A 27 year old Indian guy should be married. Why? Because society said so. I obviously don’t agree with it because if I did, I wouldn’t be here writing this story. But I belong to a minority group. And over the years, I have been told many reasons why I should get married; from parents, friends, relatives, colleagues, random nobodies etc. Only few of them ever made any sense though, most of them were just rot thoughts passed on through generations upon generations. But then recently, I got one if the best ‘arguments’ yet!
So, I was travelling via train to my home town. I was minding my own business as usual and listening to music. I had every intention of avoiding any sort of conversation with nosy aunties or noisy kids. They get on my nerves easily because unlike other people travelling alone or most of the couples, they don’t keep to themselves and are almost always excessively curious and talkative.
And I was doing a good job of it that day, immersed in my music and leafing through that months Readers Digest. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no kids within my earshot and I distinctly remember thinking that it was too good to be true.
Everyone had finished dinner but were not yet ready to go to sleep. It is that uncertain passage of time where everyone is looking at each other to see who will be the first one to say “do you want to sleep now?”; this is one of those statements paraphrased as a question.
I had cocooned myself away in that sweet oblivion of music, wilfully ignorant of all that was happening around me. But I was rudely yanked out of it when the TTE came to speak to me. He had done his main rounds earlier, now it was time for him to take care of those humble requests passengers make when they want to switch to better seats.
The TTE politely asked “do you mind moving to another seat sir. There is this family who can be together if you move.” Now I had heard such requests many times before and therefore I wasn’t exactly convinced; so some family wants to stay together during a night of train journey. What, are they afraid to be apart by just a few seats??
Perhaps he could read the skepticism in my face because then he uttered those infamous words, words that went through my soul like a hot knife through butter; “You are the only bachelor here, travelling alone also. You are the only one I can ask and if you exchange your seats, the husband and wife can be together. They will be very happy if you do so.”
Those words took some to get processed in my brain, especially the ‘only bachelor here’ part. Slowly I looked up and around the compartment; all I could were couples and a few old guys. No youngster, guy or girl, was to be seen anywhere nearby. How is that even possible? Dumbfounded and at a loss for words, I realised that the TTE wasn’t kidding, I really was the only bachelor around. I felt like an alien at that very moment.
Dazed and confused, I somehow managed to mumble out a quiet “sure, no problem ” as I quickly picked up my stuff and proceeded to my new seat. Out of the corner of my eyes, I could see the grateful faces of the husband & wife but that barely registered in my brain which was Still reeling from the ‘only bachelor here’ part.