Looking at that place a strange glimmer grew in my eye. There it was wrapped in layers of covers a fully furnished (as I would like to put it as) drawing room for us! There at one end of the platform where luggage to be transported was piled up. There were all sorts of packed goods beginning from the adornments of the drawing room, a motorcycle, machineries, and even carton loads of eggs, all waiting to board some train or the other to reach somewhere or the other. But we were not to board any train. We were not to go anywhere. We were to spend the night there. There in the station.
It was about eleven in the night then and the temperature had plummeted down aided by the gush of winter wind. Bijay and I settled under a dining table. A round wooden top with a stem at the centre of the bottom leading to a root like base, all of it wrapped with sack cloth, was a dining table among all the luggage. The round top was to be our roof for the night. Amlan sought refuge at a more open space close by on a hand cart which had a mattress of flattened carton boxes, his extra bit of fat probably helping him in insulation from the cold. Sleep was growing heavy but the settings were not conducive.
Train traffic during those days the was not heavy for that particular station, which resulted in no passenger trains arriving in the night. It was the rumble of the goods trains that interjected the night. There as we lay discussing various possibilities that were at our face tonight and the next day morning, I was wondering if we could have avoided the situation we were in. Would not it have been wiser to head back after not getting the ticket and closure of booking counter? Would not it have been more practical to come early in the morning? Would not it have been better in the first place to get some warm clothes? I knew that answering them would not lead to anything, but nevertheless we do have questions, for which there are no answers, don’t we?
Winter nights they say are longer and I could feel that. Every passing moment had its tell tale effect. Past one o clock in the night having half slept half awake all of us got off from where we were, for the cold was not letting us settle. We trudged along the cemented path to move to the front part of the station. Amlan and me decided to have a smoke, the logic being it helping in providing warmth, illogical but a general belief given the association with fire and smoke. The small cigarette finished in a few whiffs.
We discussed the situation all over again and reached at a conclusion that when in the following morning Siddharth arrives with other roommates of ours, they should get some warm clothes. We were missing the most cozy object in such nights, a nice warm blanket. Thus we decided to ask them to get blankets too. There was still some four hours for daybreak, and passing time seemed utterly difficult now. We were cold, we were tired, we were exhausted, we were bored. We moved about various parts of the station. A couple of hours passed. Some people started trickling by now to make a queue in the ticket counter to get tickets when the counter opens in the morning. Activities grew in the station and it was a relief to be discussing that and being a part of the activities.
A call was made to our roommates signaling that the time has come for them to start for the station. We got into the flurry of activities by now, looking for the man who would strike the deal of ensuring a berth in the air conditioned compartment for us. Such shady figures are usually easy to pick up, or rather it so happens that they pick you up. Such people are excellent face readers, who gauge your desperation, your worry and your urgency, just as simply as reading a newspaper. And thus a mutual cord strikes when the wanting meets with the provision. We met a couple of people who told once the counter opens they can obtain a ticket for us. Though we were convinced we could do it ourselves, we still wanted to believe, for this had been the purpose we had come all the way for. But we obtained tickets from the TTI of the train, as the train was travelling relatively empty. It was just a simple and short affair. Siddharth was finally to go home.
By this time the first rays of the sun reached the station. It was a sight to cherish. The reddish hue of the sun, in a cool, slightly misty, November morning is definitely a lovely sight but the emotions heightened with a long day of ordeal just made the sight breathtaking. With sun came the warmth too, slightly bettering our state of lull. And by six in the morning the cynosure of all the action arrived along with couple of roommates and with them relief material in the form of warm clothes and blankets for us who had just passed a night at the railway station…
Did it end at that? Well no. We saw him off. Travelled back covered with blankets in the auto rickshaw braving the cold morning wind. Slept till afternoon back in the room to wake up with sore throat and a bad cold which subsided only after due course of medication. All the experience, the ordeal, the travel, the excitement, the sleeplessness, the mission, and the fluctuating disappointment and elation, of that cool November night in Bangalore remains distinguishingly and distinctly etched in mind.