This story is set in the time when smartphones were not that a rage and people actually took time to delve in their surroundings and talk to each other.
Running along the platform and almost out of breath, Aditya still managed to catch the 5 pm Churchgate slow local. As soon as he entered the first class compartment, he breathed a sigh of relief.
‘That was a close shot!’ he said to himself.
He took a seat and placed his guitar next to him. He fist bumped his friend Arjun who was seated opposite him. Arjun usually boarded the train from Dadar station and both of them coordinated with each other.
Aditya then started looking for ‘her’ in the adjacent first class ladies compartment. He had been observing her since the last month or so, but couldn’t find the courage to talk to her. Once, she had smiled at him and he was over the moon that day!
“Aditya, bro, how did you fare in that physics test? I got screwed man!” Arjun asked.
But Aditya wasn’t listening.
“Aditya!” Arjun yelled. And everyone looked at them as to why there was a commotion.
“Ouch! Stop slapping my arm, Arjun.”
“Did you even hear what I asked you?” He snapped.
“Screw the physics man. Did you practice any other tune?”
Arjun’s mood instantly lifted. “Yeah. I’m trying something. Let’s see how it goes when we practice today.”
Both of them went every Monday, Wednesday and Fridays to learn guitar. Apart from juggling academics and preparing for the 12th boards, this was a hobby that they didn’t want to give up on. Aditya also loved singing. He could play the guitar and sing beautifully. He dreamt of forming his own band someday.
“Dude, we really need some extra classes for physics. It’s so complicated. Boards and entrance tests are looming over us like a tornado! Just five months more man! I think I’m going to stop these music classes from next month.” Arjun declared.
“Yeah, you stop. But I’m going to continue. This is what keeps me going. Or else I would have already gone mad thinking about the impending exams!”
Arjun looked at his friend staring at the girl and smirked. “I know what exactly keeps you going. And it has nothing to do with music.”
Aditya looked at him innocently and said, “What?”
“Don’t stare at her so much! It’s kind of creepy, you know. And you’ll scare her like that.” Arjun explained. “Talk to her man, she’s not going to eat you up!” And he laughed aloud.
“Shut up bro!” Aditya whined.
“It’s Urmi.” Arjun said.
“What Urmi?” Aditya asked.
“The name of that girl whom you stare at every time we travel together.” Arjun replied. “I heard her friend calling her that today.”
They continued their banter and Aditya kept stealing glances at Urmi. She always stood near the door facing him. He found her looking at him too. Their eyes met, she blushed and looked away. He smiled. He liked it when she left her hair open like she had done today. They were short and framed her round face well. She was really cute. Her dupatta was flying out with the movement of the train. He gestured her to tuck it in. She obliged and smiled.
“Come on, we have to get down now. Continue your staring on Wednesday.” Arjun pulled Aditya out of the compartment. Aditya managed to wave a bye to Urmi.
Back home, Aditya was playing a tune on the guitar. After a while he started to sing as well.
As long as you love me
We could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke
As long as you love me
I’ll be your platinum. I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold…
As long as you lovvvee me, love me!
“Whoa there, what’s up Adi?” his sister asked. “What’s with this Bieber song? I’ve seen you have been practicing this a lot, eh?” She wiggled her brows as she said that.
Aditya smiled and said, “Nothing di, really. I like it, that’s why.”
“Oh my God! You are blushing, Adi!” She pulled his cheeks and ruffled his hair.
“Pari di, please, don’t pull my cheeks. It hurts.” Aditya said and walked in front of the mirror.
Pari came to stand beside him and said, “See, you are still handsome. I haven’t caused any permanent damage to your face by pulling your cheeks.” She laughed and then pouted.
“So tell me, who is the lucky girl?” Pari pressed.
Aditya looked all around the room, except at his sister as he said, “There’s no one di.”
“Aww, Adi, I know it when you are lying, alright? So just spill.” She ordered.
“Di, I only know her name. Urmi. That’s it.”
“What? Haven’t you spoken to her before? Does she go to your college? Or tuitions?”
“No di. I see her in the train when I go for my music class. I board from Mahalakshmi and get off at Charni road. She’s always there with a friend of hers. And I don’t know where she boards from or where she gets off. She’s just there. And Arjun gets in from Dadar. He says that she must be boarding before that, may be Bandra. But not sure.”
