I hastily walked in once the doors slided open. I didn’t expect to see any familiar face in there. For almost an year, I’ve been walking through these doors, but never have I encountered anyone who looked even remotely close to anyone I know. I was most disinterested and the thought of going back home no more cheers me up like it used to an year ago. It was a completely new place. I think I had gotten adjusted to this life the very second I got here. That is, if spending every single day that’s not a tad different from the previous one, living in sheer monotony, can possibly come up with something to adjust to, which it never has. Well, never until today. Today was different. As I walked through the doors, I had nothing much to think about. hmm.. Not true. The overwhelming thought of getting a seat, which was an indispensible part of my routine, never fails me. It takes more than skill or luck to slide your way through, sans pushing or foot-stamping, and finally obtain that empty seat. Today also, I got to win! It is amazing how the shallow, fleeting excitement from these little things constitute an integral contribution to my daily dose of adrenalin rush. For a person who used to live on the edge, this ought to be hell. Surprisingly, I did not care enough. My life had become this. And I will live it till my last breath, no matter what. This, I say after eradicating all traces of optimism that could be contained in or between those words. I say it only because of the numbness that the cruelty of my own past has imposed on me.
The numbness didn’t keep me from smiling at her. As she smiled back, I noticed that her eyes were not as wide as mine. Neither was she drunk with awe like me. She seemed composed, even when I was sitting right next to her. But I was getting the greatest adrenalin rush than any that I had gotten in the last one year, or all of them combined. It was probably like saving all the seats in that goddamn metro train before anyone sits on any of them. I tried to see whether she was looking at me. She wasn’t. She was looking down. There is nothing more emotionally hurting than a break up that didn’t go well, especially when you were the only one who didn’t want it. I asked her how she was. She was pressing buttons on her PDA, and her answer was nothing more than a casual facial expression and shoulder-shrug that conveyed “What can I say..”. I told her that I moved here an year ago, and that I’ve been taking this train everyday to my office and back. I also said that I’ve never chanced upon anyone I knew, although I had been living here for an year. Well that wouldn’t have actually happened if I hadn’t left it to chance to meet them. I was shut off from all sorts of communication with my friends. I talk to my family, not often though. I don’t have friends at the office. I kept myself aloof from the mingling. I said that the weather over here is very nice, and that I’ve started to really like it here. I mentioned my favorite restaurant and the place I go to buy groceries from. I mentioned the places in the city which I thought were simply beautiful. I glanced around and said that the rush was lesser that evening, and that’s when I realized that I have to stop babbling. She didn’t respond to anything, not even a tiny twitch of a facial muscle. She kept pressing the buttons. I saw the guy who was sitting next to her. He was sleeping. How can you possibly sleep next to a girl who looks as pretty as her? And here I am, on the other side, trying to build up a conversation with the only girl I’ve ever loved, and who at some point of time, did love me too. I told her that it has not been the same since we broke up, that the break-up made a major change in my lifestyle. I told her that she looked really good that day. Then, I told her that I’ve missed her.
Approximately ten minutes later, words finally stopped coming out of my mouth. And after about two minutes of silence, silence pertaining to my mouth and hers alone, I asked her whether she was never gonna reply. And she stopped pressing the buttons. She looked at me, the same way she looked at me an year ago, before walking out on me. I craved to hear her say, “I’ve missed you”. Like always, she let me down. She said, “This is my stop” and got up. For one moment, I thought she stopped pressing those buttons because of me; to answer my questions; to satisfy my cravings. To know right now whether I would have asked her if I could see her again, or whether she’s living in the same city, or any other hopeful questions, I should have needed sufficent time in between her “This is my stop” and another unexpected gesture. My mind went totally blank with that last gesture. She awakened the man who was sleeping next to her, by gently patting on his cheek. As soon as the doors slided open, both of them walked out of the train, leaving a miserable me inside, still sitting on the seat that I saved, with two empty ones next to me. She did not say goodbye, and she did not turn back to look. Now I know why he could sleep sitting next to her. She belonged to him, that’s why he can sleep so peacefully, even inside a crowded metro train. The doors slided close again.