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Memories at an Unshared Space

Short Story - By Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Railway stations can sometimes be places where extensive share of memories happen. The memories linger and engulf you with a sense of aura indescribable. Then there are these days, cold and foggy, smashed with traces of memories. Broken relationships, the loss of a job, death of a loved one and the intricacies move from one to another.

Here I was, at one such place at a frigid November early morning- The Bombay central railway station. Waiting for my train to arrive, I walked aimlessly on platform number eight. Early mornings can be terribly lonely.

I didn’t want to be another guy at the brink of youth succumbing to pressures. I articulated a choice, and here I was all by myself, trying to struggle to achieve something. I was going to New Delhi to submit an idea, a progressive one in my opinion.

With having nothing to do at the platform, I opened my diary and started reading out what I’d written six months ago. Or was it six months, twelve days and forty hours? It didn’t bother her anymore, perhaps it did. I don’t know, nor would I ever know. Now, I don’t wish to know!

Dear Sheetal,

I was shocked to receive your letter, and what shocked me was the fact that you are getting married. I’d asked you for six months more and you clearly mentioned you cannot wait. I think that would mean too much of stress and anxiety for me, but I’ll manage. I’ve lost all my energy and inclination in trying to persuade you anymore. Finally, you’ve made the “big decision” you always wanted to.

I don’t know how to react, I’m numb. Several requests of mine couldn’t move you. I’m speechless.

R….(and the pen slips from his hands)

My identity, I thought, my entire purpose of containment has been lost today. Everything has left me and I was alone, marveling at these tests of life. Anyway, now being jolted out of my passivity of a hyper romantic notion of love, it was time to move on. But, instances never somehow let me to. Trust me; I’m not blaming it on them. I saw an old couple in tattered clothes right opposite the stall I was buying some coffee from. The old woman had been awakened by the biting chill and her husband’s painful moan. She took out a torn thin saree out of a dingy bag and put it on him.

I thought about Love, this kind and the others. The various manifestations amuse me, they make me cry, and smile too.

The train arrived at the station and I took my luggage inside my compartment. Thankfully, there were not many passengers today, and this was exactly the solitude I was looking for. Burying myself in the depths of my desertion, I looked outside the window, managed to have some sips of the now warm coffee, unsuccessfully tried catching forty winks but didn’t manage to do so.

At that moment, something that I just didn’t even need as the last of it happened. I heard some voices proceed towards the compartment I was in, and the heavy sound of suitcase being dragged. A woman came into my compartment taking the seat right opposite to me. On second thoughts, she didn’t look the kind to interrupt me or make a huge noise. The train moved past swiftly from one station to another, and this I thought was bliss.

No fake conversations made in the spur of the minute, no artificiality to exhibit. When the train neared a station, the woman almost jerked and had a bad fall. I went closer by instinct and tried talking to her. I noticed that her hand was badly hurt and she was in pain.

I gently helped her come to her seat, and out of concern asked,

“Are you Okay?”

“Huh, Oh, yes. Thank you.”

There was a detached silence grappling her conversation. I could make out something was wrong.
After about an hour or so, she intervened the silence by asking.

“You stay at Delhi?”

“No. Err, I’m just going there with an idea for a company. Let’s see how it works.”

“Ideas.”, she mumbled.

I didn’t know how to react to this quiver in her voice, hence choose to be silent.

After a while she spoke, “I had ideas. So many of them…I thought they’d be sometime recognized, but all in vain. Hope it works out for you thought.”

It was for the first time that I was noticing her so closely. She had a manner, quite unique to herself in the way she went about explaining things.

I told her, in a usual sarcastic mannerism I’d acquired having gone through an unsuccessful love, “Nothing assures you in life. You can count on nothing.”

“Irony,” she smiled.
It was for the first time that I’d seen her smile. And I quite liked seeing the pleasant face.

“No. Sometimes, things don’t work, and they metamorphosis into bad days!”, I exclaimed.

“Oh yes. Tell me, what does your problem revolve around? Let me guess the most common one- Love.”, she said in a flippant mockery.

“Yeah!”, I remarked .

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be little your feelings. I was just expressing what I often see all around myself.”, she said
“And let me guess”, I spoke with stark words, “You are a psychologist, a mind reader, what are you?” I casually asked, now without wanting to know what she does.
“Bingo”, she laughed. “Psychologist yes, mind reader, no.”

