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Thread: The Rail track

  1. #1
    Senior Member Platinum Hubber pavalamani pragasam's Avatar
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    The Rail track

    (Another unselected story sent for TOI story contest!)

    It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

    I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend's wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn't know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

    I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.


    She was Leela, the girl whom I had followed crazily for four years in college and whom I had resolutely put into the dark corners of memory for the past four years after leaving college. Leela, the lovely maiden stood out in any crowd like the lofty moon in the night sky amidst a million stars.


    She was a typical Tamilian girl from a small town in Tamil Nadu inheriting the characteristic features and beliefs of her native state. Her wheatish complexion which differentiated her from the majority of the fair-skinned girls of our college was in a way advantageous to her. Her face did not change colour, either to redness or paleness betraying the emotion rushing inside her. The skin humbly took the back seat leaving other facial features to take care of the drama. Be it surprise, shock, anger, mockery or hatred it was her eyes, nostrils, lips and eyebrows that moved most appropriately to convey her inner feelings with unfailing accuracy.


    Yes, Leela's bright, expressive face was her chief attraction. If face is the index of the mind Leela's face was definitely the index of her intelligent, passionate and brave soul. She had very strong likes and dislikes. She tenaciously held on to her beliefs of what is right and wrong. She was an admirable blend of all that is beautiful in the old and new generations.


    She did not, for example, yield to peer competition in any matter-fashion or perspective. She did not like to blindly follow the crowd. Her long and neatly plaited hair made her prominent among the girls who wore their short hair loose. Neither her manner nor her dress was ever sexy or provocative. Her demeanour commanded respect from even the worst roguish boys in the college. Her uncompromising policies and body language kept the excitement-seeking boy friends at bay and they rather preferred to chase and win more susceptible specimens of the female species.


    It was no wonder then that I who am an exact male version of her personality was drawn to her. The attraction was mutual. It was Platonic love that prospered as the years passed. We were biding our time to make our intellectual union a physical one weighing all the mundane considerations of money and family consent. We were confident of settling down in decent jobs and getting the consent of our parents who were very reasonable and understanding.


    Smooth sailing it was till one Sunday morning in the hectic, emotionally tense last semester of our college life when she called me to come and meet her in her hostel reception hall. An elderly man and a young man were with her. She introduced them to me as her father and cousin, the son of her father's sister who lived in the same town where her family lived. She introduced me to them as her close friend hailing from their neighbouring district in Tamil Nadu.


    They were pleased to meet me. We all went to a hotel and had lunch together. When we were seated and the waiter approached us with the menu cards Leela's cousin playfully snatched the menu card from her hand saying, "Don't I know what silly stuff you like to eat and your favourite sweet lassi at the end?" She giggled contentedly.


    I felt something stirring inside me. Throughout the course of the meal both of them went on chatting like childhood chums are wont to do and her father looked on indulgently. The beast that had been dormant within me all these years yawned, stretched and opened its claws.


    She did not seem to be conscious of my grim silence. When the time came for them to part both seemed to have so much more still left to share. He said fondly to her,"You know, my mother and sister never stop talking about the picnic we had during your last visit." And pat came her eager reply,"Oh! How I enjoyed the festival at our family shrine and all the colourful traditions that were followed elaborately!"


    The wild beast inside me now stood up and I could hear it growl with bared teeth. Neither had she elaborated on the good times spent in her town with her kin nor had I showed interest in learning about them in detail.


    Next few days passed in busy schedules of project submissions and preparations for final exams. I had no chance of talking with Leela at leisure. Even in the midst of my busy work I could not escape from the ordeal of listening to the persistent growl of the wicked beast inside me.


    Her cousin seemed to have come suddenly like a bolt from the blue. How confident was I of my dame's love for me! All of a sudden I found myself torn between pangs of diffidence and insecurity. What primal instinct was this? What male dominance and possessiveness over one's woman was I experiencing?


