I was enjoying the strong sense of independence that came along with my first job. The first buck that I earned, staying miles away from home, not chaperoned by my mother or the hostel warden - staying all by myself in a flat, I was my own responsibility. To add to the sense of liberation was the travel that came along with my job. I was on tours for almost half of the month, not to swanky metropolitan cities but to quaint little towns where flights would not always reach. Trains and buses were my second home now, many a happy memory was made on those journeys. One such journey was when I met Farhaz…
I made myself comfortable on my side lower berth, flipping through a month old Cosmo that I’d bought at the platform. The train from Ajmer to Delhi had barely started moving when a guy approached me and asked, “Is this 16?”
“This is my seat,” he said with a smile.
I was still flipping through my Cosmo while he settled in and sat on the seat opposite to mine.
After having scrolled through his phone aimlessly for a while and peering through the huge train window but to no avail (the night was falling and nothing outside was visible) he asked, “Can I borrow your magazine?”
I looked up at him puzzled, showed him the cover of my magazine. “Really?”
We both laughed.
“Well, that was awkward! I didn’t realize what you were reading…sorry for that! My name is Farhaz, by the way.”
And that’s how a mundane train journey became interesting for me.
We spoke about train journeys, Ajmer, Delhi. I was being cautious about not revealing more than my name to a person I’d barely met a couple of hours earlier, and Farhaz - probably understanding that - didn’t pry much. There was something about him that struck me, though. He was not like the regular boys I am used to going out on dates with. He was not pompous, he did not talk to me about his love for gadgets or trance music. We discovered our mutual love for ghazals and spent hours discussing that.
Suddenly, the TC arrived to check tickets, I produced mine. The TC then turned to Farhaz; he produced his ticket with his ID. I saw his passport in the hands of the TC and I noticed the words “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” on it. That’s when I realized Farhaz was a not an Indian. It didn’t bother me much, but it explained the odd questions about things that I presumed were general knowledge.
We spoke till late in the night and then retired since we were due for our respective destinations early in the morning.
In the morning, the train was due at his station half an hour before mine. We were sitting next to each, other sipping our morning tea and reminiscing last night’s conversation. Soon his station came, and he was gathering his stuff to get off the train. We said our goodbyes and he was about to leave, when he thought for a moment, wrote his number on a piece of paper and gave it to me.
it felt so Darcy-esque!! In this day of technology, who gives their phone numbers on a piece of paper? But he did! I was charmed…He was too much of a gentleman to ask for mine.
“I hope you will call,” he said and left.
It’s been a year since that day. I still have Farhaz’s number in my wallet, but I have never dared to call - for I am not a dreamy-eyed teenager waiting for her Prince Charming. I am a strong, independent woman who gives much more weight to practicality than anything else. I know nothing more than a whirlwind affair is possible with Farhaz, with the miles of distance between us. How would things look like in the long term? Would we visit each other? Would we move cities? Countries? Leave our cushy jobs? Change our lives?
I couldn’t come up with feasible answers. And if I get involved with him, I will get emotionally attached and it will end badly. A sweet memory that I now cherish may turn into a nightmare, and I don’t have the courage to take that chance against so many odds.
God only knows how many times I’ve sat by my bedroom window, with the number clutched in my hand, not being able to make that call.
I wish I had the courage to call him up and see where it goes, but I don’t. I only hope that I am making the right choice and won’t regret it.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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Published on Oct 19, 2015