The article by Coelho spoke about someone who missed a good chance to speak to a long lost friend and then regretted that for the rest of his life..for life seldom gives second chances.
I boarded the train in the middle of a working day at Bangalore Cant. I was looking forward to the 6 hour journey to Chennai - not having to think about work, read Paulo Coelho's book and contemplate life and Civ Rev rather than engage in pretentious banter with my fellow passengers - an old couple and a family of 3. But there was something familiar about that aunty.
The fashion parade in the train started.. Flower vendors, blind man, vegetables, Masala dosa, blind man 2, Peanuts, Chips, blind man 3, return of the blind man and so on in a never ending line. Surprising, the number of blind men on the train.
The old lady must have felt she was in the middle of T Nagar and was buying from every other vendor much to the inconvenience of her methodical husband, who found his careful calculations - change for the auto, bus etc. methodically torn apart by his wife's insistence in propping up our ailing economy starting with the train.
The family of 3 - something still very familiar about the aunty - were also paying obeisance to all the vendors. Especially their college going daughter - always happy to greet a vendor and inquire about his / her wares. Her father - a nice gentleman indulged his daughter without any complaints whatsoever.
Should I ask the aunty? But how do I broach the subject...well, chuck it and let me get back to the book.
In this article, Coelho spoke about a pastor who suddenly had the urge to preach in the middle of a bus journey and despite a lot of misgivings did so which was appreciated by all the passengers. All went home happy.
The train neared Katpadi junction - home of the venerable old Christian Medical College (CMC) where I was born, grew up as a kid, almost died as a teenager and came back to life. The family of 3 were planning to get down here. Now this confirmed my suspicion that I might know that aunty after all.
Shall I ask her? hmmm.. well what if she was not the one. Ok Mr. Coelho here I come.
The next article spoke about how an young man saw a poor lady.. he wanted to help her but then went on with life.. but that incident burned him so much that he had to come back in search of that lady and give her all he had..It was only after that he found peace.
The family was getting things ready. The uncle went to the door and the daughter was ferrying the luggage to and fro while the aunty kept watch.
Should I speak to my mom on the phone and mention CMC loudly? Maybe that aunty would recognize. Almost took my phone out but then I just could not get to carry out the charade.
Coelho as an young man goes to a town and was asked to buy a book which he rejects at that time. But then it irks him so badly, maybe he should have just got it and helped that person - a pastor rather than miss a chance. He goes back after many years and realizes that pastor is no more.. Only if he had seized the chance that day.
Well just do it...was what the book was saying. And I better do it. Better late than never and whats there to loose.
The train was slowing down to enter Katpadi junction.
Well come on bozo.. just ask her. Isn't that what you have been reading all day!!
Summoning all my courage, I asked "Aunty,are you in any way associated with CMC?" (Now I realize that must have been a really dumb question.."associated" bah.. was I doing a formal interview!!)
"Well yes.. I studied there"
Bingo! That was a good sign. Phase 1 passed!
"My dad studied there too"
"Who?" and I mentioned his name and my mom's.
She gave me one tight slap on my shoulder.
"You.. you wait all this while to tell me that you are their son.. Didnt you recognize me? WHen I saw you, you looked different. You are just like that father of yours.. sit simply till I have to get down and then tell me. Well at least you told me now."
She called her husband.. her daughter (who happened to know my mom very well and also my sis - "your mom is my chat friend!!"). In fact there was a mini rejoicing with aunty telling the other passengers also that I was her classmates son and she was so happy to see me after so long.
The train reached Katpadi and finally they got down. After waving goodbyes and promises to convey their regards to my paretns, I went back to my book and opened a page at random.
That article by Coelho spoke about someone who missed a good chance to speak to a long lost friend and then regretted that for the rest of his life..
I was now at peace!