This is the story of my almost-there trip to my hometown.
The days are rainy as always. The only difference was whenever I woke up or was in a non sleepy state I saw her. She was there with the now familiar worried expression and the same old words. “Did you decide what to do?” You see the train I was meant to take the day after to my hometown had been blasted to smithereens the previous day killing about 30 people. It had jolted the day lights out of my people. They suddenly began imagining the same happening to me when I travelled the next day. Hence, the increasingly anxious requests to cancel the trip and stay back were being bombarded at me left, right and centre.
I had taken the well traversed route of indifference. What did I care if they felt anxious and scared? The blast had occurred once, it was almost statistically impossible for it to happen again on the same train, even if it had been an engineered blast as a result of sabotage. I played stupid. I began asking questions about stuff to do in case some dangerous dacoits entered the train or if the coach got hijacked. (Least possible scenarios, these, were actually aimed at bringing out a session of distracting fun poking. Instead they initiated a load of accusations about me being really scared of travelling in trains! (Who is?)
But as I sat contemplating the incredulity of changing my decision a day before the much awaited trip, the frequency and the intensity of the requests to stay back became staggeringly overwhelming.
Amazingly enough, I had confessed to her a few days back that I was wondering about the possibility of me getting immensely bored on the trip. I had unconsciously released a weapon. Regret once disclosed only brings despair in unforeseen circumstances!
I listened to various opinions. Some advised me to stay safe, some told me close my eyes and get onto the train, the brashness of it all appealing to me by the second and some told me to think about it.
I did not realize but I was getting sucked into the inescapable reality that I may not be able to go after all. I was feeling increasingly tongue tied at several occasions whenever the question about the decision presented itself and the one thing I really did not wrap my brain around till now is that I never packed my bags. No, I did not even attempt to begin.
The sudden power failure in the whole of north India did me a great favour! (Of course it didn’t!) Trains were getting late everywhere, the statistic seemed to only increase, it did not even slow down. The rains as usual brought their minions along so now the entire state of Madhya Pradesh was on alert in order to survive impending floods. Some areas did get inundated and I wondered if the rail tracks too were flooded. I was slowly looking out for the negative signs. Did the rails get submerged, did trains make unplanned stops at places for more than a day, and was the train blast a terrorist attack or planned sabotage?
The day before the trip I awoke undecided as ever. My lack of sagacity was a well exploited trait and hence I found requests being made for information regarding cancellation of tickets and refunds in progress. So I understood, the requests soon became instructions and soon I found myself bundled up on my bed with three phones to talk it out with friends and family and make a decision. If it was the same as before then I better pack my bags. I closed my eyes and thought. It didn’t help. I called a few people and asked for advice. It was always the same confusing and now becoming increasingly irritating response. “Think about it! Do you want to take a risk? On the other hand you can’t really take such things into consideration and stop living life.”I hated this very statement. If there is one thing i know is that I am once bitten thrice shy! The comments about getting scared of a random blast and floods seared me through. I loathed the situation it put me in. I did not want to give in to my primal fears and cancel it all out. After all I did prepare myself mentally and had dedicated numerous shopping trips to the oncoming so called adventure. Forget about what the world thought. In my own mind’s mirror, I’d always be the one who cancelled a trip to her grands because I didn’t have the necessary guts.
But then I put myself in her shoes and thought about how worried I would be. It was just weird that I wanted to think that way. The result of all the turmoil my mind was in was desperately pointing towards taking up the numerous offers made to stay back. I tried to fight them off, and then I thought about her. I got up and announced I had decided not to go. The green signal for ticket cancellation was given and she finally left for work relieved as ever.
The afternoon news reported that over 700 (exaggerated to 1500 in conversations concerning my trip and me) trains had been held up due to the power failure which was looming over the country like a black cloud. I did not bother to check on my train.
As I was turning back after my announcement, I retraced my steps to my bed and lay down not getting up for the next 3 hours. I let the cursory tear roll down and tried to accept the truth that I am, in life, a coward.