It was Friday morning and I had just completed my daily exercise. Aai suddenly asked me to go to railway station and book tatkal ticket for us. I had to go to Aurangabad for vocational training and Aai had her official training at Pune. We decided to travel together up to Pune by train as it is far cheaper than luxury buses.
I reached station at 6:40 AM. I was 9th person in queue. Booking agents were sleeping near counter as it was their daily job. I got a place to seat. There was a girl next to me. A boy (I got to know that he was her younger brother) was sitting in between us. Around 6-7 people joined the queue in next 40 minutes. A mid-age Gujarati couple arrived at 7:30 who looked at queue and felt like disappointed. I noticed this from their expressions and behavior. Meanwhile, a booking agent left the place after keeping his jerkin on his seat. After sometime, that gujarati lady sat on last seat for few minutes and then rushed towards booking agents place. She said that she was sitting there to save herself from cold breeze when all the people in the queue started staring at her. Everybody allowed her as her justification was reasonable.
In next 20 minutes, the queue has reached till the door of reservation hall. The Gujarati couple was sharing their experience about tatkal reservations with nearby people and blaming booking agents for blocking seats. The girl next to me stood up and asked me if I look onto her seat as she wanted to drop her younger brother at home. I agreed and smiled. At 8 O’clock, reservation counter started but it was for regular reservations and not for tatkal seats. I had to wait till 10 O’clock. I hated myself for wasting 4 hours in this dull place. I started listening music to kill the time. The girl next to me returned at around 8:30 AM. The first official conversation between us started with her thanks and cute smile. We had casual conversation. She had done Bachelors in Biotechnology and currently pursuing MBA in Mysore. We had lengthy conversation about our college life and campus placements. I saw her name on reservation form and it was ‘Mohini Ahire’ but I am not sure if it was Rohini or Mohini.
An RPF officer entered in the hall and maintained the queue which was distorted after regular reservations started. Everyone rearranged their position filling up empty seats next to them. We both noticed that the Gujarati lady didn’t move from her seat. We surprised at first but later ignored it. The Gujarati man handed over money and identity proof to the lady. Everyone was surprised with their behavior but didn’t talk on this matter. I asked that lady to leave the queue but she ignored my words. Now the situation was clear. Everyone understood their plan but no one followed my voice. I was like ashamed but hadn’t given up yet. Then, the girl and I started discussing about their rude behavior. We decided not to let this happen. We were confident to do something but were uncertain about how to do it actually.
At 10 O’ clock, booking for tatkal reservation started. By now, the queue had extended till the parking area of the station. I asked that lady to leave the queue. In her defence, he said, “I will not leave. The RPF officer has seen me sitting here. I am here since the morning.” I replied, “You are not here since the morning. We are here from 6 O’ clock and you came here later.” As our argument grown to a level, people gathered around us. Her husband had joined the argument but no one joined me except that girl!
Someone called RPF officer. he office listened to both sides. At first, I was the only talking head but later, that girl took the lead and convinced the officer. One could feel the strong and seriousness in her words. The Gujarati couple was still explaining their fictional saga. When officer requested women to leave the queue, she didn’t follow him. We had created a scene now. After few minutes of quarrel, husband dragged his wife out of row. Entire hall was quiet for a moment. The RPF officer left the place after verifying the sound situation. The girl and I looked at each other. We silently celebrated our victory! We gave winning smile and stood up in the queue.
In next 5-6 minutes, we booked our tickets and left the counter. Before leaving the reservation hall, she told me that she was departing the next day evening. I was confused. I didn’t ask her contact number as I thought to catch her later on Facebook. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find her. I was thinking about her whole day and telling this story to everyone. The next day evening, I checked her name on reservation chart but I was unlucky.