Like most days I had slept late the previous night and was not able to get up in time for office. I called the office to tell them I will be a little late. At least I now had a godsend in the Delhi metro – even if I was late there was going to be no problem in reaching office. And I hated the morning rush anyway. Shoving, jostling, pushing, and even then no place to stand! In spite of its immense benefits, I still felt that the Delhi metro had a long way to go before offering world class service to the residents of the city and its suburbs.
I shaved and bathed, dressed, had a quick breakfast and rushed out of the house. It was already 9.45 and I would not reach office before 10.45. That was one hour later than when I usually made it to office. I reached the station, swiped the metro card and entered the platform. The train towards HUDA City Centre was rolling into the platform, and I hurried to reach the last coach, which I was usually found to be less crowded than the others. I made it comfortably, and waited for the doors to open. At this time there were fewer people boarding the train, and I hoped to have a comfortable ride for a change. The doors started opening, and that is when I first saw him. Although the coach was not as crowded as it usually is at 9.00 am, there were still a lot of people, and I had to struggle to make my way in. I found a place for myself, and realized that I was standing right beside him!
I am now thinking how best I can describe him. He was incredibly young – his face had the innocence which can be associated with a young man straight out of college, or someone who has just landed his first job. He was clean shaven, had straight hair which was neatly cut, and was dressed in office formals. The first two buttons of his shirt were open, and a fine brush of hair lined his chest. I stared at him for a few seconds, although I tried to be discreet since I did not want to embarrass him or myself. From the corner of my eye I saw that he too stole a quick glance at me. Maybe it was my imagination, but I thought he wanted to say something to me.
The doors closed, and the train started moving out of the station. People started adjusting themselves into more comfortable positions, and I also shifted a bit to take a ‘vantage point’. I looked at him once again. There was no doubt that he was exceptionally good looking. I noticed that he had his metro card clutched in his hand, which I found amusing since he had so many pockets where he could have put it. I thought of telling him “you will drop the card” but decided it was none of my business.
The train started slowing down and it stopped with a jerk. It had stopped just outside the Qutub Minar station, where the train leaves the underground tunnel and ascends to the overhead tracks. I heard a soft voice beside me saying “Why did he have to stop the train on a slope?” I turned to my right, and it was he who had addressed this question. I don’t know if it was intended for me or he was thinking aloud, but I seized the opportunity to reply to him. I don’t remember what I said, but for a few minutes after that he kept smiling at me. I was going weak in the knees and had an urge to ask him his name, what he did, where he stayed and everything else about him. Most people in India are an inquisitive lot, and I was no exception! There is another problem with me – I am extremely shy and inhibited when it comes to ‘conversation openers’, specially with someone who I have taken a sudden liking to. It was no different this time.
The train jerked again, and the movement caused him to lose balance. He dropped his metro card and bent down to pick it up. He straightened himself and looked at me sheepishly. “I knew you were going to drop it,” I said. His face broke out into a thousand smiles when I said this. God, he was beautiful, almost like an angel. All I wanted was to just look at his face and see him smile, again and again and again.
The train continued its onward journey towards Gurgaon, and I kept hoping that I could at least ask him his name and anything else which would help me, at the very least, check his profile on Facebook, send him a friend request, get to know him better, ………… I was lost in my thoughts when I suddenly realized that he was no longer standing beside me. I had this sinking feeling all of a sudden, and started looking around to see if he was still there. To my relief I noticed that he had taken one of the seats which had become vacant, and I edged closer to the place where he was sitting. There was a seat vacant beside him, and I wished that he would ask me to sit beside him. He was probably a shy person like me, since no such invitation came my way.
The train slowed down and stopped, as it usually did, just outside HUDA City Centre station. Again the same soft voice – “Is there some problem that the train has stopped here now?” I looked at him, smiled, and asked him “Is this your first time to Gurgaon or this station?” “No,” he replied. “The train always stops here for a few seconds every day, which is why I asked if it was your first time to Gurgaon” I said. He looked at me and smiled again, as if trying to play along with me. If this was not his first visit to Gurgaon, why did he ask me this question? Was he trying to test me, or perhaps even tease me?
The train resumed its journey towards HUDA City Centre, and I was filled with a sense of sadness which engulfs a person when he has lost something he loved the most. How could I have this feeling for someone who I did not even know, let alone loved? Was it because of his innocence, his smile, and his angelic good looks? Or was it because I have always been alone and yearn for that one person to come and fill my life with love? I have no answer to this question.
The train reached its destination; he de-boarded and disappeared into the crowd. I was hoping he would turn back once and I would rush and ask him his name or anything else which would help me meet him again. I have never had any luck in such matters, and today was no different. He vanished from my life as suddenly as he had come, and I had this empty feeling which was making me feel sick.
For the next few days I reached the metro at different times, in the hope of meeting him once again. No such luck. Each time a train rolled into the station I would quickly start scanning all the coaches, praying to God to help me meet him once again. Why do some people come into our lives suddenly, change us forever, and then disappear, never to be seen again? Is there really no such thing as love at first sight, or in this case, love in the Delhi metro?