3 little N’s & me
I was to go to New Delhi with a friend of mine to New Delhi for my Toefl exams. On the outset the badluck would have it that we got two berths separated by 6 compartments. Well we are grown men so we took it in our stride, by the by, the journey was to be of just 16 hours (factoring in the fog due to winter onset it finally turned to be 18 hours). Once boarded and settled while I looked around the cabin, a *le wild* ,family with 3 kids aged (6-11 years) and two elderly women– one mother the other supposedly grandmother appears. Initial cackling of the kids deciphering the seat numbers they settled down. I am now a interested but passive yet intent observer. After the train leaving station goodbye to my dad from train door, I returned to my seat, as the train ambled out of Sealdah station ( I was on Sealdah-Delhi Duranto). The three kids were happily settled down– as I caught from the discussions the kids were visiting Delhi for the first time. I was feeling a bit bored so I took out my sugar candies and began eating them. Though it was night time.. and as my luck always has it I had my seat on the emergency window cabin (Specialty of the window of this compartment is … it fogs up very soon as the temperature gradient inside & outside causes some warm air to form condensation on the inner surface of the protective glass), the kids were trying to look out the window over my ‘not so small’ stature. I have been on trains many times & infact I have been to Delhi several times plus I was in the mood for a little studying, so I decided to break my shield of no interaction and asked them, shift here beside the window. I really had no real purpose of shifting, but hearing that this was their first travel I decided why not they have some fun. They were immediately like– “no no bhaiya you sit there…”. I didn’t let them finish, I just got up moved to the aisle side and without further ado they slid to the windows side.That precisely began our friendship. I did offer them my sugar candies… but we weren’t that much friends yet(and kids should never take food offered by strangers… point!)
After sitting with the books for sometime… I felt really bored and dozed off. I had packed in some Tommy Emmanuel’s blues music for the ride, they kept playing in my mp3 while I kept on with the power nap. When I woke up an hour or so later, kids had lost interest with the window, and they were throwing tantrums. That they were not very little kids, their demands were a bit costlier, like they wanted to listen to music in their mom’s cell phone but she wont allow it. One asked another gent in the cabin whether his cell had games that could be played. So I decided to offer one of my earplugs to one of them, she was initially hesitant but she took it. immediately her elder sister said she wants it, so I said… “ok you guys take this player and listen”. Their mom quickly reprimanded them not to disturb me… and they were all like.. “no no we dont need it” and gave it back. But I could understand, they really wanted to hear the songs. After some time however I offered it again, this time one took it and we kept listening. After sometime however two of the elder sisters started asking me “apko koi problem to nehi ho raha hai na?” I said ” no no .. you dont worry, I am just fine!” After a while I had given away my player and now it was all good.
Soon the dinner arrived, the elder of the sisters they were calling her Rumaiysha she sat beside me with her palate of ‘non-veg railways dinner’ … I generally take veg whenever I travel. The sisters started sharing their stuff amongst eachother, that did remind me of my brother at home. This is a strange thing about having siblings, once you see some other siblings sharing with care and affection, you remember yours immediately. I kept on being asked… whether I am alright, or being bothered by all three “Rumaiysha”, “Ruisha”, “Raila” … “Hell no” whoever gets bothered being mothered by 3 little girls. After dinner I went to see my pal at the far end of the train. But I quickly returned finding out that, Ice creams were being served. Oh good, the girls had told the attendant that I was away so they kept mine aside, so I didn’t miss mine.
Now it was bunking time. All three of them perched on the top bunk on one side, and i climbed on my side. So now they ask me. Which class do I read in… I counted my years of studies from +2’s and replied .. 18th class. The youngest one retorted, that’s impossible. That caused some laughter. Now they started telling me Jokes… yeah they were a bit of a kind that if told at home, her mother would scold them, but finding an elder brother of the sorts who was just catalyzing their mischief, they were all very enthusiastic in narrating jokes. They demanded to hear horror story from me too bad i did not remember any. So they demanded to listen to the songs again. And I complied again. I even let Rumaiysha record a song of hers in my mobile. Soon her mother started preparing their bunks to put them to sleep. Now I have a peculier shape for my upper teeth, two of my canine’s protrude a bit outwards, so contorting my lower lips properly I have scared many a pesky kids. So we had some fun with my vampire tooth. We made some real scary faces. Then we all retired for the night.
I woke up a little later than they did and we were all best of friends. So we had tea. Then we kept up with the mischief. Middle sister actually had a twin who was back in kolkata with her dad and had not come with them. It’s actually then that I learnt that the names that they were calling each other by are nick-names, their real names were Natalia (gift of god), Nausheen (Delicate), & Nazm (Poem). So with the concurrency of so many N’s I showed them my girlfriend’s name … Nausheen was able to pronounce it correctly after 3 weird trials at pronouncing it. They were ebullient that the journey was coming to an end, what they did not know was that, I was missing them a lot. Some fun later, when finally we reached New Delhi, things got hasty, I and my friend were first timers in new Delhi finding our way to ISI Delhi on our own, I helped them down with their suitcases & bags. Me and my friend were deliberating on which way to go, we went to search for the metro lines, before I got on the foot bridge they were near the base of it, after walking sometime when I checked back… I could not see them anymore. They were just lost in the crowd of milling New Delhi railway station. Neither did I have their contact number, nor did I give them mine… in the hurry that part had just vanished.
Only one thought remains in my mind though, I miss my three little sisters, who had chased away all my fears of an impending exam and I had such an enjoyable journey with ‘mothering’ affection from them. I hold on to one little hope… that one day I’ll be going to Some place again on a train… and I would suddenly see them again, they would be older & maybe they won’t warm up to me like they did, or may be they won’t even recognize me, or maybe they will always preserve that wonderful spirit … and they would again ask me, “bhaiya are you ok…? hope you are not getting bothered”