‘People do not have enough time to read or watch anything long. So, can you write something interesting, which is er, let us put it this way, amenable to quick enjoyment? Especially now that all are writing love stories, can you try one?’ My friend sipped her coffee.
‘Can I write a murder mystery instead: very short?’ I wheedled. Wry cynicism is more my nature than a naive trust in happily-ever-after. Give me short films like ‘Chutney’ any day with Saki’s stories as accompaniment!
‘Later…we will try that later. You have half an hour,’ she said.
She is like a sister to me; and sisters have the right to demand anything.
Love In a Train
Sound of rain…and a train whistling…The story unfolds in a train compartment
Young man: Damn! The train has stopped again! Someone must have pulled a chain..The phone has no range in these parts…where are we, in the middle of jungles? Who lives in such places?
Old Man: ( Coughs) I guess, people like you and me.
Young man: I did not mean to be rude.But see, there is no internet or mobile range.
Old man: Girl friend? Urgent call?
Young man:( laughs) Oh, no! No time for all that…Besides, I am yet to find someone that special. Just my mother… wanted to tell her that the train is running late.
Old man: Since we are alone in this compartment, may be you will like to listen to a story?
Young man: Oh, yes… there is nothing else to do, anyway! I mean… please tell me.
Old man: It is a love story…
Young man: ( curious) Really?
Old man… It began in a train compartment like this… some fifty years ago.
Young man( Old man’s younger version) voice: Oh, blast this rain… and this train is moving through jungles! Who lives in such places, I wonder… Ah, not again…another station?
Sound of a luggage being dragged
Young man( whisper) My lucky day! What a beautiful young woman! That must be her mother… or aunt?
Middle aged lady: Beta, can you help with the luggage? We are drenched…
Young man: Oh sure… here we go. Where are you going?
Middle aged lady: Oh this girl works too hard and has fallen sick! I am taking her home for a vacation.
Young woman: ( laughs) You exaggerate greatly auntie.
Young man: You work here… in the jungles? It must be terrible. What are you doing? I mean… Are you teaching? You should try for a job in the city. There must be options.
Young woman: These are tribal areas, and people are much nicer than in the cities. I am a doctor.
Middle aged woman: She is a gold medallist. Did her higher studies in England but insisted that she would work for poor tribals.Works with a missionary hospital here.
Young man : ( Utterly flabbergasted) Really! My God! I feel so stupid. I am sorry! I mean…
Young woman: It is alright. I hear that a lot. It is my choice and I am fine. What do you do?
Young man: I have my own business…
Cut to modern train scene…train chugs..whistles..
Old man: I told her that I was running my family business in the big city. I had just opened a new factory in a nearby town. I was trying to impress her… you see, I had fallen in love.
Young man: Whistles! ( It strikes him for the first time that old men were once young too!)
Old man: We got married eventually. My wife started her own hospital in the tribal region. Later we started a school too.
Young man: Wonderful! Where is ma’am now?
Old man: Sighs! Love is such a gift, but sometimes it is snatched away fast. The memories remain. She passed away five years ago.
Young man: I am so sorry!
Old man: Don’t be. We had a beautiful life together. Today, our only grand daughter took over as the new head of the hospital. She has just returned from England with a gold medal, like her grand ma. I went to bless her. She wanted someone to accompany me back. I refused. There is strength in my old bones still. Besides, I wanted to travel in a train back for memories’ sake.
Young man: I am speechless.
Old man: My phone is buzzing. The range must have come back. Hello! Hello dear, I am fine. I have a travel mate. A young man in the compartment. We are having a good time chatting. Yes, I will take my medicines, don’t worry. What! Ok, will give the phone to him, one second.
Young man: Hello! Yes. Ensure he takes medicines before he sleeps? Oh sure, I will remind him. May I know, your good name? Ah! lovely name. Sorry, I mean, yes, sure. I will look after him.
Old man: ( Laughs) She is as stubborn as her grand ma…By the way, what do you do beta?
Young man ( respectfully ) I have my own tea plantations, sir.
Old man: Ah! a businessman. I like that.