‘Wordsmiths?’ I asked.
‘Yes, That’s how we are called nowadays, though…’ She seemingly wanted to contradict the titles given to people like her, but something held her back.
Honestly, I have never seen any writer up close. She must have been a moderately famous one, for I noticed how even the door man at the small eatery looked at us.
We were at the station. Few minutes back at the platform we met. She was sitting on her luggage and working something on her laptop when a sudden whiff of breeze took some papers from her hand and threw them on the platform.
I picked them and handed them over to her. She smiled. I pictured the whole thing as something very cinematic. Or it might be I had seen clippings of movies where the hero met the heroine that way. And their eyes surely got locked on each other’s.
But I have never taken interest in literature. Crazy stuff without least logic – that’s how I looked upon literature, specially poems. Stories…well, some I liked but then big fat books running for pages?
They made me sleepy.
But this woman. A wordsmith. The pages I collected were letterheads with long passages typed neat. ‘Malabika Sen Sharma, Wordsmith.’ It was written.
Strange profession. Not a writer? Wordsmith?
Malabika wanted to have coffee and snacks. She asked if I could join her.
I agreed. Not because Malabika was good looking. But because those pages had that strange description of her profession.
‘Yes! A wordsmith.’ Malabika smiled.
I noticed her smile had a sense of self attained authority.
‘And what do you do?’ I was asked, while I was taking my second sip of the brew and a bite at the sandwich.
‘I? I work in I.T.’ I claimed with pride.
She smiled again. Her eyes did not have that usual appreciative lustre which I had usually faced while declaring my job to strangers.
‘And what you do?’ I asked Malabika.
‘ I make words…’ She replied.
‘How can one make words? Words come to us like packaged things. They are part of our language system, by default, I mean…’ I tried to elucidate.
‘Have you ever thought that words which you think are coming to us by default, are actually coined by someone or some group of people at one time?’ She asked me.
‘Yes…I got it! You are a linguist! A language expert!’ I tried to show off little bit of knowledge I had retained about language.
In my graduation days, while learning communicative English, our teacher once gave an enthralling lecture on Language and its origin. By some providence, I got reminded of it faintly.
Malabika giggled. Pure girlish giggle of hers. Suddenly she looked much younger than she looked. Her face looked like a sixteen year old’s.
‘Nah! I am not a linguist, boy! I am a wordsmith!’ She asserted, with playful disobedience.
‘So you coin words and earn living by that?’ I tried to be serious.
‘Is it a job or a business?’ I asked again.
‘A job of course!’
‘And you work for?’
‘A publishing company.’
‘Great!’ I retorted and concentrated on finishing off the sandwich and coffee. Got a train to catch within half an hour or so.
‘Which platform?’ Malabika asked, seeing me hurrying through a bit with coffee.
‘Really? For me too, same.’ She seemed excited.
I got surprised. ‘Train to Allahabad? Yours ?’
‘Yes, Cherub.’ She replied.
‘Cherub?’ I asked.
‘Yes, a little boy mine.’ She replied.
‘Little boy? Yours? You are almost of my age and I am not a little boy in any sense.’ I thought she was joking.
‘As a wordsmith, I give you this name, Cherub, how is that for the rest of our journey? I mean I will call you Cherub? Will you mind?’
‘Of course I will!’ I showed my dissent.
‘My name is Dhruvo. You can call me Dhruv.’ I added.
‘Okay Dhruv. I call you Dhruv. Now lets walk out to the platform.’ Malabika said, agreeing.
The bill we paid together, each of us bearing the half of it.
As we started moving briskly through the platform, its moving passengers, vendors, etc. I felt bad for being so obstinate towards Malabika over just my name. Would it really matter if she called me ‘Cherub’? I asked myself.
Few minutes from now she would go to her compartment, I in mine.
‘Sorry…’ I finally told her when she was about to put her luggage into her assigned coach.
‘What for?’ She asked.
‘For showing my dissent over a trifle issue…your calling me Cherub.’ I said.
‘Its okay… and, moreover Dhruv, it showed you are a Cherub! A little angelic boy…happy journey friend and thanks for the company at the café.’ She said.
‘Yea… when the train would stop at Allahabad, could we meet then?’ I asked.
‘We could but you would have to promise me that when we would meet at Allahabad, you would give me a name, is it okay with you?’ Malabika asked.
‘But I am not a wordsmith like you…’ I tried to protest.
Malabika replied, ‘You need not to be one.’
‘Okay…’ I waved at her and walked off to get to the door of my coach.
Next afternoon when I got down from the train at Allahabad, I found Malabika at the main gate. We both went outside.
‘So…tell me, got any?’ She asked.
‘Yes, Notebook, now let’s go out and catch a taxi first to the hotel where we are to attend our first launch of digital word processor.’ I told Malabika.
‘Okay Cherub.’ The Notebook replied.