The Storyteller.

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!!!”.

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This entry was posted in Stories.

8 comments on “The Storyteller.

  1. Jessica says:

    Oh my! Isn’t that a shame. And yet… If a kid has had to learn to lie so well, and has need of it, then he probably *is* to be pitied. He’s found lying as a means to get by. When I was in Cambodia it was *so hard* not to give the children money for the trinkets they were selling. The tour guides told us not to. But you really wish there was something you could do. And your heart breaks…

    I think it’s a good thing you found pity in your heart and gave the boy a little money.

  2. Beechmount says:

    Very funny Subh–I laughed like hell. You kept the supense to the very end. Smart kid-street-wise and savy in the game of fooling people.

    Cheers
    Grandpa

  3. I am curious to know the detailed version of the story he told you. It must have been a very moving story. Publish a post whenever you get time.

  4. avani says:

    That was unexpected! A similar thing happened to me, when I found a man crying, who seeked help for his family that stood in front of him looking very helpless. I got fooled by his tears and their plight(not totally though as I did have a little doubt) and I gave him money. Now he was asking for more! It was then, that a person close by revealed to me, thats how he earns his bread. It’s such a shame to have people abuse others’ compassion in this way.

  5. Some people enter college campuses with medical prescriptions and ask for money to buy prescriptions. Usually this is to support alcoholism or a drug habit.

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