“The day is too hot. It’s unbearable!” anguished Mr Sen, a commuter, aged fifty, fat, short, fair, well dressed, perfumed. He scratched his neck and caressed his square face with a sweat-sodden kerchief. His boots were immaculately polished and they glistened. Day’s daily he held before his stylish glasses and measured the hot headlines and murmured.
The train was yet to start. Passengers were pouring from all directions. Jamir, a mason, aged thirty, in soiled shirt and slippers fought at the gate with fellow passengers and somehow made his way into the train and sat next to Mr Sen. He kept his ragged bag on the bunker and heaved a sigh of relief.
“It’s too hot!’ Mr Sen reproachfully moaned while folding the paper, “the fan was whirring but no relief!”
Jamir gathered courage and hesitatingly said, “Take it and air, if you don’t mind, Sir.”
“Where you up to?” glowingly asked Mr Sen while fanning.
“What you do there?”
“We build beautiful houses, Sir.”
The train whistled and they were on the go. Hot air rushed through the windows and twinged the travellers. People fastened wet kerchiefs round their faces and beads of sweat decked their temples. Hawkers hawked cucumbers, melons, guavas, kulfis, (frozen dairy desserts), lassi, (dahi based Indian dish) packaged bottles, etc.
“It’s almost impossible to work in such a day. The sun has come down over head. Mercury soars to 45. People get sunstroke if such terrible heat continues for a couple of days more,” opined Mr Sen and added, “We have coolers at our office. So we get relief at least for the office hours. But you and the like….”
“What’s to do Sir? Heat or no heat, sun or no sun, daily we have to work. And with my labour I subsist six stomachs at home,” Jamir languidly said.
Sen’s mobile rang. He received and queried and instructed minute details for his upcoming summer holiday in hill locked Gangtok. The deal was settled. A confirmation message flashed on the screen and Mr. Sen looked extremely relieved. He beamed. Oh! Ice capped hills! Ice splattered valleys! The icy wind…winter jackets, gloves, woollen clothes to be bought and packed. Only a few days left! Time is fleeting….
The train jerked and Jamir hitched up.
“Karimganj, Sir. My leaf.”
“Oh! Sorry,” Mr. Sen handed over the palm leaf and briskly said, “Take care.”
“You too, Sir. Don’t forget warm clothes and catch no cold in Gangtok. The city is beautiful, neat and clean, and the weather is cool and the people are all butterflies! We stayed there for three years and made some beautiful houses. We had been whitish and we then dyed hair. Okay, Sir. Happy journey!”
Jamir with his palm leaf wriggled out of the blistering crowd and waved Mr. Sen adieu.
Abu Siddik is a writer, residing in Berhampore,West Bengal. He works as Assistant Professor in English in Plassey College, Nadia, West Bengal, India. He has contributed short stories and poems to various e-journals and anthologies. He has also published three books.