Friend in the Mangalore Express

Posted on April 19, 2008. Filed under: friends, train | Tags: , , |

Apr 10, Kuttipuram, Kerala. I entered the railway station at 6 in the evening. I was returning back to Chennai after attending my cousin’s marriage. Thanks to Sarath – a cousin of mine, I got a sleeper class ticket in the Mangalore Express. My backup plan was to take a bus to Coimbatore & board the Nilgiri Express. Luckily I didnt have to do that. My train which was scheduled to depart at 6:48 was running late by 20 minutes. It was a lazy, almost empty station. The train chugged in at 7:15 PM. I waved my cousin and uncle goodbye and got in.

My Seat No was 71. I found it already occupied by a elderly lady. She was dressed in a simple, neatly pressed saree, had silvery white hair and strikingly clear eyes. It turned out that her Seat Number was 72 which was the upper berth. I readily agreed to switch seats.

I tucked the luggage in the berth and settled down near the window beside her. We got introduced to each other. I told her about where I work & live in Chennai, why I was here etc.. She also told about herself. She was a retired teacher from a school in Tirur. She was travelling to Chennai to meet her brother. Her trip too was unplanned and felt lucky to get tickets on the day of travel.

We talked on a lot of things. She taught English and Social Science in school. She talked with pride about her students who’re now working in top companies throughout the world. She told me about her students who have been to the IITS, IIMS and other top universities. Her eyes were gleaming when she recalled instances when students called her up and shared moments of their successes. We even talked about the current education system, how the teacher-student relationship has changed, school drop-outs which she had witnessed in her career. We talked about our families. We talked about the books we read. She is a regular reader of Reader’s Digest for the last 26 years which is a year and a half more than my age :D.

Over the conversation, we discovered that our homes were very near. Only about a kilometre apart. She was able to name even our neighbour’s house name. The train crossed the Palakkad Station. We wished each other good night and went to sleep. She woke me up when the train reach the Central Station in Chennai. I helped her out of the station with her luggage. She thanked me all the way. So humble, I thought. I then wished her bye and left. It felt good to have made a friend. Hope our lives cross again.

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