.......And Why is It So?
by Geetashree Chatterjee
The Metro was jam packed as usual. It was the evening rush hour. Wasn’t it more exciting to get back home after a day’s hard work! The doors slid open. I inched my way in and balanced myself between rows and rows of human bodies. A surge of bodily warmth enveloped me. The interiors were cosy in winter and equally uncomfortable in summer. The doors closed. The tube spurred into action. Smoothly skating on the metallic tracks it steadily gained speed.
It was the same every day. The scene hardly changed at the Metro. The jostling crowd, the drone of voices interlaced with strains of laughter, subdued chatter, a sudden surprised exclamation, sometime a high pitched giggle or a loud, angry retort breaking the monotony. Nothing more and nothing less to make the journey different than the usual. Nonetheless the ordinariness, the anonymity, the daily affirmation that I was one of the countless, nameless labouring million lumbering home after a day’s exhausting toil were an intrinsic part of my comfort zone.
A slight tug at my bag! I turned back. A dark, plain faced girl right behind me quickly looked away. I dismissed her as harmless.
I change the Metro twice – once at Central Secretariat and next at Kashmere Gate. While de-boarding at Kashmere Gate junction, as aroutine practice, I checked my bag.My mobile was not there.
I was very sure that I had kept it in the front pocket of my bag. Oh! That soft pull! That must be it! The girl with the shifty eyes! That was why she must have quickly turned her face away. But the pocket was well zipped. Well, the pickpockets were known for a neat job. Weren’t they? If only I had checked my bag that very moment. I would have known, raised an alarm, cornered her and got back my mobile.
Re-boarding again at the overhead station, I remembered another incident when I had forgotten my mobile in office. A helpful co-passenger had lent me hers to make a call to my peon. Next day I had retrieved it from his custody. Was there a remote chance that today also I had left the mobile on my table? The thought made me uneasy. I was so sure that I had carried it in my bag.
Nevertheless, there was no harm in checking. I scanned the crowd for a friendly face. There were none. Hesitantly I asked the young girl beside me to let me make a call from her mobile. To my relief, she agreed.
Was it panic or over-dependence on machine? I could not remember a single number which could prove useful. It took a few moments to collect myself and dial the Security. Soon, I was shooting instructions to them to go search my room.
On returning home, the first message that I received was of my mobile.
It was safe with the Guard.
But something still bothered me.
A plump girl with poke marks and unsure gaze…
And the shameful burden of an unreasonable distrust of an innocent co-commuter. The end