Amazed at the truth my irony can sometimes lay bare, I gave her a puzzled look (almost the kinds where you feel you’ve goofed up)

“And you, my dear boy needn’t be worried. I understand your sarcasm, perhaps even the pain behind it.”
“Sarcasm needn’t necessarily have pain tucked away underneath”, I was quick to retort.
“Yeah. Right.”, and she laughed.

The soft, serene face no more impelled me now. I was beginning to grow an animosity towards her. She looked young, hardly twenty four or twenty five. And here she was, giving me these great bytes on life! Huh!

“So, you are from Delhi, is it?”, I interrogated her without being the least interested in the answer.

“No, I’m from a small town at south. It comes close to the border of Kerela,” she informed.

After seeing me give her an inquisitive look, she very seriously told me, “I got married five months back. It was a so called love marriage, you see. So I thought, all would be well, since the foundation is love. It took me two months- just two months to realize what a fool I was...” and she suddenly stopped, realizing that she is confiding in a complete stranger and now feeling awkward.

“Mine’s pathetic too, equally as yours, if not more. Four years after living in with each other, being there and seeing each other through troubled waters, one fine day she just decides to leave me and move on. And that, because she gets a better marriage proposal or whatever. We’re not emotionally compatible or some sham like that!” I dismantled all my feelings in those thirty eight seconds.

“Whats your name”, she asked me.

“I’m Rajiv, what’s yours?”


Realizing that it is of no more worth to keep silent, Vandana told me, “What’s with this word called love? Let’s kick it, throw it out of our lives, let’s bundle it and tuck it away with the sea waves.”
I laughed.

I told her, “So tell me more, about your life”, and I was quick to add, “If you wish to.”

She looked at me and gave me a steadfast gaze. “I shifted to Mumbai five years ago for completing my education, since I thought it’d give me better opportunities. Here, I met Sameer. Someone whom I thought would be forever mine and understand me. The bitter truth, I feel is, there is no word as ‘forever’. It is all in our mind. I’ve learnt life is not meant for idle contemplation. I went against my parents, married the love of my life. I don’t regret it, for this had led to many realizations.”

“Don’t try masking your feelings. You felt bad. Hurt. Accept it”, I reverted.

“Yes, I did. I felt as though a thousand swords would go piercing into my heart and lightning would fall and destroy every human on the face of this earth. But, nothing of this dramatic sort happened,” she said.

And as our train pulled near to the way on Delhi and passed every station, our conversation deepened. I told her about my essentially rebellious eccentricities and she told me about her faith in herself and beliefs.

Soon, dinner time arrived and we were served food. We discovered some similarities; we both were vegetarian and liked the same type of food. Vandana told me about how she is getting to Delhi to teach in a school and complete her Ph.D too. I was astonished as well as appreciative of her passion for psychology and people.

The night passed peacefully as both of us had a good sleep after such an intense conversation. It helps, I thought to myself, to have such a deep conversation and let out your feelings. The sort Aristotle termed “Purgation”.

I’ve had memories of nights where I’ve been tired but sleepless. I’ve been awake in the midst of the night amidst a thousand sparkling stars somewhere lost in the sky. The city doesn’t let it breathe or come to its full shine. And as I stood on the ground of the terrace, looking at the moon shine in its full throttle, I missed a hundred things. And if I’ve to list it, ‘feeling’ is the most important to me, of everything else.

Sometimes, during the deep whispers of the night, you hear voices, from the inside, from the area for more often than not ignores- the soul. The noises and pandemonium of everyday life sometimes do not leave even a second to hear this. The noise of the train coming towards the station, your workplace, peers, family, spouse…everyone takes this up. But, sometime around the midst of a night, when you’re awake, all alone, memories recount themselves into a peculiar design, with an aura of their own.

This night was one such. Where feelings had been shared and one could have a sleep of respite.

As the train hurled to Delhi station next morning, I took Vandana’s number and contact details and she took mine. We promised to keep in touch and walked our ways bidding our goodbyes.

I stepped out of Delhi station and headed towards a cheap place to spend a day- a small lodge. As I walked out all ready to talk to the executive about my idea, I completely took everything out of my mind, and gave it my best shot. Fortunately for me, my idea was appreciated and I was on cloud nine that day.

Life continued and became more stressful. I’d achieved something I wanted to, at a very young age and I did so. Now, the path had been laid and I needed to just follow my instincts and work hard. However, I did not realize the unpredictability of life.