Thoughts on wheels

1 May 2022

I am at the station. It’s 7, and the platform seems mostly empty. Well, that’s usual for this time of the day. Not many people would leave their offices till 9 anyway. Oh, here’s the train.


I like sitting here in my usual compartment. I take out my current read ‘Pride & Prejudice’. I’m going to be stuck in this box for over an hour after all!


//

My stomach grumbles. I look at my watch and it has only been twenty minutes. Well, I guess the food will have to wait.


//

Oh, come on now! Why is he sitting next to me? He looks like he’d be in his early 20s. Look at that light stubble and that weird graphic tattoo on his arm. Should I say something? Gosh! My social skills are doomed. Well, why talk to him when I can focus on my book!


He says, “It is a good book”.

“I know”, I reply.


There is no need for him to give his opinion where it isn’t required. A tense silence ensues but if it doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t bother me.


//

I can’t believe it has been 45 whole minutes since he started boring me with his life history! Don’t people think whether the other person is even interested or not?! This is what eternity must feel like!


Oh my! Yes! Here’s my station! Finally. Good riddance!


2 May 2022


Oh my god! There’s that guy again. Wasn’t I supposed to never meet him again? Wait, he never actually told me his name, that’s weird. Maybe I'll just think of him as that guy forever. Anyway, why bother giving this thought another moment. What’s the point if we are never going to talk again?


//

We’ve been talking and boy was I wrong! Terribly, terribly wrong. His life biography is much more than the mere 45-minute monologue that he delivered the other day.


10 May 2022


Well, well, well. Look how the tables have turned. I am actually beginning to like Hridaan. Cute name, right?


So, here’s his life as I know it. He, like me, leaves his office around 7 in the evening, works at an IT company, and has been living here for the past three years. Grew up in Bangalore and is a single child.


Once I look past his extremely extroverted personality, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. He even brought me lunch once when I told him that I hadn’t had it the day before. Isn’t that just so sweet? To compensate for that act - because how could I not - I brought him my homemade brownies the next day. They are lit, I have been told. Now it has become our little tradition to exchange such meals on our journey. Something unique, or something basic, or some recipe that we are masters at.


//

There he is! He seems a little off today. When he sits next to me, I ask, “Are you okay?”. There is no coherent response. Maybe he needs some space, maybe he will eventually open up when he is comfortable.


//

He doesn’t talk to me the whole ride back home. I just sit there, stewing in silence. Brilliant, isn’t it?


//

Here’s my station. Talk Hridaan. This is your last chance... Nope. Not a word from his side. I mumble a small “Bye” and leave the train.


18 May 2022


I am freaking out. Big time. I haven’t seen Hridaan in the past week. I have tried calling him but his phone is always out of reach. What if something bad happened to him? Wild thoughts are gnawing at me. Hopefully, I’ll think better once I sit down in my train compartment.


//

Wait, someone seems to be sitting there in my usual seat. Hridaan! Oh my god! Thank you so much! But I won’t show these emotions to him. He needs to know how badly he pissed me off.


He is smiling. I want to wipe it right off his face, but I’ll restrain myself. There are some questions I need to ask first. “Hey Hridaan, wanna tell where you have been gallivanting off for the last seven days?” Uh oh, he is trying to deflect. But he doesn't know me well, does he? I am stubborn. I won’t go without answers today.


Finally, he reluctantly replies, “It was my mother’s birthday this weekend so I had gone to her beach house. It was a last-minute plan, so I forgot to tell you.” That’s sweet but I don’t know why there’s a feeling in my gut that this isn’t the truth. Maybe it is, or maybe I need to leave the matter alone. Well, let’s just enjoy the fact that he is finally back again.


25 May 2022


Over the course of the last few days, Hridaan and I have fallen back into our normal routine. Conversations flow comfortably among us. The chemistry is undeniable. It was just this weekend when I thought to myself, hmm…we should go on a date sometime and yesterday he, very nervously, asked me out. I have been running on a high since then.


//

Okay, so the dress looks good, my hair looks good, and I look good. Now all that’s left is for Hridaan to come over.


//

Why is my phone ringing? Oh! It's him. I smile and pick up the phone. He says, “I might have to take a raincheck on our plan. An unexpected meeting has come up and I need to attend it.” He abruptly ends the call. What just happened? Is this some sort of a joke?


My mood deflates faster than a balloon. All the excitement seems to be draining right out of me. Okay. New plan. I’ll go to my room and treat myself to a bucket of ice cream while watching Gilmore girls. Yeah, it sounds perfect.


The doorbell rings. Now what? Just let me be by myself. I open the door.


GOD!!! I almost get a heart attack. Hridaan is standing in the doorway, holding a bouquet of roses and another bag which I assume has food. I smile so hard my cheeks hurt. So, instead of going out to some restaurant, he decided to just stay at home and enjoy our dinner. All quiet and serene. Just us and the food. He sets the table, lights some candles, and starts my vinyl recorder. It’s the best feeling ever.


//

Mmm…the food is delicious, there is no questioning that.


Suddenly, Hridaan clears his throat and says, “Hey, remember the time I was gone for a week and I said that it was for my mom’s birthday? Well, I was lying. I thought you should know before it happens”.


The spoon freezes midway to my mouth. Before what happens?


Thoughts churn in my head. I try to voice them but no sound comes out. This isn’t normal. Panic fills me up. Water, I need some water. It‘ll definitely help. Instead, I start to cough. My throat is parched and it feels like someone has poured fire all over my body. My vision begins to swim. There is chaos, outside and within.


Through the haze, I hear Hridaan saying “You are a foolish girl to have trusted me so completely. Well, had you checked my profile, you would have double-locked your house at night and…” His voice fades out as my thoughts screech.


He writes something on a piece of paper, like a note, and leaves it on the table. I try to follow him but fall from my chair. Ouch! It hurts. I am lying here, writhing, gasping for air. Sudden chills spread all over my body. Unconsciousness seems to be lurking around the edges.


No, no, no… this can't be happening. I’ll kill that man with my bare hands, consequences be damned. I just need to stand up and get to my phone. I just need to call the police. I just need to–


This Night Owl Original has been authored by Maahi Sharma. She is a sarcastic bookworm who spent the past 18 years of her life narrowly avoiding talking to people. She is a Gryffindor at heart but with latent Slytherin tendencies. She loves binging old SRK movies, and responds mostly to "Your Majesty".

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