Anindita loved Saturdays. On Saturdays office was over by 12.30 p.m. It took her twenty minutes to cycle to the station. If she cycled fast, she managed it in 15 minutes. She boarded the train at 2 o'clock if the train be at right time. And by 4.30 p.m. she was home, on her bed lying down, resting her tired body, waiting for her mother to serve food.
She arrived at the station at 12.55 p.m., went to her usual bench and sat there under the fan. She waited until the air cooled her down a bit. Then she took out her bottle of cold water, thanking the office A.C. that cooled the warm water within half an hour. Her office did not have a water cooler. She cursed summers as she felt the cold water go down her trachea into her stomach. The sun was hot enough to exhaust her from that 20-minute drive to the railway station. She waited until she had cooled down enough to eat. Then out came her tiffin box, and she would eat, chew slowly so that it lasted till her train arrived. This was the usual stuff. Every Saturday she would do this. And when she was done eating, she would pack up her bag and sit there watching around for people.
She sometimes looked at the group of hawkers sitting with their saleables talking to each other, laughing and discussing things that to our ears would not be very pleasing or standard. Nevertheless Anindita listened. Now and then a group of young boys, most probably in their teens, passed by her staring at her and smiling at each other. She didn't mind, as long as they kept the talking and smiling to themselves. A beggar slept under the over bridge stairs, flies whining around him. Anindita thought he must have got used to sleep with them fluttering around him. The lady she disliked never traveled with her on Saturdays. Anindita guessed, she must be in her office then and Balia express would most probably be taking her home even on Saturdays. No, she wasn't missing her, she was just wondering, because she had nothing else to do but think.
The train was on time. She got into the ladies compartment. The ladies compartment on Toofan express was good. Seats were mostly available at her own discretion. She found herself a seat and sat down. There were all ladies around and some kids. Around the doors a few men lurked about. Most probably they had their female family members in the compartment.In front of her there was a lady with three children. The woman was beautiful but a bit fat. Women usually gain weight after marriage. She wondered why! And then imagined herself with a big tummy and children playing around her. It made her want to laugh. She suppressed that and managed with a smile to herself. Two of the children played, and the eldest one slept. The older two were girls and the youngest one was a boy. The oldest and the youngest looked like their their mom. They were fair and lovely like their mom was. The second child was not so beautiful, maybe she was like her father. Anindita loved watching them play. They moved about, laughing and playing. The girl loved her brother. She would amuse him and the boy giggled out loud. He would stand up on the seat and and stomp his feet and jerk his hands and laugh out with all his energy. The girl stood on the floor and giggled with him. Sometimes he would hold her head with his tiny hands, pull her closer, bend a little and kiss on her head. Sometimes he would hold her hair with both his hands and pull them hard, to bring her closer. The girl laughed as tears brimmed her eyes. She would then move closer to him and hug him with her small hands in return. Anindita smiled all along with them.The mother would then scold the boy and free the girl's hair from his hands.
The mother was watching Anindita as she watched the children play. Suddenly she said, "This is my brother-in-law's daughter. I have only two children, the girl who is sleeping and the boy."
Anindita replied, "Really? I thought they were all yours."
"No, Actually, her mother was very ill when she was born, so she used to be with me a lot. Since then its always like this. We are going to my brother's marriage. She wouldnt let me leave without her. So, I brought her with me." And she looked at the girl, brought her closer and hugged her. "She is my child. Arent you dear? I am your mother. Am I not sweetheart?"
The girl smiled and nodded.
Anindita thought what was it like. Was it like snatching away a kid from her mother, or was it like loving somebody just because you have given your love to her the first day she knew this world. She seemed possessive about the girl.