Ved loved traveling by train. He enjoyed standing at the compartment door early in the morning. He would plug in his ear phones, listen to soothing music, and stand at the compartment door. He would keep his foot firm inside the threshold to avoid falling forward even if the train halted suddenly or there was a jolt.
Ved loved it better when the train reached a train station early in the morning. He would get his camera ready to take pictures and videos as the train would leave the train station. The dawn along with the moving train inspired him to capture some beautiful images.
Ved has been traveling for the last three months ever since Keerthana broke up with him. He could stay at one place as it reminded him of her. He decided to travel across the country and take as many pictures as possible for his work assignment. Earlier, when his boss asked him to travel across the country to take pictures of the entire India, he said that he did not want to travel leaving behind his girl friend as the company would only sponsor his trip. But, the moment they fought and broke up, he decided to take up the assignment and go. Fortunately, no one else was willing to go for the trip.
Ved tried forgetting her, in vain. He remembered her in the morning when cool breeze touched him. They used to go for jogging together when she was living with him. He used to enjoy those moments. He always believed that this was his life and she would be with him for the rest of this life.
Ved remembered Keerthana whenever he ate anything. She was choosy in her food and made sure that Ved also took care of his diet. He had a sensitive digestive system. He never had any health problem as long as she was living with him. Even when they ordered food from outside, she would make sure he ate only food that did not hurt his stomach. Ever since she broke up, Ved started getting those digestion problems again. He felt bad for fighting with her one day about the food restrictions. He realized that she did it for his well-being. He recollected the fact that his parents were also fussy about his food choices. But, he wanted to eat everything. He looked at the sky and apologized to God for not listening to his parents whenever they asked him to be careful about his food choices. He decided to go to his home town after this trip and spend some time with them. He has been avoiding going to his home town ever since his parents told him that they were not happy about his live-in relationship. His father suggested that Keerthana was a good girl and he should contemplate marriage sooner than later.
Keerthana almost came in front of eyes every time he washed his face or groomed himself. She took adequate care in getting him ready as though he was a little kid. Though he never liked it when she tried to impose, the output was always good and he looked lot better when she made some small suggestions.
In Bangalore, on the other hand, Keerthana’s brother, Shyam, came to live with her after she broke up with Ved. He was having trouble with the hostel food and requested to stay with his sister for some time. When Keerthana tried to impose food restrictions, he shouted at her and told her to mind her own business. It reminded her of the fight she had with Ved. He always listened to her. But, during rare occasions, he would crave for something. She was very strict and would not allow him. She compared Ved with her brother and realized that Ved was a lot better and that her brother was a rogue. She felt like running back to him. But, deep within, she decided to wait for some more time. This might just be because of the pangs of separation. There was a time when she felt that they were not at all made for each other. She wanted to wait and try forgetting him.
That evening, her brother Shyam came back from the salon with a disastrous hair cut. Keerthana hated it. She shouted at him and asked him if he was doing any drugs. Shyam shouted back at her and told her that he liked it and asked her not to bother with it, at all.
The next day, Keerthana asked her colleague Brinda, “Do you think I am a control freak? First, Ved told me and now Shyam. Everybody thinks I try to dominate their lives. Please be frank.”
Brinda heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Thank God, you brought up with topic. I wanted to tell you since the day you joined. You are such a control freak that you frighten people around you sometimes. Many of our colleagues have asked me to talk to you to chill down a bit. But, I was frightened our rapport would get damaged.”
Keerthana was surprised at the response she got. For a moment, it seemed that Ved was the only sensible person in her life. She walked out of the office without saying anything. She went to the terrace and started crying for Ved. She thought it would be better to get back to him. They never had any problems other than the fact that she was overdoing the controlling part and he never liked to be dominated by anyone.
After gaining control of her emotions, she walked back to her desk. She tried logging into some news websites to divert her attention. She was devastated when she came across the news that there was an earthquake in Nepal and norther parts of India. She checked her calendar and realized that Ved was supposed to be in North India at this point. She did not think twice before calling him. She kept on trying to reach him, in vain. His phone was not reachable.
Ved felt some tremors when the train stopped at a station. For a moment, he wished there was a bigger earthquake and he would have been dead in the earthquake. While everyone else in the compartment were trying to call their relatives, Ved did not want to bother anyone. His parents would not even know about these tremors, he thought. Keerthana came to his mind. But, he decided not to call her.
After an hour, Ved realized that it was a major earthquake. Most trains were getting delayed and there was a problem with all phone networks. He wanted to reach out to his parents and assure them of his safety. But, he did not get a chance to let them know. He was praying to God let them somehow know he was safe.
Ved spent the whole day thinking about Keerthana as he heard that they were expecting some more tremors. He wanted to talk to her once before dying in the earthquake. The train stopped in a desolate station after some time and there were remote chances of the train moving, people said.
Ved wanted to talk to his mother and Keerthana once.
Meanwhile, Keerthana called up Ved’s parents to check if they have heard from him. They told him that they are worried about him and they are traveling to Bangalore.
Ved’s parents and Keerthana decided to take a flight to Delhi that evening.
After nearly four hours, the train started again and it was meant to reach Delhi in a couple of hours. But, it took nearly five hours for that train to reach Delhi. Finally, Ved reached Delhi. His mobile phone battery was completely discharged. He decided to run to a public phone and call up his parents first.
Keerthana came to know from Ved’s office that he was on a train to Delhi. Keerthana and Ved’s parents rushed to the Delhi Train station immediately. They went to the train and could not find him anywhere.
The train station was crowded with panicking people because of the earthquakes. Though the tremors did not occur again, people were frightened.
Suddenly, everybody felt a strong tremor in the train station. Tears started rolling down Ved’s mother’s eyes and Keerthana’s eyes.
Ved gave up the idea of meeting them again. He wanted to talk to his parents and Keerthana for one last time and tell them that he loved them. Ved finally decided to gather some courage and step out of the train station. He hurriedly move among the frightened crowd towards the exit.
Ved’s mother’s vision was blurred because of the tears. She did not know what was happening. From within the blurred vision, she saw her son moving towards the exit. Without alerting her husband or Keerthana, she shouted, “Chintu, Chintu”
For a moment Ved wondered if he heard his mother’s voice from among the crowd. He might be hallucinating, he thought. When he heard the voice again, he was awestruck to see his parents and Keerthana. He was frightened for their safety, at once. He ran towards them and hugged his parents. He looked at Keerthana and said, “Sorry.”
Keerthana said, “I’m sorry. I should not have got your parents here and I should have not fought with you.”
Ved’s father said, “Did you guys fight? It did not seem at all like that. She was so worried about you all this while. And, the way you looked at her when you came here, I know that you missed her badly, too.”
Ved and Keerthana smiled at him and they all stepped out of the train station. They took the next flight to Bangalore.