Rush Hour Romance
by Eva Bell
“I must catch the 6.30 p.m. fast train,” I mumbled, as I elbowed my way through the evening rush at Churchgate Station in Mumbai. My kid sister was celebrating her sixteenth birthday, and the little vixen could get dangerously rabid if I didn’t show up in time to emcee her party.
Now here was this slender young thing trying to push herself into the crowded general compartment.
“Why can’t you travel in the ladies compartment?” I cursed, “You’ll be squashed into a jelly by this crowd.”
I gave her butt a push which got her inside the door, while I jumped on to the footboard only to be propelled inside by the rush behind me.
“I wonder where the girl has vanished,” I thought, looking over the heads of other passengers. I couldn’t spot her anywhere.
Two stations down the line, the crowd thinned out. I spotted her standing by a window.
“What a dish!” I thought, as I took in her finely chiseled features and large luminous eyes. Her smile sent my heart a-thudding like an engine gone berserk.
When she alighted at the next station, I wanted to follow her. But before I could act, the mobile in my pocket began to tinkle.
“You promised to be home on time,” my sister grumbled, “It’s nearly 7 p.m. already.”
“I’ll be there on time Sis,” I reassured her.
The girl’s face haunted me for days. She was there in my dreams, beckoning me to her side. I haunted the Churchgate station every evening but with no luck.
“I’ll have to track her down through the internet,” I thought, and uploaded a rough sketch of the lady with a flattering description of her beauty. Mail
piled up in my Inbox, and my phone didn’t stop ringing. But they were all false leads.
A fortnight later an e-mail arrived with an attached photograph. “Are you searching for me?” she asked.
“Now don’t let her slip away again,” my friendly netizens cautioned.
There was too much curiosity about our romance, but I wanted to keep it out of the public eye. I closed down my website and changed my ID. We corresponded in private, and I envisaged a fairy tale ending. But she kept putting off our meeting.
“Six months already, and we still haven’t met,” I grumbled.
“Very well,” she said at last, “Let’s go out for a meal.”
I wondered why she chose that ordinary restaurant near Crawford Market. I would have gladly taken her to Delhi Durbar. Even in the afternoon, the place was dark and gloomy and I had to lean forward to get a close look at her face. She was still in her teens and said she worked as an extra in films. I sat there in a trance enchanted by her looks and mannerisms.
But that high pitched voice! Was she suffering from laryngitis? Or did she have some congenital problem with her vocal cords? Well, I thought, perhaps I’ll get used to it in time.
“When do we meet again?”
“Are you blind or plain stupid?” she asked sadly, “Can’t you see I’m not who you think I am?”
“Oh my God! How stupid can I be! That voice……..the mannerisms…..”
I was so embarrassed that I jumped up to flee.
“No, don’t go,” she said, holding on to my hand,
“I’m sorry you got the wrong impression. But I still do need a friend.” End