when accidentally she stepped on them; and every time he tried to enjoy the scenery outside the window, she thought he was actually looking towards her daughter and tried to distract him. And then she would open the paan mixture container every now and then, and the loud scratching sounds the lid would emit would send distress signals down every veins of his body. Pritam had had enough. He climbed on his berth and tried to sleep.
What had woken him from his slumber he didn’t know first. But he realized what was burning him was anger, white-hot anger. And precisely this emotion he had been trying to suppress for the last 1 year. When Riya left him for ever, she was petrified. “You are an animal when you are cornered! I never knew a decent man like you can behave like this when angry! Go and see a psychologist.”
He knew she was right. He did not utter a single word. After half an hour, he just lifted four patabahar plant pots from his balcony and threw down from the sixth-floor window of his apartment.
Now Pritam only knew he should hit back somehow; if he can’t inflict any pain on the offender, his head would just explode. He rose up like a maniac. “Sir, your snacks.”
Pritam looked down. The gloomy-eyed IRCTC guy had come with the evening snacks tray. “Are you feeling OK?” he sounded genuinely concerned. He must have seen the streams of sweats on Pritam’s face and neck. Pritam was suddenly calm. “I am fine. Just had a bad dream.” He told.
Pritam started preparing tea. And then suddenly: SLOP! A fly, from God knows where, had landed right into the boiling water. It was in agony. It tried to jump out, but couldn’t. It was momentarily helpless, not in control. Pritam looked on with rapt attention. Again it started fighting, its wet wings flapping. It almost succeeded in reaching out. He couldn’t allow that to happen! With a delicate stroke of the plastic stick Pritam was holding to stir the tea, he put the fly back into the liquid. It didn’t stir anymore.
“A glorious sleep. Or maybe it is under hypnagogic hallucination.” Pritam mused. He opened his diary and scribbled, “Revenge is a dish sometimes better served hot.”