As much as I love train journeys, I must admit that I do not enjoy socializing with a fellow passenger on a train.
No. I’m not that guy.
I’d rather sit down at the window seat, with a book, maybe, or ear-phones.
Or better still, I’d just look out the window and take in the sights and sounds of rural India.
But, chatting up with a fellow passenger? No, that’s not my deal.
So, it was a bit irritating when this young-ish looking boy sat down next to me and forced me into conversation.
I tried to be as rude as possible and scare him away. But, he was one persistent chap.
“So, what is this book you’re reading?”.
“It’s a novel”, I murmured without looking up.
“Is it a happy story or a sad one? Do people die in it?”.
I looked up at his face. He was staring at my face. His eyes had a bluish tinge and a placid nature. His face looked tired and weather worn but his eyes shone brightly.
And the persistent manner, in which he stared till he had his answer made me very uncomfortable.
“Well, there are a few deaths, but in all, it is a happy story”.
In the course of the next two hours, this chap managed to strike up a conversation with me. And, strangely enough, I enjoyed the conversation.
He told me all about himself – how he had to leave his village school after the death of his farmer father.
He told me that he was going to the city to become a helper at his uncle’s barber shop. He’d become an apprentice there and learn the trade. With some experience and money, he hoped to set up his own shop a few years down the line.
I don’t remember having a conversation so long with a fellow passenger on a train before. But I didn’t hate it. At the end of it, I even ended up giving him a couple of hundred rupees out of pity.
Soon, it was my turn to catch some sleep. I was travelling with my father, who was sleeping all the while on the upper bunk. Now it was my turn.
I bade the boy farewell as his stop would come after only an hour and I’d be asleep by then.
I climbed up to the upper bunk and made myself comfortable. Soon, I dozed off. I dreamt of horses and the sea shore. Weird connection! I guess my mind was too tired after all this travelling.
Next morning when I woke up the boy was gone. He had got down around midnight, I suppose.
I climbed down and sat just next to my father.
“Did you sleep well?”.
“Oh yeah! Just about”.
“The poor kid thanked you for the money before getting down. Tough luck! Life’s really hard on some people”, my father said.
“Why? What’s wrong?”, I asked.
“The poor kid barely makes a living shining shoes in the city and now both his parents are dead. Didn’t he tell you his story? I was really moved and handed him three hundred rupees just before he got down”.
“WHAT? Well, he told me a story alright but a VERY DIFFERENT ONE INDEED! We were robbed by a blue-eyed storyteller, Dad!!!”.