Being a Sport

It was late afternoon and the metro was warm and cosy; the crowd was suddenly your friend, and the otherwise incessant chatter like the caress of a soft hum. The ‘general’ compartment was filling up fast, and noticing the last empty seat, he rushed, quicker than his friends, and sat; sighed, leaned his head against the back, relaxed his feet. Loosened, shuffled, and opened his eyes again.

When he saw his friends sniggering, nudging at each other. “It’s for ladies only,” they said, pointing at the green sign above the seat. “Perfect for you.” He shook his head at their taunts, smiling back sarcastically in return, but worried inside- should I get up? It’s peak time, some woman was bound to claim her seat. Yet, he wanted to enjoy those few minutes of rest just as he wanted to join his mates, stand up, be their equal. So he sat back.

The doors opened.

She entered, wearing a bright orange jacket, straight hair, laptop bag in one hand and a large handbag in the other. She scanned the compartment, and finding all seats occupied, plonked her bags on the floor, held the railing and stood facing him.

His friends laughed louder.

Ab toh uthna padhega,” they said. Now you will have to get up. Urging, jeering, laughing. He could not ignore them and more importantly, he could not ignore her and her right; bhaisahab, he would hear soon, uthenge zara. He closed his eyes for one more second, relishing in the stillness, and then opened them determinedly, resigning to his fate.

He half-rose.

Baithiye, baithiye” she said, laughing loudly, touching his shoulders, forcing him to sit down at what he believed had been reserved against him. Surprised, he settled back down, looking at her bags, his friends, and then at her. Her laugh was sparkle, her eyes playful- she glanced back reproachfully at his friends who were jeering even more loudly now. Smiling mischievously, shaking her head as if to say, nice friends.

In a bit, he relaxed again and his eyes shut, oblivious to the ladies only seat, to the lady who stood in front of him and her rightful seat, to the “doors will open on the right”, and leaned back in peace, in contentment.

Is it love at first sight? No.

Her magnanimity? Not really.

This

is spirit. Spontaneity. Love and cheer, on a cold, January day.

In the sweat and grime, hostility and spite, in the rat race, in the overpopulation and the muck and pushes and impatience, it is being a breath of fresh air.

This is what, is called being a sport.

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