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- Mattie Stepanek
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In the hustle and bustle of the station,
A man aged 40-45 struggled his way in the train. Coach S8 and seat 16- he reserved it after standing in the long que yesterday but now only to find someone already there. Light was falling on her through the window forming the stripes of a tigeress. Though she looked calm and was rather very peaceful while sleeping he couldn't dare to wake her up. And without saying a word he climbed on an upper birth on right, which was empty. He was 6 ft tall and was very formally dressed up in a suit-quite unusual for someone who is travelling in sleeper class. And he used the words like-please, thank you ,sorry- another unusual factor. For such a tall man upper birth was a very uncomfortable place. But he didn't frown. He adjusted quitely and soon started scribbling something on some paper he had in his briefcase. He looked like a man with a purpose. Who existed there for a reason. Whose existence mattered in the world and on whom there were people out there who depended. He had no time to fight for his seat in the train he had bigger things to do. Things which mattered more. Train left the platform and took up a pace. A tea vendor came in - claiming his tea to be the best and that if he is wrong he wonʼt charge any money for the tea- his claims quickly got him a lot of attention- waking up the tigress. A spark of hope gleamed in the eyes of the businessman. But the she turned her back , ignoring the tea vendor- and went back into the den of her dreams. The Business man looked at her like a hungry cub. Then turned his head away and tried to get back into his work-which mattered more. But every now and then whenever she moved a little he looked at her to claim his seat back. But she was deep in the sea of sleep. The time became very slow. Every minute seemed like an hour to him, he couldn't work. After thinking and gathering all the courage he could, he stepped down his seat. His heartbeats raced like the horses he saw on the television the other day- they were a sheer pleasure that day but today it was anxiety which was gripping him. He gathered all his energy to utter the words-"excuse me!". She didn't move. May be he was not loud enough. He said it again. A bit louder this time. But again no response. He stretched his arm towards her- tapped on her shoulder. But it seemed like she had lost all her senses in her sleep. He quitely moved back where he came from- Upper birth-where he had to stoop to sit. But all he could think was his seat. It belonged to him and he wanted it back. By now everyone around him started noticing his uncomfortable behaviour, making him even more uncomfortable. He digged his head back into his papers. Few stations passed and he almost forgot about his seat. He stretched his legs and lay his back on the seat. “Ahh it is relaxing”he thought, when body is at comfort and ease then so is the mind. He was quite in a pain the whole time. He kept his papers inside to doze off when someone tapped his leg.
Now it was time for him to wake up the lady and take back the seat. Like the young boy did with him. This time he was more confident. He said "excuse me "-loud and clear. She opened one eye. And questioned with her head. The business man showed her his ticket-"16" he said "its my seat".
"Its 18.. look again" the woman said and went back to sleep like a careless child. The business man stood there.
Shocked. He went
through so much
didnʼt belong to him.
He looked at ‘hisʼ
seat. It was there.
Empty. We neglect
what we have for the
insecurity of what
Comparing our house
with the neighboursʼ
that that bunglow
doesnʼt have that
wall on which your
daughter drew her
first drawing. And
that garden where
there is hardly any grass because your dog loves to dig and play in mud.
The train became slow to stop at the station and the businessman moved with it on the same pace-slowly,towards the gate. Thinking what his son must be wearing today for the fancy dress at his school. Will he be sad when he will not see his father in the audience, sitting beside his mother, cheering for him , or
just being there-looking at him, smiling. He will understand, as always, anyways he is too young to remember. But he was in his forties. And his memory was sharp.
He got down at the station and trudged his way for the ‘ important ‘ meeting.