    In this new, strange trauma I found it extremely difficult to concentrate on my studies. I had in hand a lucrative job obtained in the placement interviews conducted by companies visiting our campus. I almost panicked losing it by failing in the final semester's exams. But suppressing all my rational thinking the wild beast reared its head and craved to draw blood.


    I rummaged my suitcase and found in its bottom an old photograph of my mom flanked by my younger sister and my cousin who was the daughter of my mom's brother. On a Sunday evening I called Leela and asked her to meet me in the park where we usually met.


    I must have looked a sight for as soon as she came near me she exclaimed,"Ram! Why do you look so haggard? Are you overstraining yourself for the coming exams?"


    I managed to laugh drily and bluffed,"I am perfectly all right. I wanted to show you something." I pulled out the photograph and stuck it under her nose, "Can you guess who these ladies are?"


    She was clueless and said, "You tell me!"


    "It is my mom and the one on her left is her daughter and the one on her right is her niece whom she wants to be her daughter-in-law," I declared triumphantly.


    Her eyes narrowed and I could sense her body becoming stiff. "Oh! Your mother wants? What about you? Do you want to marry her?" she enquired with sharp shrewdness.


    I shrugged my shoulders with calculated indifference and asked, "Why not?"


    Her eyes narrowed to a slit and she hissed through clenched teeth, "Are you joking?"


    I was immensely pleased. "I am not. Why should I?"


    She continued in the same tone, "Were you not serious then when you described your dreams of your future life with me as your wife?"


    This gratified me inexplicably. "And all the time you had been dreaming about joining hands with your Prince Charming of a cousin!"


    Now she paused. It all seemed to dawn on her. Being the intelligent woman she was she easily saw through my jealous anger. But the revelation seemed to flare up her righteous indignation. She was clearly enraged. She asked with ominous calmness, "What is your final decision, may I know?"


    I was a bit shaken by the threatening seriousness in her voice. But her pompous manner and unshaken firmness challenged my male ego. So I replied flippantly, "Our parents know what is best for us, don't they?"


    Her nonchalant retort was:"We seemed to have independently taken the responsibility of deciding our destiny ourselves!"


    I shot back, "If you decide to change your mind, what prevents me from changing my mind?"


    She spat fire, "You, idiot! What puts such nonsensical ideas into your head?"


    I was not ready to admit the Othello syndrome that had me in its diabolic clutches. My condescending reply was, "Cool! Cool! And mind your words, my young lady!"


    She got up with iron resolution, angrily clapped her hands in a mock farewell gesture and rasped, "Good riddance!" With those words she walked away with her head held high in the air.


    The college farewell party took place in a couple of days. We had behaved like complete strangers during the party as if we had never met each other before.


    Now when I see her in the queue in front of me about to journey in the same plane to the same destination to attend the same function I cannot understand my own feeling, much less the look in her eyes when they met mine.


    I could see from outward signs that she too was still unmarried. The rail track lines run together all the way. But do they meet at any point? Do they, can they, ever touch each other? It is clear disaster if they try to.
    Eager to watch the trends of the world & to nurture in the youth who carry the future world on their shoulders a right sense of values.

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  4. #2
    Senior Member Devoted Hubber Muralidharan S's Avatar
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    Very nice story ! Why does the romance fails in this case ?
    Is it because both the lovers wanted to keep its options open and wanted to maximize their choices? or
    Is is because of exhibitionism ?
    Is it because of egoism or narcissism .. or any of the plethora of other "ism" psychologists says ...... Or a combination of all these ! Is it A tipping point for failure !

    But the end was neat ! Even though heart broken, the boy says " The rail track lines run together all the way. But do they meet at any point? "

    I think it is necessary to leave it at that and move on ! with a positive note!
    Last edited by Muralidharan S; 17th March 2016 at 11:47 AM.

  5. #3
    Senior Member Platinum Hubber pavalamani pragasam's Avatar
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    Thanks,Muralidharan,for your appreciation!
    Eager to watch the trends of the world & to nurture in the youth who carry the future world on their shoulders a right sense of values.

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