The wind’s got it!
It had been a usual day at college for Raghav. Lectures, Pankaj’s antics and dim-witted response of Shekhar. The lad donned the invisible dunce-crown of the class. Unable to gauge the questions asked by the faculty, he would still be the first one to raise his hand. And his answers seemed miles away from the topic of the day. Sometimes, Raghav felt bad for the poor chap, when he became the butt of ridicule in the class. He often wondered what made Shekhar so thick-skinned. Why couldn’t he just attend, hear what the teacher said and emerge from the class? As for Pankaj. He was the opposite. Disinterested but present. He always had something up his sleeve. Today it was the glue on Suman’s chair. Old trick, but not lost on the poor girl who stormed out, declaring she would make sure Shekhar suffered for it. Suman’s seething image perked it’s head and Raghav suppressed a giggle. He returned to the moment with the lurching of the train. It had moved out of Churchgate and was hurtling ahead. Raghav’s college was located in Churchgate and he travelled to Andheri each day!
The mostly vacant coach offered place to sit, but Raghav had had enough of that for the day. He chose to stand at the door, clutching the hand bar for safety. He loved it when the wind rushed against his cheeks and wisps of his slightly long hair blew. It helped dry the sweat too. Classroom had been exceptionally hot that day. And this train ride on the Mumbai local was more than a relief. Air-conditioned! Air rushed in from all sides.
On most days, Raghav would stand alone staring into the distance, recalling the day’s events or taking in the blurred view as the train whizzed past several high rises and overlooked some stations. That’s what he loved about the fast trains. They wouldn’t stop at every station, kept good speed and of course would take him home faster. Early morning classes were not his cup of tea, but attendance was mandatory and there was no escaping. Happy to be on his way home but not so much for the company that he had that day. He preferred to stand by the door all by himself. It gave him a feeling of authority and ownership.
That day was different. A well attired man, a laptop bag strung across his shoulder had boarded a station after him and was speaking on the phone via his Bluetooth headset. Struggling to keep the conversation going, the new arrival was yelling almost at the top of his voice. As if the person on the opposite side would hear him. Moving trains are never the best of places for phone calls. But there seemed to be an emergency. His flapping tie and strands of hair in his face made matters more difficult for him observed Raghav. Despite the struggle, he continued to talk. As the local sped ahead it appeared to Raghav that his companion had lost whatever little signal he had for now all he was uttering was, “Hello! Hello…. Multiple times. So engrossed was the man that he missed the strong gush of wind that came with the oncoming train. Oblivious he continued to yell. Amazing concentration ad consternation writ on his brow as the gentleman continued. “Hello!” he yelled.” Hello! Can you hear me?” Raghav couldn’t hold back any longer The Pankaj in him awakened and he shook with repressed laughter.
It came in spurts and the man looked up quizzically, an irked expression on his face. It was the look that did it. Raghav tried his level best to hold back the laughter bubbling within him, slapping his palm against his mouth. With the other hand he kept pointing at the stranger’s ear. The irritated man, touched his ear to realise what had happened.
The onrush of wind which came with the train that had just zoomed past, had blown way his Bluetooth headset. And not noticing it, he had continued to talk. Raghav could no longer hold back. Laughing uncontrollably, he spread out his hands around the vertical bar and signalled like a bird flying. “flo….wwwwn away’ said he. Ripples of laughter spread around the coach; a stone tossed in a tranquil pond. The embarrassed man grinned weakly and slipped the phone deep into his pocket! The tired faces around lit up with smiles and momentarily forgot the weariness of their day. And Raghav?
His sleepiness evaporated and his day made lighter by another train travel experience.