The man kept arguing. The only argument he had was that he was a railway employee and he worked hard for the passengers and the passengers must let him travel in comfort and actually, railway employees were allowed to get into sleeper class compartments and sit where ever they wanted to. Nobody was allowed to question them. One passenger demanded his I-card and he produced one. The I-card was handed to Anindita for checking if he was speaking the truth. Out of curiosity, she looked. His name was Giridhari Yadav. He was a "khalasi" or in better words a gatekeeper kind of staff. Anindita hadnt spoken after the passengers had taken over the argument. She was disgusted of the whole affair and of the whole day. Anindita handed it back to the man and produced her own I-card that had been provided to her as a trainee at the IT-department of CLW (Chittaranjan Locomotive Works). She handed it to Giridhari and said, "I work in the computer department of the same corporation you are in and I deal with the Accounts section. You can check. Do you know to read English?"
People went quieter. The man looked at Anindita and muttered something. Anindita looked at the man sternly and said, "It would take me two minutes to find out every minute detail about you. Not only that, I work on the payment cheques that you recieve every month as your salary. You want me to do that?"
The man stared at Anindita and Anindita continued, "Once I am done with all the things I mentioned, let me see how much interested you would be in serving your passengers?"
The man got up and without a single word walked out of the compartment. Aninidita smiled. Her first smile throughout the day. This was the best thing that happened to her since morning. She could surely find out every minute detail in a minute but she was in no position to alter anything regarding his salary cheque. After all, she was just a software developer. It was fun being somebody of such weight that people double your age are afraid of you. Other passengers stood there and a discussion followed for sometime. Slowly the croed dispersed from the door to their respective seats. One of them came up to Anindita and said, "Come and sit. There is space over here."
Anindita thanked and declined. She was loving the wind. The old man was back at his seat. Anindita asked him, "Where are you going?"
He replied, "Balia, beti."
"Dont you have a reservation? It is very far. You will have to sit the whole night?"
"I know, but tickets costs so much. I did not have enough money."
"Hmm. Who stays in Balia?"
"My folks. My relatives. From now on, I will live there itself."
"And in Kolkata?"
"Kolkata nahi, beti, I lived in Asansol. I used to be a Rickshaw-puller. And since the past few years, I gathered up plastics and sold them. It was enough for us. I do not have children. My wife died two months ago. What shall I live for in Bardhman, all alone?"
Anindita looked outside into the dark and thought, "Funny life."