“When does your train leave?”
“It leaves at ten, so we have about an hour’s worth of time left.”
“Ohhh let me stop at a chemist first. The shops will close by the time I return.”
“You’re not well?”
“No, I am fine. I just need to pick up sanitaries.”
“Why do you need to pick up sanitaries?”
He realized it was a stupid question to ask of her. She gave him a glance as she pulled over close the chemist shop. She silently turned the ignition off and got down to purchase the sanitary pads. He turned on a game on his cell phone to pass time till she would come back. She returned in a few minutes and started the engine. A few quiet minutes passed before he started staring at her.
“I have an awkward question.”
“Your questions are always awkward.”
“It is possibly stupid too”
“They happen to be that as well. But I am used to them now, ask.”
“If diapers and sanitary pads work on the same principle, why doesn’t a company make them both? I mean wouldn’t it make sense to use the same technology on two different products.”
“Companies already do that.”
“Oh, they do? It makes sense to do so.”
“Remind me again, why I am still a friend with you?”
“Because of my intelligence and charm!” he said as he made a rolling motion with his hand and grinned wide.
“And yet you ask questions like this.”
She continued to smile at him.
“So why are you leaving by the train, when you can take the early morning flight?”
“Arrey, I will have to wake up early for the early flight. Sleep will get screwed.”
“Yeah, I know how much you need your beauty sleep.”
“Haaww… I need to be my best for the presentation tomorrow. I thought I can catch up on my sleep in the train. Both will reach at the same time anyway.”
“No baba, beauty sleep.”
“Yeah, yeah, Beauty sleep. What do we know; some hot girl might end up hitting on me in the train.”
“Oh please do check if the girl is short sighted before you get such an impression from her.”
Both of them ended up guffawing. They had reached the railway station, and she parked the car. He took his bag out and walked towards the stairs while she went towards the ticket counter to purchase an entry ticket. She came back with one soon as there was no queue, and they both started climbing the stairs together. Since he was carrying his bag, she got ahead by a few steps. He noticed the way in which she climbed the stairs. How she took long strides that would make her take two steps instead of one. How her pants would pull against her and accentuate her rear, and how while climbing down there would be a little jiggle in them if she skipped a step.
She started looking at the overhead sign boards which would inform them where which compartment would be once the train would stop. Since they were still early by almost twenty minutes they were not showing any information. He set his bag down on one of the many seats on the platform while she asked a vendor where the AC coaches would stop. He saw that he had forgotten to bring water with him for the journey and signalled her to get a bottle for him from the same vendor.
“Your coach will be just a little ahead, so we can sit here till the train comes.”
“Oh good, I don’t have to lug this bag around then.”
“What are you carrying in it?”
“My laptop, a pair of clothes for tomorrow and a tee and capris for the return trip tomorrow.”
“You know if this presentation doesn’t work out, you can always try to find work as a coolie. You have good experience.”
“It’s not that heavy. Besides I can’t sleep in pants on the way back. So I packed a set of capris as well. I will come back to the company guest house and change before returning.”
“And why are you not taking a flight back?”
“Umm. I thought I could shop around a little and take the late night train back. Catch up on my beauty sleep.”
“You and your sleep.”
There was a pregnant pause. He didn’t know what she was thinking. He wanted to talk to her about it, but was unsure how to bring it about. He stared at her feet for a while which she was tapping away. She was wearing brown colored chappasl which had a pattern of red curves drawn into them. They were quiet for a while before they heard the announcement of his train. Soon enough they could make out the beam of the headlight of the train, followed by the blaring horn seconds later. Once the train came to stop, she stood by the waiting chairs while he went and kept his bag on his berth. He came out to say a bye.
“Reshma.” He called her name in a slow prolonged voice.
“Do you want me to get you anything from there?”
“I thought you’d never ask. I hear you can get good street-wear there. Get me some bracelets or beads.” She replied with a grin.
The train gave another blaring horn which meant that it would now leave. He turned and climbed on to it. She waived a bye.
“Message me one you reach home.”
This is how both of them parted. He got back to his berth, and lay down thinking about the night. Of all the things he had told, the ones he wanted to tell, and more importantly the ones he didn’t. He was lost in his thoughts of her, wondering when and how should he tell her about it. Few minutes passed before he received her message that she had reached home. Seconds later he received another wishing him a good night’s sleep. His beauty sleep was far from his mind as he lay awake on the berth now, lost in his thoughts.