“How do you find your husband, dear?” asked mom to Jaya over phone. Jaya was in Hyderabad after marriage.
The newlywed Jaya giggled and said shyly, “He’s good, mom. I like him a lot.”
“That’s nice to hear,” said mom.
“Only that he has one or two annoying habits…nothing important-will tell you when we meet next. And ha… he is coming over to Chennai alone next week on some official work…you can meet him then.”
“Sure. We will receive Pradeep at the station.”
Pradeep looked around the three tier A/c compartment with irritation. He hated three tiers-they were so full of people of every description-There was this large old lady with a large three storied tiffin carrier enough probably for the whole coach. She was accompanied by an immensely fat boy who kept looking longingly at the tiffin carrier. The appetizing smells emanating from there annoyed Pradeep even more as Jaya’s frugal dinner had already evaporated from his tummy.
Luckily Pradeep got a lower berth which he was determined not to exchange with anyone this time-however senior the citizen be.
Just as he was curling up with a book, he heard someone call, “Saaaar!” He looked up and saw that the tiffin carrier lady was addressing him…The fat boy had meanwhile practically emptied the carrier contents and was looking ruefully like Alexander who thought he had no more places to conquer.
“Saar, can you please exchange your lower berth with the middle one above you? My son has a problem…?
“What! Exchange with that young fellow! Never! Forget it,” Pradeep almost shouted.
“Okay saaar, no need to shout,” said the lady, giving him a strange look. Pradeep felt a strange sense of premonition as the lady’s look seemed to imply, ‘Don’t say I didn’t warn you.’
Finally lights were out and most passengers went to sleep. The train would reach Chennai in the early hours if on time. Some were busy with their smarties. The fat boy took position above Pradeep’s berth after giving him an ugly look. The middle berth groaned and protested, but to Pradeep’s relief, didn’t collapse on him.
As the night advanced, the train picked up speed and the passengers were sound asleep, Pradeep included. The latter dreamt that he was in the bathroom of a five star hotel enjoying a good shower. It was almost dawn when he saw the dream and it felt so real that he woke up with a start. Then he realized in shock that the ‘shower’ was indeed from the berth above!
Now Pradeep understood the quaint look given by the fat boy’s mother! When Pradeep examined himself, he was further horrified to see that the wetness was exactly where it would have been had he himself---ugh! The boy’s aim was so perfect as though he had taken help of GPS!
There was no time for any ‘corrective action’ as the train was already approaching Chennai station. Pradeep cursed himself for preferring to wear a short, smart modern shirt which reached up to his waist only-With Jaya’s parents already on the prowl looking for him on the platform, he knew there was no place to hide.
After receiving their son-in-law, Jaya’s parents were walking behind him as he went ahead carrying his briefcase.
“Did you see…?” asked Jaya’s mom as her husband hastily silenced her; “Shhh… be careful, he’s gonna hear!” said he and whispered, “I had a quick discreet glance- This must certainly be one of the problems annoying Jaya!”