I look at the Television. Petrified. I see those images and I couldn’t comprehend anything. I was trembling. My eyes welled up. My heart beats knew no pace. I couldn’t look away. I stared blankly at the television, not knowing what to do.
It was 2 days back. My parents wanted me to travel to Amritsar where I had to visit a relative of mine. They couldn’t come along because my mom was unwell and my dad had to go on a business trip. It is really a bliss when your parents let you travel alone at the age of 17, you know. No matter how much I dreaded spending time at a relative’s place, that wasn’t the reason I was actually going. It was the holy air of Golden Temple that I wanted to breathe in. It was always my dream to travel alone. And I finally got the chance to do so. I was ecstatic! I immediately started packing, making a list of the things I need to buy and the things I need to arrange. You know we always have a mental trail of stuff you want to do when you travel? This was it. My trail had finally begun.
Soon enough, my time of journey arrived. I hugged my dad, kissed my mom on her cheek, disregarding all her worry talks about how I should take care, not talk to strangers, not get down from the train…typical mother! I took a cab and went to the railway station. My train had just arrived. I looked at the humongous rail line, took a deep breath and stepped inside. I searched for my compartment and sat. Suddenly, everything felt so serene. I felt like I had achieved Nirvana. After all, my passion for traveling was finally in practice! And I knew I was going to rock the one day journey.
I took out my lunchbox and started eating. My mom’s special baingan ka bharta. With every bite I felt homesick. But nothing could break my will. I was going to make the most of my trip. I got chatting with people around, listened to their stories, told them mine, played card games with them. After what seemed like eternity, Delhi arrived. Having never been to that place before, I felt like I should see what the capital of the country looks like. Naturally, since it is a big stop, it was obvious the train was going to stand for at least a while. I took my wallet and my hand bag and stepped out. I felt my mom’s voice ringing in my head. “Don’t step down from the train, beta.”
I ignored the voice and went ahead. I explored the station, looked at the small stalls, bought a few magazines and a few packets for my trip. I then went to the loo. While inside, I heard the sound of the train leaving. I hustled up and ran. By the time I reached the platform, the train had left. I ran after the train like an actress does-the only difference being there was no Prince Charming to lend me a hand. As a watched it leave, I saw my spirit dwindling. It was getting late, 9:00 pm. It felt extremely eerie and I looked around only to find strangers staring at me coldly. I was terrified.
Having no other option, I walked out of the station, called my parents and checked into the nearby hotel. Thankfully, I had my wallet and phone with me. My father made arrangements for him to come and get me. Being the distressed, overprotective Indian parents that they are, they took every minute detail of my surroundings, leaving no scope to detect any danger. Honestly, I was panicking. Each part of me was tensed, unaware of what to do next. It was my first time traveling alone, and I missed the train. It got even frightening listening to loud noises from the next room. There was some kind of red light glowing in the dark outside the hotel. It was uncanny. My mind was running, but I had no idea what to do. I tried watching TV, listening to songs, reading the magazines I bought, but nothing seemed to help. I hated myself for not listening to my mom. I hated myself for being a smartass and getting down from the train. I knew it was going to take my father a while to come, hence I decided to take a nap. Not realizing how tired I was, I slept feeling agitated, only waking up the next morning.
My father was on his way to Delhi, so I decided to watch TV for a while. Keep myself updated with the current affairs. I switched the channels and set it to News. The news of the day had just begun and I saw images of dead people staring at me from my TV screen. The next image I saw was of fumes coming out of a train compartment. My eyes were wide open. I listened closely and heard the reporter say “The Samjhauta Express, on its way to Amritsar blasted in Panipat, Haryana at 23:53 pm”. I changed the channel and listened to another one say “Khabar mili hai ki Amritsar jane wali train Samjhauta Express mein raat ko 11 bajkar 53 minutes par bomb blast hua hai.” Another News channel said “Nearly 68 people killed in the bomb blast of Samjhauta Express in Haryana.” I was aghast.