Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Tea Seller

June had never been a forgiving month in Faizalabad. The trains, however, never stopped. Faizalabad was an important junction for the Central Railways. The hot winds which usually frolic on lands barren and dry all throughout the Indian summer, showed no mercy to the railway platform or the people who were scattered on it. Weaving his way among the unfortunate souls forced to travel in such weather, was Chandru.

Chandru had sold tea on the platform ever since his father had fallen victim to paralysis. That was fifteen years ago. The man in the dusty, tattered, brown shawl had been there on the day he made his debut on the platform. The man appeared, every morning when the first train came, and left when the last train had gone. Chandru's father had known him when he was a strapping young man of twenty-seven. He had been an engineer with the thermal power plant.

He sat on the wooden bench, as always, watching the tracks with searching eyes. His face contorted, asking a question to which he had still not found an answer. Chandru left a tumbler of tea and two slices of bread beside him every afternoon at twelve. He was already ten minutes late today, and so he hastened. Besides today, he had good news to give.

"Noor Chacha." He looked up at Chandru. Perhaps recognition found a place in his eyes for a lingering moment. "Noor Chacha, sorry for the delay, but there is so much to do at home. I am getting married tomorrow. I will take the tumbler later." If Chandru had waited an instant more before turning around, he would have seen it in his eyes. The euphoria of a love struck youth, however, must be forgiven at all times.

A day or two passed before Chandru returned to his work. He made his way to the wooden bench. He picked the tumbler up. The first train was yet to come. The early morning passengers would be here soon, so he turned around to run back to his stall. Something caught his foot. He looked down. It was a dusty, tattered, brown shawl.

No comments:

Post a Comment