The traveller who became a thief. 

25th Sep 2016

Most of us, when we speak of travel only consider to indulge in the utopian aspect and choose to completely shun those experiences that challenge our compassionate spirit. Travelling for a cause and travelling because you simply have to, you want to be in a constant state of motion are two independent modes of our subject. Not long ago, i was travelling from Bangalore to Ernakulam by Train. Sleeper class. I'm sure there are assholes who haven't travelled by trains, some of that blasted lot suffer from siderodromophobia, some believe the trains to be rather soiled and stained, i agree and some say they don't have time to waste. You know where to place yourself. A Passenger train has several compartments, each compartment is subdivided into sections and sections differ by their capacity to occupy people. A section in the sleeper class will have eight berths. Depending on the size of the your luggage, you can place it anywhere, under the berth, on the berth where you can substitute it for a pillow or even on the floor and block others path if you are into that sort of nonsense. I occupied an upper berth. The train departed at eight and my section of the compartment was almost full. There was a married couple and their one year old child, a beautiful woman in her late twenties eating a McDonald's wrap while listening to music and three friends trying to get her attention as they unfolded fantastic experiences of their youth. A few stations after we departed, a group of five politicians that included an elderly lady boarded the train. They had booked their tickets the day before and only one seat was confirmed. By ten, everybody prepared for deep sleep despite the continual screaming of the train. One of the lads, the protagonist of our story, that kind hearted and foolish bastard, whose tongue was longer than the train, his friends called him Tsunami, from what i heard, had the habit of being willingly reckless. Wow! i thought. He offered his berth to a politician comprehending his age to be in that range of his father. The other politicians offered their only seat to the elderly woman and she offered space for the others to sit which was strange seeing politicians being kind to one another. Tsunami now sat on the edge of his berth where the minister lay, snoring. The four politicians on one berth found it difficult to sleep, so engaged in a conversation with Tsunami who had validated his worth by sprinkling pity or kindness. They asked him about his education, his family ties, the reason for the journey he had undertaken, he and his friends were going for a party on an island resort in Alleppy. They bought him tea so he would have the energy to go on with his stories and they fired questions back and forth. By this time, i developed a craving to smoke. You should know it is a punishable offense to smoke in trains and that made it all the more exciting. I stood near the door, smoking, wondering why the night was so dark when the moon is so bright? I looked at the lone star and found my reflection. By this time, the conversations in the train combined by the noise of the engine, due to my innate fascination for silence, i longed to be underwater, i wished to be a fish, a shark. I lit my second cigarette after i scouted the space for railway police. I stared at black mountains, the conduit of the wind. My mind was in motion, i was searching for words to convey thought and my body was at rest even though it was at motion. I went back to the berth when the politicians were bragging about their meeting with the Karnataka chief minister. It was important for them to establish a opinion proportional to the sense of wonder, in Tsunami's head. Who knows why. I remember laughing when Tsunami said he believed in dictatorship. One of them, who was trying with all his might to close his eyes and forget the vertebral terrors of the night, awoke in shock. I had to hold back my laughter. A few moments later, The TTE (Train ticket examiner) like the lawyer wearing black and white, offered four seats to that group if they were willing to pay the penalty fee. They agreed. The seats were allocated in another compartment. Tsunami read it for them for they could not see in dark what was written on the ticket. Three of them made their way there and asked Tsunami to sleep on their extra berth. Tsunami declined their offer for he believed he would not wake up if he slept at such an hour and his friends would not know where he was either. They left. Our hero started listening to Music and after a while when his eyes became droopy. He woke up the politician sleeping on his berth and told him, i mean, TOLD him to go sleep with his friends in the other compartment. He obliged. That's it, i fell asleep. Next morning when i woke up, we were in Kerala, i could smell the rain in the air, i got down from my berth, went to the door, romanticized on the lush green trees and the red soil. Beauty, on passing by, appeared more beautiful. I went back to my seat and the lads were awake and were complaining about how Tsunami ruined everyone's night by incessant talking. Even that gorgeous woman whose attention they seeked, joined in to ridicule Tsunami's ability for conversation and community. The elderly woman woke up when a moving businessman, who was selling pirated books in trains entered our compartment, he handed over two books each to everyone. The elderly woman, unable to suffer anymore of talking, thought of buying one. She looked for her bag under her head but she could not find it. She started asking around and nobody had seen it. But Tsunami, aware of his powers of contemplation, raised his voice to present his hypothesis about the mystery of the missing bag. His reasoning went like this " I think i know what happened to bag, it was around four in the morning, i told your colleague to leave so i could sleep and eventually when i fell asleep, there was some guy sitting at the edge of my berth, i realised his presence when i kicked him in my sleep, i woke up and gestured an apology by waving my hand, he was listening to music and after five minutes when i opened my eyes, he was sitting on the berth opposite to mine, closer to your berth and now when i hear your bag is missing, i think it is him, he is the thief, i have read Sherlock holmes, cover to cover, these things happen all the time, find the missing person, you find the bag, as simple as that." The excitement in cracking the case was on his face and i didn't hesitate to laugh. The other politicians came around and started discussing the matter. They were talking about asking the chief minister to arrange India's secret service to investigate the case. Alas! all the bribe money was in the bag. So that option was ruled out. Later when their discussion came to an end, the guy who slept on Tsunami's berth called him aside and told Tsunami how he had a son of similar age and don't take it personal but they wished to see the contents in Tsunami's bag. Tsunami said " If you want to see what's in my bag, just ask, don't say i'm like your son and it is obvious you will doubt only the first person to help" . Saying so he opened his bag, they had to believe, there was only a few unwashed shirts and a knucklebuster. How do i know this? Tsunami has the habit of repeating whatever he said. He was a little embarrassed in front of the beautiful woman who was laughing along with his friends about how a joyful traveller incorporated the mindset of the cunning investigator and ended up being a suspect. Later when another politician asked Tsunami why he had to sleep and his sleep was the cause of the incident, he replied politely, "Fuck you, you demon ass bastard" . Later on when Tsunami was unloading another one of his stories to his friends, the beautiful woman asked him " Why do you speak so much?" "Oh i'm meeting my friends after two years". She replied "How lucky they are". A sarcastic underhand slap. She got off at Alwaye. I got down at Tripunithura, Ernakulam district. I longed to drink Toddy and eat shrimp.