“Oh my God!” Pari exclaimed. “Don’t you think you should talk to her at least? Does she even know your name?”
“I don’t think so, di. But I really like her. She’s so pretty. She has big expressive eyes which twinkle when she smiles. And when she smiles! Oh my! Di, she looks even more beautiful. What should I do?”
“My romantic fool of a brother, you should talk to her. That’s the only way.” Pari sighed.
Suddenly, Aditya’s eyes brightened and an idea struck.
“Di, how about I play this song for her on my guitar?”
“Wow, Adi, that’s an awesome idea. You should. And sing too.”
“Thanks di, I’ll try.”
Pari ruffled his hair again and began to leave the room. “Adi, by the way I’m also going to Bandra tomorrow. I’ll drop you to your college.”
“No, di, I’ll go by train. That’s fine.”
“Why train? It must be so crowded in the mornings. I’m offering you a lift, so come, don’t act pricey.” Pari huffed.
“Di, relax. I reach faster in train. And no, it’s not crowded. And besides, you know how much I love to travel in trains. It’s like apart from being the city’s lifeline, it’s my lifeline as well.”
“Oh yeah. How can I forget that! You are that little boy who loves to travel in trains. I still remember the excitement on your face when we used to travel as kids!” Pari laughed. “Okay. So you won’t be changing your mind about tomorrow then?”
“Yes. And one more thing, di. Please don’t tell mom and dad about Urmi. Please?”
“No worries, bro.” And she gave him the scout’s honor.
Aditya practiced the song and perfected it. He was determined to play it for the girl whom he liked so much.
For the next music class, Arjun ditched him at the last minute. He was on his own. He boarded his usual train and sat down facing Urmi and her friend. With his heart hammering in his chest, he removed the guitar from his case and started playing a random tune. He had 8 minutes before his station arrived. He looked at her. She smiled. He smiled too. She twisted a few tendrils of hair behind her ear. She smiled again. And gestured him to continue playing.
With renewed confidence, he sang the song. He got a standing ovation from his fellow passengers. He blushed and got off at his destination. Urmi waved at him. He waved back. And off he went; jumping, skipping and whistling to his class.
This continued for a few days. He practiced a new song and sang a part of it every week. They never spoke in words. Only gestures. He was in good spirits always. His physics score also improved. He realized that he was in love with the girl. And he had to tell her soon.
He had to miss a few of his music classes as he had exams. But he promised himself that he would tell Urmi about his feelings the next time he saw her.
After two weeks, he caught his usual train. He was excited and nervous too. How would she react? Would she be happy too? Does she even like him back? All these thoughts swam in his head. Finally, he decided that he was going to tell her how he felt, no matter what.
He sat on his usual seat and was greeted by his known co passengers. He looked ahead. There was no Urmi. He was disappointed. ‘May be she missed this train.’ He thought. It had happened before too.
He tried again a day later. But no Urmi. He tried a train prior to and later than his usual time. Still no sign of Urmi.
A month passed in vain. No Urmi. It seemed that she had vanished!
But he continued practicing and learning new songs. One evening, he saw her friend. She was like a ray of hope to him. He did not waste any time and asked her about Urmi. She was at a loss for words. She got down with him on the next station.
She cried. Told him that Urmi was no more. Fell down from the train when she was going to run some errand for her family. Travelling in peak hours. Lost her grip and slipped. Died instantly.
He was depraved. Aghast. Numb. Without another word he left.
He continued his guitar practice. He excelled at it now.
He often sang songs for his co passengers during his brief train journey.
May be its intuition,
For somethings you just don’t question,
Like in your eyes, I see my future in an instant
And there it goes, I think you’re my best friend
I know that it might sound more than a little crazy but I believe
I knew I loved you before I met you
I think I dreamed you into life!
I knew I loved you before I met you
I have been waiting all my life!
Savage Garden gave him company most of the times.
He cleared his boards and his entrance exam with flying colors. He performed small gigs in his college in his spare time.
Aditya was no ordinary teenager.
He was the boy who loved to travel in trains.
He was the boy who found his first love in a train.
And he was the boy who also lost his first love in a train.
Author’s note : This post was first published on Readomania.