Odyssey

I boarded the cab preparing myself for another hour long dull and drab journey pitching into my comfort zone of my playlist. Usually my 'touring' party of cabmates leave me as the last guy to get down from the cab. My place being like 20 plus kms away from office, i usually get down the last, having visited half of chennai, courtesy my travel desk for whom i am like thengai in kerala cuisine. They would fit me on any route and would  argue that, its the shortest route to my place. This one was no different, atleast to begin with.

The first surprise was that i was the one to get down first. Those who commute by office cab will vouch for me,  for they can realise the joy of getting down first and the pain of a long distance commute. There were 2 other people, who were my cabmates for the day and one of them happened to be a short term acquaintance i had picked in this new office. Since there is always a standing policy that ladies should never be the last to get down i checked with her if she is fine with the route as hers was the last drop. The guy who was silent till that time, actually carrying a quizzical look, asked her politely, "Excuse me, arent you Stephen's sister?"
Now it was the turn of the lady to takeover the frown. The "yeah" which followed was more of a "who-the-heck-are-you-and-how-the-heck-you-know-me?"
"You people were living in Gopalapuram right?"
Now the lady became somewhat interested with a curious bewilderment.
"I've come to your house many times. Your elder sister still works for ABC inc??"
Without realising she began to respond to the conversation "No. She moved out to another company few years back"
"Oh..thats great. Hows your elder bro..still at the same place?"
"Yeah" She was still unable to ask the question camped at the tip of her tongue - "who the hell are you?"
"Dont you remember me? I used to come and pick Stephen to college everyday"
"Is it? I knew almost all his friends..sorry couldnt recollect you"
"Hahaha..not a problem. Hows Stephen"
"You know him right.. usual dreamy self". (Something on her tone made me felt that either she cares less about this Stephen person or their age difference is not much or she finds him more comfortable than her other sibling(s) possibly, for her tone was more friendly while talking about her brother. I was proved right soon)
"Been a while since i spoke to him..last i had a chat with him was on Facebook..when i was in US. After i came to India didnt had a chance to meet him"
"Oh...cool"
There was a studied silence from both of them which was broke by him.
"Does he still play cricket?"
"Hey....now i remember..you used to come to our house in track suits right?"
He grinned and said "Yeah.."
"Couldnt recognise you in formals and ofcourse you've put on weight"
"hahaha..blame it on lack of match practice. We used to slog in 45 degree sun plaiyng 50 over matches..getting up at 4 in the morning to reach college by 5...antha fitnesslaam poachu"
"Yeah..Stephen used to be crazy about cricket"
"Had we known that things like IPL and all will come in future..we would've continued with cricket. I thought Stephen always followed it more vigorously"
"Yeah..he did. It was our elder brother who forced him to take up MBA and sent him abroad. You know what, the day after he left there was a letter from TN govt inviting him to take part in the Ranji team for TN. I feel sorry for not supporting him that time and siding with our elder brother."
"Oh that would've been heartbreaking isnt it. Sheer bad luck."(By this time this Stephen character has assumed the role of a tragic movie hero on my head and wanted to know more about that person)
"You know both of us had joined college on sports quota. And though the entry was easier..how many humiliations we had to suffer and how many days we had to stand outside the principal and P.T office for want of letter accrediting points for us to appear for exams, despite helping the college to win many a cups. We never took any of those issues to heart for there was only thing on our mind, playing cricket"
I was so engrossed on their conversation that, i almost felt a part of the story by now.

That guy then rattled on names of almost all his classmates and was inquiring whether she knew any of them.  Since most of them happened to be their team mates from cricket and having visited Stephen's house, she seemed to be aware of majority of them. This made me more curious about the Stephen character. He sounded just perfect for a loser hero, who had been deprived off his passion and has been sent to rot in the routine monotonous world, having been robbed off the one thing on his life where he could've made a difference.

"Hey..i thought you were into Bio something..how come into IT now?"
She smiled at him "wow..you seem to remember everything. Yeah. I wanted to do masters in Zoology..but ended up here."
"Not a bad place to end up i should say"
"Definitely.. No regrets. Same with Stephen...my bro pushed me to take up Bio tech..i was steadfast in taking up my masters from UK..but that damn bomb blast screwed up everything. Even without my consent..they filled up forms for me and got me admitted into a course. I gritted my teeth and survived through the first year. But decided enough is enough and told my bro that i want to live my life my way and took up a diploma course and here i am"
"Brave decision i should say. Stephen cant get a job here? "
"I tried..but they rejected him saying he is over qualified"
"hahaha..hey..should we take the bridge or go under it? are you familiar with this route?" he asked me.
I was so immersed into their story that i didnt realise that he was posing the question to me "err..No. we shouldnt take the bridge.." and explained the route to the driver.
"Sorry..i couldnt help but overhear your conversation..just curious..how long you studied your under graduation?" i asked him.
"Three years..why?!!" he asked with wonderment
"Illa..you seem to remember the entire attendance register of your college..thats why"
"hahahaa..no man. sports is such a bonding factor..anyone who had been part of a team in college would be known or would know almost all the other people. It provides us the chance to interact so much and so many incidents and experiences add up to the list which makes them all the more memorable"
There was a momentary silence.
"Hey..does Stephen has your number" asked she.
"Dont think so..i have changed it after coming back from US"
"Can you tell me your number. Stephen would blast me if i tell about meeting you and not getting your number. Hey forgot to ask you..what are you now? Doesnt look like you are into cricket" she added with a grin pointing to his bulky figure.
"Yeah...i had to choose between cricket and career and i chose the latter. Family pressurenulaam solla maaten. It felt a safer choice at that time. Cricket can be played anytime but career..cant be played around with. But i always was jealous of Stephen. He was still playing when i decided to take a break. I was hoping to see him donning national colours some day. But guess life had different plans for all of us"

By that time..my drop point came. For the first time i felt bad for getting down first. There were so many questions raging on mind about Stephen, that guy and that lady, both whose lives were a study of stark contrast. While both budged to peer/parental pressure and bowed to decisions taken for them, one succumbed to it while other resisted and came up trumps after initial hiccups. In a span of an hour's journey, felt as if i had traveled through the lives of 3 people, all along through their successes and failures and i couldnt help but to compare my own life with them.

Guess there is more than one person created from the same mould of God's debris.

Comments

Ramesh said…
There are some joys in living 20kms away from office :)

The story is exactly why India rarely produces world class sportsmen.
Asha said…
I have this friend who always enjoys what she has on hand and never regrets about anything.

She turns any negative incident into positive.

Every body can't be her but there are times when i try to be like her and see the rosy side of things.

every parent wants a safe and secure life for their child and perhaps studies are the best bet when it comes to our country. Why, even Anand prefers to stay in spain. or see the case of ilavazhagi.
very enjoyable story.very nice
Prodip said…
Thank you for your blog.................
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gils said…
@thala:

:) yuppu..it sure does have its own pluses

@asha:

ilavazhagi?? yaar athu??
gils said…
@uncanny:

:) intriguing isnt it :)

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