I was travelling by two tier AC sleeper to Bangalore by the night mail. I had the upper berth. I had come earlier to the station and settled myself in the lower berth waiting for the other passengers to come and the train to start. A heavily built man in his forties sweating profusely and smelling with body odour came in and sat in the opposite lower berth. He grinned at me revealing his paan stained teeth and asked “Are you in lower berth?”Somehow I took an instant dislike for him but said “No, mine is the upper berth”“That is what I thought. I saw a lady’s name in the chart” he said with a giggle that was unnecessary.
I ignored him and started looking around. There was just ten minutes for the train to depart and most of the berths had been occupied except the one I was sitting. Suddenly a young lady in her late twenties entered the coach and came rushing looking at the numbers of the seats. She stopped near me and said “This must be mine.”
The stocky man who was watching her said unsolicited”Yes, madam.His is the upper berth.”
I said”Yes, this is yours. I will go up after the train starts”
“It does not matter. I just wanted to make sure. I am also a late sleeper” she replied me with a smile
When she moved near the window the stocky man who was sitting by the aisle side also moved near the window in his berth. It looked a bit crude to me. She was a beautiful woman, slim with short hair that was curly and well chiseled features. The man tried to make conversation with her telling her that Chennai was extremely hot and asking her where she was bound for. She did not encourage any conversation by an imperceptible nod to his questions. She turned her face towards me and smiled at me before asking whether the bed roll man had taken orders. I replied that I hadn’t noticed and went near the entrance gate to find him. He brought her the roll and she thanked me profusely. We were then making small chat. She belonged to Bangalore and lived in Bannergata road. She spoke English with a convent accent and smiled often showing her sparkling teeth. I didn’t know whether she was single or married and if it were the latter, her man is indeed a very lucky bloke. I wished she were single.
I did not fail to notice that the stocky uncouth guy was staring her all the time and averted his gaze only when she turned his side. But she rarely did. The train had gathered speed and it was time to switch off the lights. I went up but could not sleep. She stretched herself in the lower berth. The stodgy guy who was in the other lower berth turned his face towards her side and kept on looking at her. I was watching him from my berth. As I was slowly dozing into sleep, I heard a rustle and saw her sit up. I bent my head towards her and asked her of any problem. The stout guy was pretending to sleep. She said by turning towards his side ”I don’t know whether it was by mistake. But his legs touched mine twice”
I said”OK, if you wish you can come up and I will occupy your berth”
She accepted the offer with alacrity saying “Thank you so much. You are so kind”
When we both got down the next morning at Cantonment station, she gave me a slip of paper with her address and asked me “You must come home this Sunday for lunch. I will be waiting for you and I wish to build on this friendship”
My joy knew no bounds at my luck .I promised her that I would be there sharp at 1pm.She extended her hands and warmly shook mine and said “ I am Sadhana and work in a bank”
I replied ”I am Sampat working in ITcompany.I am so happy I met you. I look forward to meeting you”
The next Sunday as I was driving to her house, I was fantasizing at the possibility of her falling in love with me and our life together. I was sort of sure that she was drawn to me.
As I rang the bell, she opened the door. She was in Salwar Kameez in her dazzling best.”I knew you wouldn’t fail me. Since early morning, you were in my thoughts”
I was in cloud nine as she took me to the living room. A young handsome man in jeans was sitting with a baby in arms and a kid of four by his side. She said “Meet my hubby Abhinav.The baby is Aditi and the boy is Sharath.”“Abhi, this is the good Samaritan who helped me from the lecherous eyes of a monster that night in the train. You were in doubt whether he would come. But he has kept his word”
Though disappointed, I was glad I found a good family to be friend with.