The Churchgate station was swarming with people hustling around to reach their destinations. As usual, Sushma reached before time thanks to the close proximity of her work with the station, Maya often catches the running train. By now, she has become pro in holding up the middle bar to enter the women’s compartment.
As the train embarked at the platform, Sushma pushed her way through the crowd and entered the compartment. She didn’t notice in the bone-crushing crowd, but Maya was just behind her (and on time). Once inside, Sushma gave her friend an interrogative glare but didn’t receive any reply. She could clearly see something is wrong with Maya today; she is not her usual self. ‘In 20 off minutes, the train will get a little emptier, I will ask her then’ thought Sushma.
‘You missed train last time, and today you are looking gloomy are you okay? There is something you want to talk, Maya?’
The only person Maya openly talks with is Sushma, because she would never judge or doubt her intentions. It doesn’t matter who Maya’s dad is or how much money she owns, all Sushma really cares about is – Maya.
It was a fateful night three years ago when Sushma saw a lady sobbing while looking out from a fast-speed Mumbai local train. They both were standing at the door pedestal waiting for the next station when Sushma realized the woman standing next to her might jump from the running train. She was scared but also conscious not to make any noise and further trouble the lady. When the train reached a bridge, the woman stepped ahead and released her left hand from the train bar. Sushma was over-alert and immediately caught hold of the woman’s arm when she tried to leap forward.
They didn’t say anything to each other until the station arrived, once disembarked Sushma pulled the lady to a corner and gave an earful. ‘Dying is not a solution, only cowards leave a battle mid-way. If killing self solves everything, half the world’s population and problems would have solved. I have seen so many jumping down from that dreadful bridge, do you think it will change anything? Only the family or friends get affected, no one else. Grow up and face your challenges.’
‘I don’t have friends and family – huh I don’t fit in their family tree’, you saved a dead person, thanks but no thanks,’ replied Maya.
Sushma held the woman’s hand and asked her to come along; once they reached home Maya was stunned to see the vicinity. It was an old depilated building with one common bathroom and a single water pipeline. Despite being in the city for five years, she never entered or seen a Mumbai Chawl life so closely. Entering a tiny room smelling like fish and moss, Sushma offered her a chair to sit. She made tea and offered few Parle-G biscuits to her stranger guest, while the neighboring kids were busy discussing Maya’s premium fashion footwear removed outside.
‘My mother eloped with her boyfriend when I was 3 years old, Baba (my father) thinks I am the reason Aayi left us. He cannot see my face, and I am sick of his drinking problem but still, we are together here in this crumbling house. What do you think, I haven’t tried killing myself and ending this sorry saga? Many times (while showing faded slashes on her wrists to the lady), when Baba tried to sell me to a local bar owner, I thought of killing him and hanging myself. Or when he beat me black and blue after getting drunk, I feel like jumping off the bridge. But that’s not a solution, there will be a better day tomorrow, every day is not the same day. Till then just hold on.
Maya suddenly felt her worries were microscopic; at least she was never harassed or abused by her family like this poor soul. She opened her heart out to Sushma, it was the beginning of a beautiful unconditional relationship called – friendship.
‘I slept with my Boss, it was a mistake and the way he looks at me today with a pity, oh Gosh, why did I do that, he is my BOSS?’ grumbled Maya.
The confession brought Sushma back to present from the memory lanes, ‘WHAT?’ Sushma yelped.
‘Okay please don’t over-react, I am anyway not in a right mood for all this melodrama!’ blurted Maya.
Rolling her eyes, Sushma replied ‘I am not going to preach or anything, but why do you say he looks at you with pity? Did you beg him to sleep with you?’
‘Of course, NOT, you know I wouldn’t do that even for a Hrithik Roshan,’ and they both chuckled at this funny announcement.
‘Yeah, you can have any man in your arms madam bombshell! But again, what makes you think he is sympathetic to you?’ probed Sushma.
Maya took a deep breath and narrated the entire incident to Sushma, ‘after we made love, I mean we had sex, in the morning he looked quite upset and kept babbling sorry and that it was a mistake. This shouldn’t have happened, etc. I tried to talk with him but he didn’t wait and left in a hurry. Today, he didn’t look at me while discussing work or at other places ignored my presence.’
‘Hmmm… But didn’t you say HE IS YOUR BOSS, so probably he would be having the same clash of emotions’.
Maya gave Sushma a long pensive look, while the train’s internal announcement informed the next destination in the background. Maya waved a bye to Sushma while stepping down at the Bandra station.
What will happen next? Will Sushma convince Maya to give Jatin another try or she was again been robbed by love. Stay tuned for the next part.
To read the beginning of this short story, click here.
‘This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon‘
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