Kahani Filmy Hai!

He stepped into the compartment of my train from Churchgate to Andheri, at Bombay Central? Chomsky had been keeping me utterly engrossed on page 30 of Class Warfare, a book I began to flip through under unusual circumstances at a recent acquaintance's house and decided & requested to borrow soon after.

Back to my he. He stepped into the compartment and almost immediately I got the stare one usually does from travellers who see a woman sitting alone in a general compartment. Even in First Class. Unlike a Delhiite, this look is that of welcome surprise, not one that says, 'How dare you'.

The young man first chose to stand by the door right in front of me. Against the wind - though it was late enough and the weather has been forgiving enough for it to be comfortable under one of the fans. The seats were all empty except perhaps mine and the window spot on the other side. Sunday evening trains to Andheri work like that, I guess.

At Lower Parel, he moved to the door on the opposite side. His back, still technically against me.

Elphinstone went past and he walked to the outer corner seat closest to where he had stood. The thick railing of the entrance divided both our views of each other's faces partially. The eyes, particularly.

Dadar came, and he stood up from his seat and stepped down from the train. One is generally in a hurry to get a bus or a cab or an auto (if in the suburbs) in Mumbai as soon as the train so much as slows on the platform.

This square-faced man, in his powder-blue round neck tee-shirt and light blue jeans with a backpack slung behind, walked a few paces and turned around. He looked straight at me. I knew without looking. Looking yet, at least, anyway. Then I couldn't resist and had to look up. He eased his gaze to his right. I slid mine back down to my book. He turned around with great deliberation and slowly began to climb the stairs of the foot overbridge. I was curious. As if on cue, he stopped at the third step. Looked again. I did too. I don't know if I smiled as I looked away or afterwards, but the only thought that crossed my mind was - 'Bombay...' - and I shook my head like an old granny as the train trudged out of the station and sped its way towards Matunga.

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