FINALLY. A break. Three long months of gruelling exams and tests and submissions and deadlines and whatnot, I was finally out of my way-too-familiar city, and on my way to my aunt and uncle’s place in Gurgaon which is barely 30 kilometres from our notorious national capital, Delhi.
Now really, you’d expect me to travel covered head to toe, carry a Swiss knife with me, a can of pepper spray, emergency numbers on speed dial, spiked shoes, hairy stockings to ward off perverts and all that jazz.
But noooo, all I managed to do was to get my phone stolen one day before my month long vacation.
I was hoping IRCTC would flag down all females under the age of 30 travelling solo, and maybe assign them seats in compartments with other females and/or families and stuff. Guess what, IRCTC don’t give no daymn. And voila! I’m the lone double X chromosome carrier in a compartment full of 50+ balding men, save for this obnoxious Delhiite, newly-appointed Axis Bank manager fellow who kept yapping to every family member of his on the phone loudly (I know more about his life than I should).
And also this skinny fellow heading to Agra, who seemed to be of my age, but looked like he couldn’t stop a girl from getting molested (yes, I was paranoid).
So. With a steely resolve to NOT make eye contact with ANYONE, I quietly resigned to reading my novel (Handle With Care-Jodi Picoult), and kept hating the guy who stole my phone.
Come dinner-time, I’m trying to eat like I’m invisible, bothering no one at all. But one of the 50+ fatties tries helping me take my supper out without drenching myself in all the oils my mom so lovingly cooks her food in. He does it very cheerily, and I mumble a vague thanks.
Everything after that was fine. Not.
It was around 11 in the night, everyone had gone to bed, uncomfortably/comfortably (depending on their girth). I was on the lower berth, and the cheery fat balding 50+ guy was across me. I don’t know what woke me up suddenly at that time. I blearily looked around, and my blood turned to ice.
You know that pull-out food tray kinda thing trains have? The one in between two opposite berths? Yeah, that guy’s arm was on it. And I’m wondering *who even does this? What joy does one get stretching limbs like this? This is very odd. Should I be worried?*
His fingers make an odd groping movement.
Oh fuck. *Yes, I should be.*
Let me tell you, my eyes are pretty large. And when I’m tense, they can rival those of a squid. So picture this. A tense young woman lying down, sheets pulled up to her eyes. A CREEPY AS FUCK fat balding 50+ guy almost reaching out to her face from a berth that’s barely 4 feet away. Darkness all around.
He kept doing that for quite a while. My mind was racing. In the beginning, I gave him the benefit of doubt and thought *Okay so what, some people sleepwalk, sleep-text, and well… sleep-grab* But then he would shift slightly, take his arm back, and then stretch it again; farther every time. This one time, it was TOUCHING MY BERTH. Which is to say, TOUCHING THE SHEET THAT WAS SPREAD UNDERNEATH ME. Which is also to say, MILLIMETRES FROM TOUCHING ME.
*Ooookay. This has gone far enough.*
I got up to make sure he saw me shift, and then finally raise myself on an elbow. I grumbled “what the fuck is going on? Aap kar kya rahe ho? (What are you trying to do?)” Needless to say, his arm was gone in a flash. I kept staring at him in the dark, I don’t know if he was looking back (I had no glasses on). I lay down again, my heart hammering against my ribs, I waited to see what would happen. He turned his back to me. I relaxed slightly, but kept a watch nevertheless. I don’t know when I dozed off.
In the morning around 5, I woke up and saw the creep along with 4 of his companions get off at Gulbarga station. I followed the fucker with my eyes, glaring with as much disgust as possible. I kinda regret not making a scene and complaining about him to someone, but then again, I was alone, and it never got to the point where he did something. So well… *shrugs*
AFTER that everything was a breeze. I reached Gurgaon safely, looking like an overcooked pizza. Thanks to Delhi’s climate. My cousins joined two days later, and we had a gala time no matter what we did. From making breakfast, to going to a theme park via the Metro, looking like excited budgies and pointing and snickering at the eccentric crowd in Metros.
Oh, and my sister? She’s crack. She puts on this गंवार (village-like. Crude) Marwadi accent and sends us all rolling on the floor. One fine evening, she put on a mother-daughter act, I became her ‘laadesar’ (adored daughter) and she, my orthodox ‘maasa’ (mother). My brother quietly recorded the whole thing, and I’m ITCHING to make it public.
But my aunt says my sister and I will have a hard time finding husbands if anyone saw that. Nobody has a sense of humor in this family, I tell you.
But really, I’ve had a WONDERFUL time! So much sunshine, all the prancing around in itty bitty shorts, all the eating out, the shopping (my brother = pro bargainer = best shopping mate), the family gossip sessions, the fresh change of reading graffiti in Hindi than in Kannada,
the heart-to-heart talks with my sister till 3 in the morning, trying to decipher what my 2 year old sister (my aunt and uncle’s daughter) is trying to say (I could write an entire post about her antics). This vacation is turning out to be more than I thought it would be.
I leave in five days, and I’m packed with an arsenal of memories, and the new stuff I brought, and all the stuff my mom wants, aaand an impending backache from all the luggage lugging, no doubt.
Happy vacations everyone!