There I was a newly wedded bride, fresh as a new born rose on her way to her honeymoon. After all the rituals, greetings of long lost relatives and friends including the little irritations that often accompany the arrangements of any wedding, I was happy to leave all behind me so to say and spend some real ‘quality time’ with my husband who yes, like me was newly married too! Now, I thought that was funny! Our friends from Belgium were accompanying us too as they had come all the way from Belgium just to attend our wedding and we seemed obliged to take them around the country where they had studied for a while with their foreign origins quite obvious in their appearance and accent. We were happy to have them with us since we had seen them last a very long time ago.
Getting into a new relationship, especially that of a marriage can be quite mystifying, alluring and intoxicating all at once when one is just married. With all those emotions stashed within me we boarded the train. We made ourselves comfortable in our respective seats and began chatting, waiting for the train to begin its journey. Suddenly, my husband asked me whether I wanted some biscuits. I said, ‘Why not?’ Nothing like munching some good ol’ biscuits as we chugged along! The train showed its green signal and began its journey. I felt good as the train left behind people, stalls, luggage, etc as it signified a change in all that was mundane and ordinary for me. I was embarking on a new journey – the journey of marriage and it felt awesome to leave everything behind as I traveled on this new adventurous journey of love, passion, affection and joy.
Lost as I was in my thoughts, I did not hear my Belgium friend, Christine ask me, “Shail, where ez hee? I cain’t see heim enywhear.”
I realized that she was enquiring about my husband who if you remember had gone to get me a packet of biscuits. It was then that I realized, ‘Oh! Hubby dear wasn’t here!’ Surprisingly, I did not panic.
“Don’t worry Christine. You know he travels in our Indian trains every other day. He must have boarded some compartment. He’ll come soon. The train is quite a long one too.”
That convinced her but when some minutes had passed by and hubby did not seem to show any signs of appearing before us, Christine and her husband Peter couldn’t bear it anymore.
“Oh! Shail. I think saumetheeng haaz heipenned to heem. Whaiy ezn’t heee heeere aaz yeit?”
Remember, I was the newly married bride, not them.
Remember, I was the one going on the honeymoon. Not them.
“Oh! C’mon Christine. Peter, why don’t you tell her to stop worrying? Nothing’s wrong. This happens in India all the time. Nobody gets lost. He will be here soon.
But they didn’t seem convinced. Instead, the looks that they gave me when interpreted meant, ‘Silly girl. He is your husband. You’ve just married him. How can you not worry about him? Don’t you love him? What kind of stupid Indian girl are you?’
The train chugged along. Late evening was turning into night. And no dear newly married husband of mine in sight! With two friends with anxiety writ on their sparkling white faces and little blue eyes imagining god only knows what hidden dangers I had no other respite but to presume momentarily that Yes, maybe, something had gone wrong somewhere! By then the train had stopped at one local station and was proceeding towards another. Slowly, it chugged into another station. With two glum faced friends staring at me, I decided I would rather look out of the window and send out some invisible prayers to the Lord who had united us in holy matrimony. Maybe, that would help I thought or else, I could possibly try some telepathy. Wherever my husband was he would get my message and like Superman or Spiderman just barge into the compartment and holding me in his arms lovingly say, “How can I ever leave you Shail? How could you even think of such a thing?”
So, the train chugged into this station and suddenly I find a Ticket Collector or T.T. knock on my window.
“Madam, you….are….Mrs. Shaahel Raghu vamsi?
Knocked out of my momentary stupor I looked at him stupidly and said, “Yes?”
“Madam, pleeease come down with your friends also.”
A porter appeared from nowhere, took our luggage and we got down from the train that was to take me to my honeymoon. I still did not understand what was happening. The train left us and carried on with its journey. We were made to seat in the Station Master’s room. And then, I was told that yes, my husband had missed the train. So, could I wait till he caught another train to pick us up?
By the time, my husband reached the station and came up to me. One look at him and I burst into tears. Only then, did I realize how close I came to literally losing him in record time soon after marriage. And what about him? He had entered the station with the packet of biscuits only to see that cross sign on the last bogie of the train. His head reeled he later told us, “There goes my only wife..” He rushed out of the station, caught a taxi and like Rajesh Khanna following Sharmila Tagore in the parallel road singing “mere sapnoh ki rani kab aaeygi tu?” he asked the driver to catch the train. Of course, he wasn’t singing then. The air was filled with the despair of a newly married husband chasing a train on a four wheeler to catch his wife who was chugging away from him. He reached the next station, paid the driver, entered the station only to find the train steaming away again. He knew then, that approaching the railway authorities was the only way to trace his wife. So, that’s how he finally got around getting me and his poor anxious friends back.
You might wonder how I got around remembering this incident. Well, 23rd January happened to be the day we got married! And for the record, I have never touched that particular brand of biscuits again from that day.
Little Hearts, they were called. Sugary heart shaped biscuits in whose pursuit my heart got literally stolen away!