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Friday 2 August 2019

The Seat by the Window

It was her lucky day; she’d got a seat by the window after ages and was gazing idly at the rather unsightly view outside. The train had stopped at Kurla station, notorious for overwhelming crowds, where a thousand got off each compartment while a thousand more got in, all in a matter of a few seconds. The station was a rampage with each person jostling to find their way towards or away from the train. With a lurch the train started again and she caught sight of man staring intently at her from the now rapidly disappearing platform. She brushed it off as a figment of her imagination and concentrated on the open book on her lap. 
The next day she got a side seat, after having stood for a good 40 mins. At Kurla station she noticed the man from the previous day desperately scanning the ladies compartment. She continued to observe him as she was sure he couldn't see her seated all the way inside. The train moved and the man looked angry and frustrated. 

The following weeks, the train was so crowded that she had the misfortune of being stranded at the entrance of the compartment, unable to plough her way inside. She could feel the intense scrutiny of the same man's eyes on her from the platform, standing at the same spot. She pretended to be unaware of his gaze but managed to sneak peeks from lowered lashes. He was probably in his 30's, of an average height and built, fair complexioned, always dressed in kurta and jeans, sporting a stubble and disheveled hair, a rather ordinary looking man except for his furtive eyes and thick brows. It made her very uncomfortable, this stalking. God knew, since when it had been going on. She was aware that she wasn’t a classic beauty but something about her made heads turn wherever she went. Maybe it was the trendy clothes she wore or the way she carried herself. She started wearing dull conservative clothes, no make-up, but still nothing changed; the man persisted with his ogling.
This could not continue, she thought worriedly and decided to change tack. She took the ladies compartment located in the front. As the train entered the crowded Kurla station, she spotted the stalker. He looked at his watch and started scanning the train, waiting for the ladies compartment in the rear. She was wary yet a thrill passed through her; she'd managed to give the stalker a slip.
The next day, she was innocuously seated in a middle seat in the front ladies compartment. Her heart jumped to her mouth when she perceived disapproving eyes boring into hers. The lecher had somehow figured out her plan and taken the adjoining men's compartment and was now staring at her through the metal mesh partition.
Thoroughly rattled, she stopped taking the train altogether and resorted to cumbersome bus routes instead. 
A couple of months passed in sheer agony of travelling in overcrowded buses stuck in traffic jams and she desperately hoped that the creep at Kurla station would have given up the idea of stalking her by now.

Today, she got into the train at Tilak Nagar, a station before Kurla station. All the daily commuters were pleasantly surprised to see a brand new train and empty at that, rumble into the platform. It was fresh and clean from the railway yard.
She was pushed into the ladies compartment in a swirling mass of arms and bodies and wonder of wonders; she bagged an empty seat near the window. The new train, its spanking upholstery and trimmings, made for an excited buzz of conversation in the ladies compartment.
The train rolled next into Kurla station and to her horror, she saw the wretched man there. Restlessly striding and watching with furtive eyes. When he caught sight of her sitting by the window, his expression changed to one of fury. He looked every inch crazed and psychopathic!
It terrified her when she saw him approach her at a run, wildly pushing through the crowd. She cowered and sat away from the window, her spine and head plastered to the back of her seat.
With a cry of rage he pulled out a bottle from his pant pocket and flung its contents towards her just as the train pushed forward.
Acrid, vile liquid oozed down the closed clear glass shutters of the now fast accelerating new train. A collective loud shout passed through the compartment as her co-passengers noticed what had just happened.
She’d just escaped an acid-attack, by freak luck, courtesy Indian Railways.


I am participating in the #WordsMatter Blog Hop. The prompt for this month was "Outside My Window".
I received this tag from Amrita Basu at Healthwealthbridge. It's my pleasure to pass on this tag to Jyothi Nair at Shortened Tales.
There are 47 of us on this Blog Hop and it will be spread over 3 days - 2,3, 4 August. Do follow the #WordsMatter Blog Hop and prepare to be surprised!

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