This time it happened on the train—
to Amritsar. I'd followed my usual habit
of checking out the reservation chart
for names of interesting co-passengers,
but didn't remember noticing any females.
So, when you walked in, I was taken aback:
tall, almost stately, with full hips
and ample bosom, you looked squarely
at me, even smiled. How did I miss you
in the chart? Of course, you were a sardarni
with a unisex name. Your dad had come to see
you off; his erect bearing, waxed moustache
suggested a military past. Formal by habit,
all he could say to his grown-up child was,
"Have a good trip and take care," in a slight
Punjabi accent. You smiled at him and,
when the train started, settled down. I sat
opposite, scarcely daring to look up,
so stirred was I by every movement of yours.
Though fully clothed it was as if you had
suddenly thought it fit secretly to unwrap
your inner self to a stranger on a moving
train. I hid behind a fashionable book
but was totally unnerved: from somewhere
between those crossed thighs, an undercurrent
seemed to surge in expanding waves or tides,
vibrating subtly like an overpowered engine
with a deceptively low hum; helpless, I felt
sucked into a whirlpool of swirling passions.
Just then I stole a furtive glance at you:
if nothing else, I thought a second look
would put an end to the illusion. Instead,
much to my confusion and discomfiture,
two stunning dark eyes, a straight long nose
and full red mouth, calmly returned my gaze.
You ate your dinner from a sandwich box brought
from home, then sucking delicately on a mint,
wiped your mouth carefully with a napkin.
The only thing I remember saying was,
"Do you want to sleep now or a little later?"
You smiled and indicated that you
too were tired. I clambered up to my perch,
but prepared myself for a long and restless night.
Throughout, I felt distracted, rocked by some
strong animal magnetism, rising up like steam
from the opposite berth underneath. From top,
when I spied you in the gray dawn I saw
a sleeping beauty, so unconsciously seductive,
so carelessly unaware of her oozing charms,
clothes half in disarray, bits of tantalizing
flesh, uncovered here and there, so available
to my lingering look, but so unattainable.
I laughed at my infatuation, celebrating its
nuanced uselessness: knowing this was all
I'd see of you, never getting any closer.
But at the very last moment, just before
the train pulled into the station, something
compelled you to strike up a conversation.
Soon, you'd discovered all that was worth
knowing about me, without, of course, giving
anything away, not even your name, in return.
When I explained that I'd come to see the
Golden Temple, you gave me a curious look,
then released me with these parting words:
"Have a good visit. I hope to see you again."
|Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape|