An illusionary hope

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 38; the thirty-eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is “The Woman on Platform Number 10”

Sitting on this very bench has become a part of her otherwise insipid and stale existence. Sweat rolling down her back from all the exertion and efforts she has to endure on hot sunny mornings just to get to this bench on time. The place feels much familiar now and she no longer cringes at the stale stench of perspiration and garbage intermingled with the scent of steaming tea that fills the air around her. She looks around for the clock to see if she has enough time to buy herself a cold drink to relieve her parched throat. She decides against it and instead licks her dry lips. She sits there, edge of her saree pulled tight over her head chewing on its corner incessantly. Her eyes glued to the opposite platform which is brimming with the morning bustle.

Everyday, for the past one month she has been coming here. At first, the throng of people at the station intimidated her but gradually she felt settled. Sometimes she felt a tinge of envy to see how everyone seem to have a purpose and certainty in their life, the absence of which in her own life was realized at this very station – when she had seen them together.

Just as she is busy contemplating her life’s bearings she sees them, for they are the reason she has been coming here everyday for the past 30 days. A woman and a man. So much in love, holding hands, their fingers intertwined. They seem to have eyes only for each other. There are exchanges of amusing whispers followed by effortless bout of giggles. She could feel the closeness between them, the comfort, the easiness that comes in a relationship with time.

She couldn’t summon up the reason that urged her to come here every morning to catch a glimpse of them. She has been doing it since she saw them one morning when she was urgently called by her ailing and old father. That day, in the culmination of her desperation and the gravity of the situation, she had forgotten to inform even her husband, who by then had left for his workplace. She was waiting for the train when she saw them with the same insouciant attitude. From that day on she has been a regular onlooker of what seemed like a flawless love portrait. She tried to delve into the whys, but the best explanation she could come up with was that she wanted to feel and savor the moments. Something that was lacking in her own relationship with her husband. Yes that has to be it!

She was married to the man she now calls her husband when she was barely through her adolescence. It’s been five years since. Five years of trying to be the companion he wanted. But all her efforts had not been enough, for she could not get him to stop making her feel unwanted and undesirable. She had been so busy, to make herself feel worthy that the possibility of it never happening had completely escaped her mind. Everyday, when she looked at them, she experienced a feeling she had been craving for ages.

She is brought back to reality with a sudden thud. A lecherous looking man rested his grimy and battered bag by her side. He himself is busy scanning her, his eyes scrutinizing every part of her voluptuous body, leering as he pouts his paan stained mouth. Giving him a seething look she gets up and moves to a spot next to the nearby pillar.

Resuming her pursuit she contemplates going near them to see the desired effect on the man, would he acknowledge her or would he still be lost in the woman’s beauty?  The beauty that probably he would never see in her. It is not just today that she feels the urge to amalgamate into their world, every time she leaves her house she resolves to encounter them, to confront the man but  fails.

Today won’t be that day either.

Today too after they board the train, the same train, she will walk back home with every step getting heavier unable to bear the weight of her burdensome heart.

Today too she would let their image fade into the background until it is time to face them again tomorrow.

Today too she won’t confront her husband or the woman with him.

And may be then some day her husband would come back home, come back to her and this woman who she sees everyday with him will end up being what she is for her now.  The woman on platform number 10. Unnamed, unknown. Fleeting and transient.

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The white frock she never had.

She had started to get worried the moment her teacher announced that everybody was required  to wear white frock for the function. She knew she doesn’t have any and cannot afford to buy one. The function would be so much fun. She just hoped that by some sudden miracle she is able to discover one. She would have to ask her maa.

“Why is your mom so old?” Girls around would ask her. She knew the answer but would keep them at bay by saying something like

“She isn’t that old, she just looks like she is”

She called her ‘Maa ’ even though she knew it wasn’t that way. Her mother had died long back, she may have been 2 years old then. She somehow did not want to admit it to herself that the woman who loved her so much is not her mother. Her father is in Army and she didn’t like him much. She would hide under the cot whenever he visited them which was once or sometimes  twice a year. He was against her going to school but it was her maa, her mother’s mother, who wanted her to study. There was barely any money coming in the house , just what her father would send which was just enough for her school fees and other basic needs.

After she went back home and helped her Grand mom  prepare lunch and rummaging through every possible piece of cloth they had which also included the table cover, sofa cover she asked her Grand mom

“Maa do you have something in white that I could use as a frock?”

“Oh why don’t you wear yours?”

“Which one?”

“The one that u bought last Diwali”

“That one is not white, it’s yellow!”

“Oh my eyesight and I always thought it was white” chuckled her grand mom

“Why don’t you get them checked?”

“What change would it make if I am able to see white as white? And somehow it makes me feel better to see things my way”

She wasn’t in the mood to argue.

“I need a white frock for my school function” and then she saw  her grand mom’s face a few moments before feeling of helplessness and sadness escaped it.

She could no longer bear it so she ran out saying that she was going to play with her friends and that she hates functions and doesn’t wish to go.

Even as the words came out of her mouth she knew how untrue they were, she really wanted to be there for the function, for the joy of it, for the song they will get to sing, for the clapping, for the free ladoos that they would be getting after the function. She decided to go even if she had to wear the yellow frock.

Even after making the decision of going for the function the next morning, she kept tossing and turning in her less than comfortable bed. What she was feeling was a  mix of excitement and nervousness. Just then she felt a stir and she glanced at her maa who was sleeping by her side. She  could not resist any longer her urge to put her doubts to rest and called out in a hush but urgent tone/

“maa? MAA?”

“hmmm…” came the sleepy reply.

“umm I was thinking…”

“It will be all good, you my dear will get lots of clapping.  Haven’t I told you that million times already? Now let me sleep.”

“I love you”  she said as her maa drifted back to sleep her jaws open and breathe heavy and noisy.

As she reached her school it seemed like it was flooded with girls, everyone of them wearing different types of white  frocks. Some simple, some lacy, some over sized,  some fancy. She could feel the stares creeping all over her, she felt like turning and making a dash for home but the mirth, the joy, happy giggles the celebration all together seized her from leaving.  Nervously she approached her class teacher. Even before she could wish her a good morning, a slap  landed on her cheek with a thud. Everything was a blur from then on. She just remembered a little discussion, sneering  teachers as if she was an untouchable, girls giggling at her foolishness. She was made to stand at the far end of the ground – a punishment for her disobedience.

As it rained she sat at the bus stop letting  tears roll down her burning cheek. She let the rain drench her. She wished that the rain would wash away the yellow of the frock and then may be hidden underneath it would be a spotless white frock.