It’s with an itinerant mind that I boarded the train to Bangalore from Alwaye railway station. There has been some questions raised on the authenticity of the work that I did in my previous project, and I had exhausted almost one whole day on telecon at my home to solve the issues. In the interim, I could not complete much of the personal work that I had to, at home, much to the dismay of my mother. Perplexed a propos whether having such a thankless job is worth my time and career, my deliberation route was preset. The whole process of boarding the coach, getting seated after keeping the luggage, and whatever I did in the train seemed to be a perfunctory procedure. Although I took out the novel ‘Thanalidam’ authored by Radhalakshmi Padmarajan that I had bought from the station, my mind was still roaming untamed about my choice of life. Maybe it’s the same ignorance that I had toward the book in my hand, which made me overlook the 50 odd year old person sitting right in front of me. All the while, maybe in my subconscious mind I was seeing this person who was the only other guy in my cube in the train. Anyway, now in hindsight, I do remember that this person looked like a simple Keralite, maybe an ordinary government employee, isolated from the present with something grave bothering his psyche. I must have seen him looking at me when I took out the book, and at times when I lifted my head, I could see that he was appallingly uptight with some despondency in his mind. At an instant or two, I wanted to wallop a tête-à-tête with him. I don’t know if it’s because of recalling the obligation for seclusion that I hunt for many a times, or my egotistic aim of clutching to something in the book without any disturbance, that I thought it would be better to leave the troubled man to himself. But why did I ‘fail’ to perceive that he was about to say something to me, when I got up to toss away the coffee cup? Is it just a reluctance to communicate with a fellow being who might be as old as my father, or is it just my mind trying to hold itself to the meaningless thought about same old life and career?
Anyway I am sure that this ignorance would turn out to be the final one that I give in my life. After expending some time trying to get through the first 2 pages of the novel, I decided to resign to my berth and roam around further in the mysterious terrains of my mind. It’s amazing that sometimes you love your journey to home and back, because those are the times you usually get your brain and mind for yourself. I think, maybe around midnight I slipped off to sleep, and all the while I was watching that my partner in despair was studying the unbounded darkness while he was sitting in the side seat that he got exchanged with someone who boarded from Palakkad. Even when I got down to wash my face just before I slept, he was gazing at me through the faded blue light in the compartment. Did I see a longing to let out something that has been gripping him for long, in his vulnerable eyes? Again the irrelevant deliberation about getting some sleep before I work on the design for the new project crept on me, and I conveniently ignored the elderly man. Quite amazingly, I slipped off to slumber within an hour and had been in the same state of sedate, peaceful unconsciousness for couple more hours.
It was the loud conversations below me that woke me up. I saw a small group of people, the TTR and a doctor with a stethoscope, leaning over the silhouette of a man who was on the train floor. I immediately jumped down to see what was happening. I saw the face of my silent friend, now gratis from all the despair, lying with a peaceful smile and closed eyes. The doctor who happened to be traveling in the same compartment as ours, told the TTR with a grim look “He is no more. Looks as if he had a major heart attack.”. I felt that the globe was whirling around me. I don’t know why I had my heart beating so quick as if its going to stop abruptly, that too for a person that I had barely noticed. The very thought that the sorrow and despair of that man could have been erased to an extent if I got him to talk and allowed him to vent out whatever was disturbing him, made my mind freeze. I still don’t know who this being is, or what sting he suffered from – but I got to realize that there are some things in life that you would want to change, however small they seem to be, while you think on retrospection. Sorry dear friend, I might have had a chance to save you, but I was too busy thinking about inconsequential concerns – I was too intimidated by my ego to even notice you. Now I know you, now I remember the moments in which I noticed you and communicated with you in silence, but all of this – only when I think in hindsight. If only I could turn back time, if only I could make a small correction, a small amendment in my mind – If only I could talk to you again, this time not in silence!