A warm day. People are dozing off inside the ladies’ compartment of the local train.
In the adjoining men’s compartment, those standing are reading newspapers or mobile. One of them is talking to his friend, through the partition. An old man is watching them and nodding with displeasure.
The train stops at a station. A hawker gets up with her hanging merchandize.
“Wake up ladies, its Women’s Day!”
Her shrill voice startled a lazy afternoon out of slumber. Some are irritated, rest are amused.
A young woman – a student travelling with her friends asks, “Ya so? Are you taking us for a treat?” Her friends laugh.
Another bulky woman says, “Can’t you talk softly? Hadn’t slept well for the last three days. Son’s exam and stuff… so much pressure.”
Another woman – a banker perhaps – looks up from a file that holds mutual funds papers. “Are you offering women’s day discount on safety pins?”
Everyone laughs. Even those in the men’s compartment are amused and they are watching what is happening. The lady ticket checker nods her head.
The hawker looks a little embarrassed, but gets her pitch back immediately.
“The corporator came to our chawl this morning, with packets for women.” She informed her attentive audience in the ladies’ compartment of the local train. “It has samosas and sweets. My husband will allow me to share my packet if I sell everything today.” She chuckles with great confidence, as her audience looks shocked and has started murmuring.
“First time I came here to sell things, I was told that the local train is a temple. And the ladies compartment is the Devi. Miracles happen here.” She scratched her dirty head, her eyes full of hope.
They laugh at her. She still smiles sheepishly.
That’s when one woman called. And started buying scrolling through the clips, combs, brushes and rubber bands. Soon more women joined, buying stuff they don’t need. Women bargained hard, but paid by the end. The girl talking to her friend from the men’s compartment asked him for change. He obliged.
Another man from the men’s compartment laughed, “Give me a comb too, woman. If I take home a comb as women’s day gift, I will get beaten up. But at least I will comb my hair before entering the house today.” Everyone laugh with him, wishing him and his wife a good time this evening and a comb is passed.
When the next station come, the hawker gets down and so does the ticket checker. The hawker is smiling eye to eye as a lot of her stuff is sold.
The ticket checker asks, “Now you will go back and give this entire money to your husband to retrieve some snacks that must have gone stale by now?”
The woman smiles. “No didi. He and his brother must have finished the entire packet all by themselves. I will buy a pair of fresh samosas for me and my sister-in-law. The men won’t be home now.”
She winks and disappears.
To each her own! This Women’s Day thing…