"Thank God! This train is much better. You know the train we came in was so crowded that few people were sleeping on floor and that too in 3rd AC. That's why I prefer Flights" Malini said, while settling down on her berth.
"Try this pasta, it's really delicious, I got it packed from Italian Den". Malini offered pasta to Shreya who was quietly listening to Malini; giving her an occasional nod.
"Arjun loves pasta! Don't you sweetheart?" Malini asked her 5 year old, who was sitting by the window, looking at the villages passing by.
"There was some major festival because of which there was so much rush" Malini said before having a spoonful of red pasta.
"Good that Abhay was with us. He kept me calm and you wouldn't believe what he told me. He had also travelled like that during his college days and probably why he didn't complain to the TC. It wouldn't have mattered because that TC was so corrupt that he took 500 bucks for allowing people to sleep on floor.
Don't you think it is unsafe to allow so many people in train without any reservations"
"Train journey is any ways not safe yaar! Just check the headlines in today's paper. Some train got derailed in Punjab" Shreya passes the copy of The Times to Malini.
Malini glanced at the headlines and responded "One more reason to travel by air". She put the paper aside which Arjun picked up and started reading.
"Arjun, have some pasta dear" Malini asked
"No Maa I am not hungry" Arjun said without taking his eyes off the newspaper which had the image of badly mangled train bogeys with headlines Another train derails, 15 children dead
"Mrs. Malini Kumar!..Mr. Arjun Kumar!" man in black coat interrupted Malini & Shreya's discussion on their experience with various shopping portals.
"I am Arjun, what's your name?" Arjun quipped.
Smile broke on TC's lips. "I am P.K. Ghosh" he said pointing to his name tag.
"What does PK mean?"
"Its Parthasarthy Kumar Ghosh, you can call me Partha"
"Ok Partha, how I can help you?" Arjun gave a missing-tooth smile to Mr. Ghosh
"Mr. Ghosh is here to verify our tickets sweetie" Malini handed over her PAN Card to the TC.
"Thanks Mrs. Kumar! Miss Shreya Bansal?"
"Here!" Shreya handed over the ticket print-out along with her PAN Card.
"Thanks! Nice to meet you Arjun, Bye!"
"Bye Partha! Arjun waved to Partha without looking up. He was busy playing game on his Dad's iPad.
"Now we can sleep" Shreya said
"Shreya, you know ticket print-out is actually not required in train"
"Arrey I know yaar, I got it booked through an agent so he sent it to me"
Malini wasn't impressed. "Ok, let's sleep now" she said.
"Arjun, you are sleeping on the upper berth"
"No Maa, I will fall down" Arjun said in a low voice, putting his tongue on the gums of his missing tooth.
"Don't do that! and No, you won't fall down. See you are taller than the gap"
"Can I sleep with you..like I did with Dad"
"No sweetie, this way it will be comfortable for both of us."
Malini prepared both the beds, Shreya was on the lower berth and some man was on the other upper berth who was sleeping since the time they boarded the train.
"Ok, here you go" Malini picked Arjun and tucked him in on the upper berth. She laid on the lower berth.
"Good night Shreya, Please keep an eye on Arjun!
"Sure, Good night!"
Malini remembered something and got up. Arjun was wide awake. She kissed his forehead, "Goodnight sweetie. Don't worry you won't fall. Try to sleep and call me if you need anything. Ok?
"Ok Maa!" Malini again kissed him.
As she turned, she saw the man on the other upper berth smiling at them. He looked a little disheveled. She gave a half smile before returning to her berth.
We will be home by morning! She thought closing her eyes.
"Malini get up!" This time Shreya grabbed Malini's arm and shook her.
"What?" Malini slowly opened her eyes trying to see who interrupted her weird dream.
"Arjun is not on his berth!"