girl with three men
One evening, Nimal arrived at the Fort railway station earlier than
usual. He walked to the familiar platform from force of habit though
there was ample time for his train. He sat on a vacant bench. There was
a very young couple seated on the next one; they laughed for no apparent
reason, talked and munched peanut from a paper cormucopia the girl held
in her hand. At one stage of their courting, the youthful lovers
remained motionless like statues, looking into the eyes of the other as
if each of them was entranced with the other in a hypnotic spell.
Having seen the crumbs of peanuts strewn on the floor around the feet
of the pair, a pigeon fluttered down and waited on the floor a little
distance away, scared to reach for the morsels of food. Another bird too
sailed down to join the other; they waddled gracefully moving their pink
legs swiftly and jerking the tiny heads in a curious way. One bird grew
bolder in the presence of a rival to get closer to the lovers and began
to pick the crumbs hurriedly and cautiously, ready to take wings at the
slightest sign of danger. The young Romeo and Juliet huddled together
and watched the lovely birds pick up the fragments of seeds one by one.
Nimal watched the adolescent lovers with a tinge of envy. He had been
aching to fall in love with a beautiful girl; many a time, he got
interested in young girls who unfortunately did not reciprocate his
Unexpectedly, his two friends whom he had been waiting for, emerged
from the crowd that had gathered there gradually for the same train.
Some commuters who had become impatient of waiting for a long time
craned their necks to see whether the train was coming. All at once, the
whole throng of people got agitated as though they had sensed an
imminent danger. Those who were seated on the benches stood up;
everybody was braced up and looking at the train coming on to the
platform. The entire crowd ran pell-mell along the platform competing
with the moving train scrambling frantically to get into it. Even women
joined the foray! Most of the crowd entrained before it stopped. The
scrimmage grew more violent inside the train; everybody was pushing the
other and thrusting oneself into the mob shouting and yelling, like dogs
fighting over a piece of bone! Everyone fought to snatch a seat.
Nimal and his two friends procured seats and they were together on a
long seat. The train started moving with a series of abrupt jerks
causing the standees jostling into one another. The trio noticed that a
girl was seated on the opposite row of seats sandwiched between two
elderly gentlemen. Here was an unfamiliar face to the young men. Clad in
a saree and a jacket with a naïve appearance, she kept on looking at the
swiftly changing view through the window.
of the friends of Nimal was a newly married person; the other was a
bachelor like him. As regular train travellers, they had become friends
and always travelled in the same compartment. Nimal travelled upto
Veyangoda, the other two went farther.
This particular day, none of them had brought a newspaper as usual.
As a habit, for the first thirty minutes of the journey, they would read
a newspaper brought by one of them.
This day, the other two smoked cigarettes while Nimal being a
non-smoker, kept on looking out of the window as he had nothing to do.
Still, the train had not reached Veyangoda, a distance of 23 miles from
Nimal’s bachelor friend was a witty person who cracked jokes always
and made his friends laugh. He tried to attract the attention of the new
girl by his jests. Several times, the girl smiled shyly without looking
at them and kept looking away.
The train stopped at Veyangoda. The girl got down and her identity
blurred and vanished in the crowd that poured out of the train into the
“She is not a regular traveller,” Newton remarked.
“I saw her for the first time,” Perera responded. The train resumed its
The following day, the girl got into the same railway carriage just
before the train left the Fort. She ploughed her way along the aisle in
the carriage jammed with people. The young men were already seated at
their familiar place. At once they recognised her; she smiled faintly
“You should have come a little early, my dear,” Newton told her with
a mocking smile. In response to his words, she smiled faintly and stood
close to them, holding the back of their seat.
“Can’t you come a little early?” Perera converted his friend’s
suggestion into a question.
“Our boss doesn’t allow us to leave office early,” she said in a
soft, clear voice and turned her pretty head down.
