It’s been long.

“It’s platform no. 10 today. It was quite tiring coming here as I had to climb up stairs two storeys high and then walk all the way from platform 5 to 9, to finally reach platform no. 10. I did what I usually do. There wasn’t enough space to walk without any discomfort so I took a seat on a bench, already half occupied by a couple. I had to wait, like every day. Yesterday, I had waited on platform 9, and on platform 8, the day before. My body was already aching and my muscles were cramping but I had learnt to bear this pain. But my soul wasn’t tired. Nor did it give any symptom of getting tired any time soon.

The clock struck 5 in the evening, just an hour after I had to go home from work, only I had grown more habituated to these platforms than my bedrooms and they felt more like my home than any other place with room over and furniture in it. I suddenly heard the siren of a train approaching the station and the crowd gathering, just like sheep gather when the shepherd arrives, some wanting to board the train and some waiting to meet their acquaintances after a long wait. I belonged to the latter category of people. The wheels of the trains slowed down and I just knew somehow that it wasn’t the train I had been waiting for. The passengers started getting off the train, and the people on the platform started searching for people they knew. Some held hands to avoid the chance of getting lost in the crowd. I saw their eyes, so full of anxiety and desperation and the gleam that appeared in them when they caught their loved ones in the crowd. It made me happy, but saddened me more. My eyes caught the sight of a girl, around seventeen, standing beside me looking at the books in the book stall. She went to the book stall and bought ‘The fault in our stars’ by ‘John Green’. I thought it was nothing less than a cliché for a teen to buy a book that made you dream so much that after reading it, reality felt like a nightmare. It had been my favourite book once upon a time.

It had been five long years now. Five long years of waiting for a train that never came. For the last two years, since he had started breaking his promises a little too often, I had been coming here every day, looking at people, places and everything that nobody cared to look at. I knew the place so well, that I could tell you exactly how many washrooms this platform had, and which was the day on which the book vendor would change the books in the showcase of his shop. Every time a train arrived, I looked at the families, stuck together, helping each other to unload baggage from the train. And I felt devastated. A year ago family is what I had wanted and dreamt of having too. Not just any family, but one with him. We could have stayed anywhere, and I would have loved to call that ‘anywhere’ my home. Every time I smelled coffee brewing in a café somewhere on the station, I am reminded of his aroma, so strong yet impalpable. Every time someone bought the morning newspaper from the newspaper stand, I giggle at his habit, which I got habituated to, of telling me the news everyday while we ran to catch the bus so that we could reach the office on the right time. But then tears roll down my eyes, invisible to the crowd, but so wet to the skin. And every time, I see human beings with feelings in their eyes, skin red with warmth, actions by their limbs and words flowing out their mouths, I laugh at my incapability to express. I pity my weary body, but I laugh hard on my soul, vexed but not yet tired. I laugh hard because tomorrow it’ll be platform no. 11.”

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Ultimate happiness is homemade.

“I saw it. The most beautiful of smiles. I still wonder how could a simple human like me, be able to produce that on two other faces?
Whenever I see them, those pretty smiles, I feel that I’ve had the world. My little achievements, my happiness, all contributing into making that smile a little broader everytime. The smiles are my shelter on the rainy days. The forever stretched arms are what I’ll always be homesick for. The aloo ki sabzi and the chapati, never stale, is the food I still miss when I see pizza. The clothes crumpled in the cupboard and the unkempt bedroom remind me of the cloth hangers and the unslackened bedsheet of my own bedroom. The laptop beside the coffee cup reminds me of the common tv and the chai in the evening. I hear cars and peddlers and people, and I close my eyes, and there I remember the stillness of the air, the squad that used to gather on the terrace everyday, playing badminton even in the summers. And I see, my hand being pulled, to take me home as it gets dark. I resist but the force was strong enough. As I open my eyes, I see the sky getting darker and darker like some artist colouring his canvas with shades of grey and then finally black.

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And I start thinking about me, about us. This generation, of which I’m a part of, which is too afraid of commiting, too afraid of having something permanent, too afraid of having a family, too afraid, maybe a little too afraid. Amidst of the life we live, maybe we forget sometimes, that family is all we’ve got when we’ve got none. That in life, it’s important to be free, to fly but it’s necessary to have someone to hold your back whenever you’re tired of flying. It’s important to have a house, but it’s necessary to have a home. It’s good to be yours and only yours, but it’s beautiful to be someone’s.