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An Afternoon at the Delhi Railway Station

It is early afternoon and I am at the Nizamuddin railway station, New Delhi, to receive my mother who is arriving from Hrishikesh. She is returning after a 5-day trip.

The hopes of seeing my mother after such a long time were crushed the moment I arrived.

The train was 4 hours late. Of course, the real trouble would be for her to be stuck on the train for such a long time, but I really miss her.

I just can’t wait to run the length of the platform and hug her.

But the train’s late!

So I have no option but to wait.

As I sit, waiting, many thoughts run on the tracks of my mind. My thoughts were about the thoughts that occur to me.

The useless, unlimited thoughts we all have are so similar to the train… that is late!

So aptly called the train of thoughts. Because they keep on moving on a path endlessly while changing tracks in between.

I let myself get distracted by the crowd instead of dwindling on my useless thoughts. The platform is emptier than usual. The coolies are lazing around, waiting for the late train.

The children belonging to the people around are goofing as they are bound to.

The elders are sitting and chatting, some snoring (yes, people can sleep anywhere) and at the same time watching over their kids by opening their eyes just enough between sleep.

The sellers are preparing their dishes even if no one’s buying. Maybe for the passengers….

Overall it’s a relaxed, warm afternoon. I like afternoons. They are so comforting.

So in a way, I am enjoying myself and waiting restlessly for my mother at the same time.

After several minutes of observing my surroundings, I see a book stall and decide to browse through the books. I did not intend to purchase any but just to pass the time as the railway prices of everything are high.

I go there and the first book I see is the one I’ve been wanting for a long time but didn’t buy for some reason.

“How much for this?” I asked the bookseller. 

“250,” He replied mechanically.

I looked at the back cover. The same price as mentioned there.

“You won’t reduce the price?”

“Okay, give 240” Came the instant reply.

This is reducing? “Don’t want,” I said and started walking away. That’s it! He didn’t even call me back!

I so badly wanted that book.

Never mind that. I am almost near my seat when I see a train pass a different platform. It goes past at full speed.

And just like that, I am transported to some other world. I have a vision of some memory I didn’t know I had. It is beautiful. It lasted only for a moment and then it vanished. It happens to me a lot. Something or the other brings a memory of an afternoon or evening lost and forgotten. And it goes the moment it comes. This makes it all the more precious. 

It is beautiful. I can never describe it but only feel it.

So after a moment, I am back to my surroundings. Everything’s the same as described before. And then… chuk, chuk, dhadak dhadak…

The train has arrived! What!? Where did the time go?!

*Featured image is a painting by Bijay Biswaal.

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