She was not bothered, unlike most girls…Girls who would feel annoyed by stares at them. Maybe she was used to the attention she was receiving, in that train bogey.
She sat in front of me with her head tilted, facing the window.
She pursed her lips together as she put her arms behind to untie her hair. With the hairclip sliding out smoothly off her hair, they fell on her shoulders like a silk cloth dropping down the smooth skin.
Her deep brown eyes caught mine looking at her. I looked elsewhere with an embarrassment. She kept her eyes fixed, though. And then looked at two other people sitting next to me and then back at me.
“So what’s on your mind? Wondering if I’m single? If I’m missing someone, every time I look outside the window? Or judging me if I’m a student or journalist or simply traveling alone?”
“No, I’m…am not. I was just you know…
“What? Staring at me like a creepy guy?”
“No. No.” I said, I wanted to tell her that I was indeed trying to read her mind, know her past. But people are taken aback when they realize that we might just be looking at them as a character for our next storyline. Being a writer is tough after all.
“Hey, chill! Don’t think so much. I was just kidding” she spoke watching me lost in my thoughts.
“Hmm…thank god…I didn’t want to be the creepy guy freaking out a pretty girl.”
“Pretty girl? You’re fast, mister. I hope you know that” she laughed and my heart skipped a beat watching her play with her hair & her smile.
“Huh yeah. Well, I’m Neil.” I put forward my hand.
“Jia..” she shook them with an ease.
“So what’s your story, Neil? Travelling alone? Going home or working hard for your long distance relationship? Or is it an impromptu journey to get some nice snaps with that camera in your lap?”
“Wow. You really do put people into categories, don’t you?” I said with a smirk.
“Well…kind of. But then I’m usually right. Although I do get blamed for it, yes…”She went on speaking before turning the topic back at me,
“You did not answer my question. So where are you headed?”
“Mussoorie. I am working on something. So going there for some research.”
“Woh! Pretty impressive, indeed. A secret project, hmm.”
“Yeah you can say that,” I said in a Jason Bourne style. It did not impress her much.
“Anyway, so I’m guessing it has something to with the town, and your camera right? Your project?” She raised one of her eyebrows and asked.
“Yes…you are close” I lied to the pretty girl. Because ‘telling some girl that you are a writer’ in the first meeting sounds desperate, was what my friend had advised. Although I always secretly wished to find a girl who loved writing and literature as much as I did.
“So, I’m guessing you chose Mussoorie for its setting.”
“Yes Jia, And I’m impressed. You are like an FBI interrogator.” I laughed as I said that.
“Thank you Neil, but I’m not done yet. So, I believe you are traveling there for the first time. Looking at your bag-pack I am saying so.”
“Yes, Miss secret agent. Yup, I am going there for the first time.”
She smiled and leaned back again. Maybe she felt she was talking too much to this stranger.
Honestly, I had already liked her. She was smart and charming. She knew what makes her look good. Her eyes, the way she blinked them as she smiled, her knowing what exactly was she talking about…all that made her stunningly attractive.
‘’You know what, it’s nice how we all do our own kind of special work, move from town to town and come across as strangers, like this.’’ She said playing with her hair.
‘’So, after this long round of interrogation, I’m still the creepy stranger?’’
‘’Haha, no you are not. I meant that it’s very unlikely to come across like-minded people. Probability is too less, isn’t it?’’
‘’It is, sadly. But I think it isn’t less enough for us stop believing in it’’ I said.
“It?” her aqua brown eyes waited for an answer.
‘’Well, you know. The faith…the belief that like-minded two do exist.’’
‘’Agree. I do” she said before continuing, “But Neil it is not easy to find that like-minded when you be so secretive about your project” she wore a smirk on her face now.
‘’Nothing secretive Jia, it is simply that I’m…’’
‘’I’m…I’ve got to get down. This is my stop” she said picking up her bag.
I got up feeling a bit disappointed that our long journey ended so fast.
I watched her walk away. Carrying her bag…all the way till she got down from the train and disappeared behind the crowd walking briskly on the platform.
I returned to my bogey which now wore a deserted look on its face in spite of 3 people sitting in it.
“Wow, strange it is! Why would such a pretty girl travel all alone inside this train? I mean, all that did really happen right?” I said to the girl passenger sitting next to me all this while.
“Yes, it did. And yes it is strange. But then writers are eccentric anyway.”
“What?’’ I exclaimed.
“Don’t you know her? Jia Shah! She was the author of the best-selling novel last year. I’ve heard she travels in these trains to get her stories. And congratulations, you might just feature in her next novel.’’
The train whistled as I gave out a sigh & looked outside the window. The train had gained speed again & I could see the platform fading away in distance.
I knew I had some unfinished business on my way back.
(To be continued…)