Three years back, sitting on a bench waiting for my train to home at New Delhi Railway Station, I was mulling over in the anticipation of my one week holiday, as I served my eyes with the stupid thing called Facebook (no offense) on my phone.
The train was delayed by an hour and I was early to reach the platform by two hours. A while later, somebody sat beside me.I subconsiously noticed it but did not pay any attention and continued to read an article on nurses.
Ten minutes passed and I felt my stomach rumbling with hunger.
‘Excuse me, aap thoda shift ho sakte ho, please (could you move over a bit, please)?’“, a crisp clear male voice said.
I looked up and automatically shifted. Then, one old man with a pot belly and Nava Ratna oiled hair slumped himself on the bench, placing his two bags on the little bit better space. I inwardly resented it: seats are for people to sit, not for bags.
It was then that I noticed the guy beside me.
He was young, in his twenties, I suppose.A millisecond glance showed me that he was of good looking, dressed in a tucked-in shirt over jeans.I looked back at my phone, scrolling up and down, here and there–signs of boredom.
After 10 minutes, I got bored and signed out with a heavy sigh.”Help me?”, the guy beside me asked.
‘Help me?’, the guy beside me asked.
Thinking that I probably have misheard him i said, ‘Er, pardon?’
‘Eff-Bee?’ He repeated.
‘Oh, yeah.’, I replied. Oh, Facebook! So famous.
‘Sorry, I just glanced at your phone.’, He said in English.
Bad manners, dude.
‘Oh,’ I said, raising my eyebrows at him, all gaurds on alert.
‘Sorry, I disturbed you…please carry on’, He said, embarrassedly.
He had that ‘please-talk-to-me’ face which I couldn’t ignore.
And, I was bored, honestly.
‘Oh no, its fine.I was bored anyway,’ I replied, with a neutral faint smile, putting the phone screen facing down on my lap.
He smiled.A dead smile: the one which one gives when he has a pain inside, the one that never reached his eyes.
There was silence.
‘You’re studying?’, He asked.
‘Fresher, just graduated and just missed an interview for a job.’
I felt bad. ‘Why?’
He didn’t say anything.I felt embarrased that I was asking more than necessary.
There was a pause.
‘Are You okay?’ I asked, hesitantly.
He gave me a half surprised half smile look. ‘You really wanna know?’
‘I don’t ask meaningless questions.Though, I know, usually, people actually don’t care about the answer when they ask you how you are.’
‘You’re quite a philosopher.’, He remarked.
‘Realistic.’ I corrected. ‘Practical and realistic.’
‘So, are you okay?’ , I asked again.
There was again a momentary pause.
‘Let me ask You something…’, he said.
I looked up.
‘I am a 22-year-old guy, do I deserve to be happy?’
I stared at him for a long moment.
‘Huh?’, I asked.
‘Ya, answer me, I am a 22-year-old guy,do I deserve to be happy?’ he asked.
‘Everyone deserves to be happy…’, I said.His question was questioning my mind.
‘But not everyone is happy, he said.
‘How does being 22 years old makes any difference?’, I asked, confused.
‘Doesn’t it?’, he asked me. He sighed.
I frowned slightly, lost in thoughts.
He probably had gone through a lot lately.But his face showed a certain calmness, like the calmness of the seas before a storm…
‘Happiness is determined by time…as far as I know, we don’t deserve happiness if we just demand it instead of wondering about it.’ I said. ‘I mean, you cannot rely on other things or other people to make you happy. Happiness is a state of mind. In your mind. It’s all up to you, isn’t it?
He glanced at me and then looked back at the opposite platform again.
‘I lost my dad last year…my girlfriend of three years says I’m not good enough for her or anyone for the matter because I lost my job twice this year, excluding the fact that she cheated on me with my cousin three months back, multiple times…my mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s…she doesn’t remember who I am…and I’ve no idea why am I telling you all this considering the fact that we just met.’
I blinked as my eyes burned with sudden tears as I realized how much better my life was.I sat numb for a moment as he said it all and I got stunned by this guy’s reality.He was still not breaking, but he looked like he was at the verge of it.
His world was falling apart. Piece by piece.
Giving Sympathy is not my style, but empathy is.But, strangely, I realized that my empathy would never come up to the level of what he was going through.
‘You’ll go through it.’, I said.
He looked at me.
‘You’ll go through…I know I can never understand how u feel, but trust me…You’ll make it to the end.’ , I said.
“You think so?”,he asked.
“I know so.”,I said, confidently.
We both looked back at the opposite platform.
Five minutes later, the announcement for my train’s arrival resounded the station.
After few minutes, the train was snaking in to the platform.
‘Thats my train.’ I informed.
‘Oh,’ He said, looking tad disappointed.Then He grinned,
‘Shit, I was starting to like u!’
We both chuckled at t his, as the coaches passed by as the train slowed down.
I got up and looked at Him.
‘You’re a 22 year old guy, you really deserve to be happy…just dont give up yet.Happiness is around the corner.’
He smiled. ‘Yes, ma’m.’
I smiled and waved him bye.
I turned to walk towards my coach and boarded the train and said a silent prayer: God, he deserves to be happy.
And I bet God knew it.
I always sit on the same bench whenever I am in that station.