she settled more comfortably in her seat. the scene outside her window was changing rapidly. the trees went past her window just as quickly as brown patches of barren ground took over her sight, only to be replaced by a yet new scene. as the train gathered speed, so did her nerves. she loved train rides. it helped her confine her perspective to the sides of the window, only concentrating on a scene, one at a time, staying only for long enough for her to see. some of them stayed in her memory for her to ponder later while others went by leaving no imprint behind but a moment that passed without effort.
the train took a turn and she could see sights of outskirts of a village materializing. secluded huts, young and old men leaving for work, with a tired yet determined look on their face, a steel lunch box in hand and who knows what thoughts in their minds. the haphazardly strewn huts and shops were becoming more and more scattered.
monotony of brown and green was taking over her vision, only broken by an occasional bright yellow or pink of a bill board painted with bad drawings. she had always found such bill boards amusing. they were the true caricatures of life. the bill boards flaunted everything from a good engine oil for a tractor to a happy family of three in an advertisement for a local "baba's" magical healing powers. they confined lives and all its worries within their frames all with just a few names, bad drawing and catchy color combinations. names varied, their claims varied. bill boards remained the same 50"X60" bright colored blobs.
amongst the speeding names, she only caught a few when one of them caught her eye. 'Dr. Rajiv's dental clinic' it said. the name had been painted in a deep green over a yellow sheet of metal, with two sets of happy teeth drawn besides it. the name had been painted with casual disregard. the 'R' wasnt as twisted as it was supposed to be.
" hi, i am Rajiv" he said, with a warm smile, extending his hand. "hi, i am asha", she replied, smiling, taking his hand.
" i dont think he is as weird as you people think he is. i mean, sure he is a little quirky and says weird things sometimes but that doesnt make him any worse than rest of the guys. if anything, Rajiv has the ability to stand up for what he thinks is right" said Asha, fiercely to her friends. "yeah? like his own language that he writes his name in? its barely legible by standards of english" chimed one of her friends, as rest of them giggled even more. "he just puts a curved R. its almost artistic" Asha protested. they almost ignored her but stopped discussing him all the same. they had come back to the hot topic of class- what is the deal with the new guy in class, something everyone wondered but no one bothered to find out.
" why do you bother with what those people say? they dont know you. besides, who are they to you anyways? so it hardly matters what they think. forget it, Rajiv. cheer up. you still owe me that golgappa treat, remember? lets go for that. ice cream's on me" she said, standing up, extending her hand. he took it, smiling, just like she had, the first time they had met.
"i know. and i agree. i love you too. i didnt realize when or even why, but i liked your quirks. you are weird and weirdly, i like you for being so. did i say like? sorry. like doesnt begin to define what i feel. i love you. Rajiv. "
"why are you saying all this? whats wrong? you know i was kidding. how can you think i meant it?! its like you either dont know me at all or are refusing to see anything", she said, pleadingly. tears swam in her eyes and her hands shook. but she held it together. he stood there, with her back to her, refusing to see anything literally. " do you really have to go?" she asked, calmly. her voice indicated neither dread nor sorrow, just a plain question. "no. but i will go all the same" he said. "good bye, Rajiv" she said.
she blinked. the train was slowing down, it was a small stop, one of the thousands minor stations in India that are made out of nowhere really. Dr. Rajiv's smiling set of teeth had been left behind a long time ago. she shook her head ruefully. even after all this time...
some names would always have a story attached with them, forever, she thought. some names would always bring back images- good or bad, she realized. some names were meant to stay and not not just sift in and out of frames of memory. some names left a permanent imprint, she confessed...