“Alright, we’ll try to reserve a place for you tomorrow,” Newton
promised jokingly. Once again she smiled and lowered her head.
Meanwhile, without their knowledge, the train started and travelled
more than ten miles. Perera stood up and offered his seat to the girl.
She accepted it.
“He is very generous to attractive girls,” Newton joked. “Be careful,
he is married.” Having said that, he laughed caustically. The innocent
girl twisted herself with shyness and embarrasment.
“Yes, I am married. I don’t deny that. Unfortunately, my friend got
the boot from his girlfriend very recently. If I were you, I would
Perera and Nimal went into fits of laughter.
A place was reserved for the girl on the ensuing day by her new
friends. From that day, regularly she came to the same compartment and
they travelled together. She made friends with the young men. Gradually,
the lass shook off her shyness as one casts off a garment which is no
longer in fashion and mixed with them freely. She trusted them, in
return, the young men grew fond of her and her company.
One day, Mallika did not turn up. They expected her to appear even at
the last moment, but she was not to be seen. The train started moving.
They thrust their heads out of the windows to see whether she was on the
platform unable to board the moving train. Instead, they saw a young man
arrive at the last moment and running along the platform after the train
that gathered speed each second. They forgot about the girl and
continued to look out to see whether the young man would succeed in his
attempt or not. At last, he managed to cling onto the last carriage,
performing an acrobatic feat at the risk of his life. Nimal and Newton
began to read; one read a novel and the other an old newspaper. Perera
rested his head against the back of his seat and dozed off.
For a whole week the girl was absent. Perera suggested that they
should pay a visit to her place to find out what had happened to her.
All agreed unanimously. To their great dismay, it struck them that they
did not know her whereabouts. Willy-nilly, the idea was dropped by them.
“Don’t worry, she will come next Monday,” Newton said in his
customary jovial way.
The following Monday, Nimal arrived at the Fort railway station early
and waited for his friends. The platform was almost empty as the there
was plenty of time for the train. Mallika appeared at the far end of the
station and was in a striking batik frock. Nimal watched her walk
towards him on the platform with graceful movements of her wide hips.
Her face illumined with a pleasant smile when she saw Nimal.
The batik gown the girl was wearing had a coffee-brown background
over which bright yellow splotches or varied sizes were sprinkled and
the scalloped hemline fell just below her knees exposing the well shaped
calves that tapered to the ankles. Her breast struck out under her
apparel with suggestions of their protuberant shape. She smelt of sweet
perfume, like a fresh flower.
Like two detectives, Newton and Perera appeared just behind the young
“Hello darling, how are you, after a long time? What happened to you
Newton butted in, in his usual, comical way.
“I was sick”
“Sick of us?”
The words came pat from Newton. All burst into loud laughter.
“I was down with fever,” recovering from her parcxym of laughter, she
“We wanted to go to your place to see you; unfortunately, we didn’t know
“All lies, nobody talked about you in your absence. I was the only
person worried over your absence. You know, I could not eat because I
Newton did not allow the talk to turn serious.
As the train was already late, there was a large crowd braced for an
invasion to grab seats. When the train came onto the platform, the
patiently waited mass of commuters went berserk suddenly and the
familiar melee broke out. A violent shove from the wriggling mob pushed
the clique into the train. They failed to secure seats for all of them.
After offering his place to Mallika, Newton opted to travel standing and
he stood close to her.
In a jiffy, they forgot the ordeal of getting into the train and
engaged in an animated conversation. Most of the talk was done by Perera
while the girl and Nimal listened attentively. Newton interrupted them
to crack jokes and make them laugh. Mallika was always the butt of the
harsh jokes and ridicules of Newton, who made himself a clown.
After some time, in his measured voice, Perera began to narrate a
very interesting anecdote. Mallika and Nimal listened to what was being
narrated with rapt attention.
Though Newton pretended that he was also listening, he was actually
planning his next foolery.
Continued next week