Train to Delhi
What else could go wrong with his life? Almost everything he did was either unacceptable or dejected. Ajay took his backpack and walked away from his friends, friends who once stood by him. In the last six years life has taken a 180 degrees turn. Once swinging high on popularity, Ajay now hears sympathetic whispers. His presence resonates sufferings. A Saturday night outing turned ugly for his family when a speeding SUV hit their car. His mother died on the spot, his sister was badly injured and he lost his leg. His father suffered the least but the emotional loss was beyond repair.
It took Ajay four months to return to his normal life, though the cry for normalcy was snubbed somewhere within. A normal 17 years old can walk without support, he couldn't. Initially he was grateful to his friends who infused hope and spattered cheers on dull evenings. But not now, now, they all have moved on leaving him alone, not literally though. He was welcome but not like old days. He was expected to sit and do what others recommended. He couldn't lead them. He couldn't command them. A leader can never play a subordinate, no matter how humble he is, and the same was true for Ajay.
After many undignified get-togethers, he refused to be the part of his older group. He avoided spending time at home too, somehow being near to them was like reliving the tragedy over and over again. He needed space, a canvas where he could draw his future plans. He wanted to be heard but without sympathy. The anguish was ablaze, he couldn't take it any longer and he thought of running away. One evening, blank as a new slate, he walked to the nearby Subzi Mandi Railway Station and without bothering to buy tickets, boarded the train standing at the platform.
He sat on the first empty seat available, opened the text messages saved in his cellphone. All at once, he found that he couldn't read. His vision was blurred. He was weeping. He wiped his tears, not even a single message deserved to be read. He deleted all, switched off his phone and looked at the platform as the train started pulling away. What to do, where to go, what will happen; none of these questions bothered him. He started looking at the fellow passengers, a man sitting left to him, half sleeves, a cheap tie and a visible effort to look dignified. A middle age lady with dark lipstick, searching for something in her pink handbag. He scanned deeper, glimpse of a young girl in jeans, kurti and big earrings but she couldn't hold his interest for more than a minute. Then, he looked on the other side. A man sitting with his sick son holding a poly bag and an AIIMS card. Ajay looked at the man who was wiping sweat from his forehead. It was Wednesday and the man must have taken off from his work, he thought. He looked tired; mentally, physically and emotionally but he was smiling at his son.
Ajay saw a reflection of his father in this man. His father nursed him, consoled his sister, managed the home, went to work and mourned his wife's death. His father did everything without any expectations, a selfless act which being a son he overlooked. He closed his eyes and that dreadful day flashed in front of him. He felt sorry for himself, how could he betray his father? How will his father survive another loss? He could never repay his father but at least he shouldn't add more sorrows. He realized that being with his father, being a support to him fitted perfectly in his future plans. He disembarked at the next station and asked for the next train to Delhi.
*A short fiction.