Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Train Story - Part 1 of 2



It was probably her beautiful brown eyes which caught his attention.

Ayush had run out of breath as he had run across the busy local train station and had entered the station at the exact time that the green signal had lit up. The train was just starting when Ayush pulled himself inside the train.

And as Ayush pulled himself inside, he realized that his getting on the train would have been perfect video shot – if this had been a movie. And Ayush really knew that. He was after all a photographer. And a damned good one at that. Which explained the camera at his side. And there was no getting around the fact that he really loved his camera. A lot.

The train was not very full. At this time, it usually was not. The mad rush during the peak office hour was already over and during these mad times, the local trains were actually the saner means of traveling around the city.

That was the precise reason, Ayush had even left his bike at the office and had decided to travel by train.

Catching his breath, Ayush looked around the fairly full local train and carefully put his camera aside as he walked towards the girl in her late twenties.

She was sitting right in the middle of the train and though she had a window seat, she did not look outside the window. She was intending studying the laptop in front of her.

There was something different about her. A slight fragrance of a rose wafted from her. But somehow Ayush got a feeling that the girl was not much of a "rose" kind of girl. From what little Ayush could see from the front of train and her hair being tied in a lazy ponytail and her comfortable purple tops and white leggings, the girl seemed casual. Far too casual. The only thing the scene did not explain, was the smell of the roses.

She was reading from the laptop and Ayush thought he saw an undefinable expression of her face.

She did not even notice him coming as Ayush kept his bag near the seat.

She looked up slightly shaken up as Ayush saw a quick peek at what she was reading.

Memorial to be opened today.

Horlin Road. - Today, a year after the devastating accident of the bus plying between Metten to Kartal, the memorial near the Horlin Railway Station....

The girl looked abruptly at him and Ayush realized that she was reading so intently that she noticed absolutely nothing in her surrounding.

"Is this seat taken?" Ayush asked the girl as he was met by the brightest brown eyes, he had seen for a really long time.

The brown eyes of the girl studied him intently as she shook her head.

Ayush nodded as he again caught his camera and after carefully putting the bag beside him, sat beside her.

Ayush saw her eye at his camera.

"That is a standard 18 megapixel with a CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4+," Ayush said in that extremely nerdy tone which he had cultivated especially for this purpose.

Ayush had figured out that once you pretended to be a nerd, it was the best way to show off. People immediately assumed you were the smartest person in the entire place.

And Ayush hoped that, at least that would really help him impress hot girls.

Unless of course, the girl's reply went something like this. "The camera also comes with a 9-Point AF with 1 centre cross-type AF point." And that too she said all that in a completely dull voice. Though the voice of the girl was melodious.

Ayush was shocked more because that was exactly what the girl said and unfortunately all of that was true. The girl really knew the camera and she definitely knew what she was talking about. Talk of his embarrassing attempts to impress girls. This conversation just iced the cake.

The girl studied his camera and then turned her attention to the shock numbed Ayush who nodded stupidly. "You are of course right," Ayush said praying he did not blush. That was unforgivable.

The girl looked at him with a very small smile on her face. "I guess that is one thing which has never happened before. Even in your imagination." She said turning her attention back to the screen.

Ayush honestly did not know what to say and realized that he had really picked sitting beside the wrong girl.

The girl said nothing as three minutes later, Ayush bravely spoke. "I am sorry." Ayush said with a cute smile, looking slightly sheepish. "I did not mean to..."

"Think nothing of it," The girl said turning her attention back to her screen.

"That article that you are reading was written by my friend," Ayush said thumbing at the screen, after another break of two minutes.

The girl turned her attention to Ayush frowning, "Excuse me?"

"I am a journalist," Ayush said with a smile patting at his camera. "That is where I am going." Ayush said pointing at the girl's screen as he gave another small smile to himself. "It is my first solo photo assignment."

"All the best." the girl said taking a deep breath.

"Where are you going?" Ayush asked immediately before the girl fell silent again.

Ayush did not know it, but he really talked a lot when he was nervous. Like a lot. He was completely incapable of keeping silent when he was nervous. Another unfortunate problem was that Ayush did not know that he was nervous right now.

But that was fairly excusable. No one went to their first assignment in a normal frame of mind.

"I am going to meet my boyfriend." The girl told him.

"Oh," Ayush said struggling not to look unhappy. The good ones were always the ones which were taken. And Ayush realized that he was stupid not to have seen it before. The girl was carrying a small bouquet of red roses. She did not show it obviously, but the smell from the flowers wafted almost all over the train.

The girl looked at him with the same small smile. "You don't have to look like that." She told him. "I am very sure, some girl who does not know the difference between different cameras would definitely like journalists who try to show off."

Ayush sighed. He deserved this. "Not yet met a girl like that." Ayush said dryly.

"You are definitely not going to meet her, starting this way." The girl told him. "A little bit more of subtlety would help." She said.

Ayush was sullen because she said the entire thing without laughing.

"How did your love story start?" Ayush asked. It was a forty-five minute journey. He just could not afford to look like an idiot for all that time. He had to say something slightly smart at least once in that forty five minutes. It was the law of averages.

The girl said nothing.

It was Ayush's turn to study her. "Look I am trying to change the topic and not look like an imbecile. At least for that, you can answer me."

The girl looked out of the window and watched the speeding villages.

"Ice cream." She said after Ayush had almost given up expecting an answer from her.

"What?" Ayush asked confused.

"I spilled my ice cream on him. It was already melting and I was getting into the bus hurriedly. Long story short, I did not eat my ice cream that day. His shirt did."

"A guy fell in love with you, after you let your ice cream melt on him?" Ayush asked blinking. "Then if that happens, I can definitely get some girl to look at me if I try to pretend to be a really smart guy." Ayush said wondering why life was so unfair.

"My love story was helped by the fact that I purchased a new shirt for him." The girl said.

"You purchased a shirt for complete stranger on whose shirt you spilled ice cream?" Ayush asked and now he realized why movies were so bad. Movies were supposed to be based on reality. And if reality was like this, God save all the movies....

And somehow Ayush did not doubt that the girl was telling the truth. The story was stupid enough to actually be true.

The girl shrugged. "I did not know then, but I actually liked him. That was probably why I behaved like that."

"What made you realize that he was a good guy? The stains on his shirt?" Ayush asked sighing.

"The fact that he gave me his ice cream after I spilled mine on his shirt."  

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