This entry was originally written as part of Katha Utsav and has been published here in partnership with Katha .

The nineteen year old Maya was hectically looking for her tennis bag. Aggressively pacing around the room, shouting for the maids. Her voice drowned out on their own in the empty apartment. Her driver calls out to her, asking her to hurry for her class, the ear box irritating her even further. The power seemed to be out, neither the AC nor the fan seemed to work. The scorching heat and the bright sunlight seeping through the window. Maya was already covered in sweat. Then the phone rang…RING!!!RING!!! the blaring sound of the receiver frustrated her even further. With a groan escaping her lips she hesitantly inches towards the phone. In no mood to entertain anyone. Picking up the phone, she said “Hello?!” trying to sound as rude as possible. She hears a lot of shuffling on the other end, and then a cough, Maya gasps. It was her, it was her granny. “How are you?” the voice asked, and that was enough to send her tumbling down to her feet, a single droplet of tear escapes her eyes. She had forgotten all about such an important aspect of her life, she was so lost in her new friends and college, she forgot her old connection. Suddenly, it’s like she can’t feel the head, the horn or the driver. It felt as though she was back in Darjeeling, at the train station.

She remembered it like it was yesterday. She remembered her grandmother’s wrinkly gaunt hands tightly clutching her small chubby ones. The fog enveloping them. The familiar sound of the passengers bickering cycles clanking together, the shouts of the coal beyond the giggling of the women behind her. She remembered her granny anxiously looking around the main station. She remembered now the wrinkles on her forehead. Seemed a little more evident now that she was tense. How her nose crinkled when she was angry. Her wispy white her hair tied in a small bun on the back of her head. An ugly shawl draped around her bony shoulder. A sigh escaping her thin and tightly shut lips as she impatiently taps her torn slipper on the wet concrete floor. The thick cloud of fog clears and out steps the pot-bellied station master.

As soon as she heard the sound of the floaters slapping against the wet cement floor, she instinctively knew who it was. Dev Bhutia stepped out of the thick fog. He always wore a blue blazer that missed a button, something he never fixed, it was slightly tight around his gigantic belly. Underneath his blazer he wore the same stained white shirt and his tattered pants. Maya had never seen him in anything different. His eyes were something that always intrigued her. He was always smiling, the wrinkles around his eyes deepened as he chuckled, his hawk-like nose was the first thing anyone noticed about him. But, his eyes were always forlorn. He would bend down to her level and much to her Granny’s dismay, gave her a small toffee. He picked up her bag and held her hand and they walked towards the engine. She always heard her Granny yelling, telling her to be safe and to not forget her lunch box. He picked her up and seated her next to the driver’s seat. As soon as the train started, so did her talking. He was truly her best friend.

As she put down the received of the phone, she felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time, relaxed. All the heat and the shouting didn’t faze her anymore. She picked up her bag, a new found strength in her and a certain sense of contentment. Something had changed.