The train was moving fast, leaving behind the platform far away. Almost all the passengers had settled down, keeping their luggages in proper places. I kept my suitcase just below the lower berth seat. Obviously, I preferred two-tier AC for a little comfort, only because the air ticket price for one side journey was too high.
A lady with her son, occupied the other two berths and the fourth one was empty. Maybe, some one would pick up, somewhere else. I looked here and there, then opened my novel to reduce my lonely time. Five minutes later, I heard a feeble voice reading,'Crime and Punishment'. I shifted the book and looked at the boy. He lifted his head little lower to read the name of the book. The moment, he noticed that I was watching him, he sat straight. He looked at the glass window to avoid my attention and next moment looked at me. I smiled at him, he gave a return smile immediately.
Perhaps, his mother was tired, she fell asleep soon after the train picked up its speed. Once again, I turned my face towards him.
'What's your name?' I asked him fondly.
'Shiva,' replied the boy.
'Well, Shiva, are you going to Delhi or you will get down somewhere else?'
'No, we are going to Delhi only.'
'O.K! Visiting someone?' I asked again.
'No, we are staying there,'
'Well, you are in which standard?'
'Sixth,' he gave a short cut answer.
'Good, very good! That means, you are going to be a big boy now,' I grinned at him amusingly.
He smiled back too, shrugging his shoulders in style.
'Your mom is sleeping. Why don't you go and take some rest? Go up and have some nice dream,' I suggested him friendly.
'No, I don't want to sleep.'
'Then, what do you want to do?'
'I want to talk to you, if you don't mind,' immediately he answered.
'Oh, wow! I am impressed. Fine! Come here to my seat. We can have a conversation.'
He jumped over my seat, as if he was waiting for my call.
'Well, Shiva, let us be two friends now. So that you can talk to me openly, am I right? Is that okay?'
'Yeah, it's fine.'
He was delighted with my suggestions.
'Now, we will start, okay?'
'Yes, yes,' said Shiva, coming closer to me.
'Can I address you 'auntie', please?' he asked me in a requesting voice.
'Certainly, Shiva, no problem. By the way, I am nearly your mom's age. I am elder to you, so there is no problem at all to address me 'auntie', okay?'
'Yeah, I know, but once I called one of my friend's auntie as this, and she got angry. She offended me saying that I was not supposed to call her auntie. I was scared.'
'Oh, really!! Okay, okay. It's fine with me. Don't worry and don't be scared.'
I noticed one thing, the way I assured him to be friendly, he was looking very, very jubilant.
I had to continue the conversation, so I asked, 'Shiva dear, you like your school? What's it?'
'I am in D.P.S. I love my school.'
'Oh, I see! Okay. Which teacher impressed you much?' I interrupted again.
'Oh, teacher! I love my maths teacher. She also takes science.'
'Why so? Other teachers are not good?' I asked in a funny tune.
'No, no, they all are good. But maths and science are my favourite subjects and she always tries her best to solve our problems as many times as we want. She never gets angry. We are quite free with her. That's why,' he answered happily.
'O.K, now I got you. Well, now you tell me, what do you want to be in your life?' I asked him enthusiastically.
'Me? Umm....I want to be very, very rich.'
'O.K, but why so?' I asked him with surprise.
'Because, you know what! When I will be rich, mom and me, we can travel by plane. First of all, our time will be saved, secondly nobody will ever poke me that I have never travelled in a plane,' he spoke proudly.
'Oh, my God!! For this much only?'
'No, no, I have so many other wishes too. I want our own house not the rented one. Then, I will buy a beautiful car. I want a Mercedes, but it is too expensive. So I will manage with some other cars, but I will definitely buy a Mercedes, if ever I will be rich.'
I could notice his excitement, while he was expressing his wishes. 'O.K, that's good. But how do you want to be a rich man?'
'Umm...I will be an engineer. And I will take big, big projects. From that, I can earn enough money to fulfil my desire.'
'Oh, Shiva! Come on, man! Suppose, you can't earn enough money from that, then what more you want to do? I don't think, you can earn enough from that,' I added the question a little bit satirically.
'Well, if that will not be sufficient, then I will start some other business to increase my income,' he answered me with a positive attitude.
'Fine, but tell me, you are travelling in two tier A.C. It means, to some extent, you are rich, otherwise one can not afford it.'
'No, no, I am not poor, but I am not rich either. My mom always tries her best to provide me the best of things, ever possible. I know, after my father's death, she has become more sensitive not to make me feel the absence of anything. I told her so many times that I will never feel bad for any inadequacy. But she is not listening to me. She thinks, I am a child, I can't understand anything.'
'Oh, I am so sorry dear. I didn't want to hurt you. Anyways, so you want to be a rich man, so that you can do something for your mom! Am I right?'
'Yeah, that is one reason, but there are some other reasons too,' he said excitedly.
'Oh, really? What are the other reasons? May I deserve to know that?' I asked naughtily and tickled him to make him laugh.
He moved his body with loud laughter, protesting his body from further tickling. His mom got up from her sleep, cause ofhis laughing.
'No, no, mom, sleep, I am just playing with this auntie. Don't worry, sleep comfortably.'
'Shiva's mom grinned at me, then turned her side to linger her rest.
'O.K auntie, now can I tell you the other reasons?'
'Oh, yes, yes! I am waiting for you. Go on.'
'You know what? I have so many friends those who are very rich. One of them is very showy. One day, he missed the school bus, so his dad came to pick him up in a Mercedes car. Continuously for one week, he was asking me whether I ever sat on a Mercedes or not, and besides that he was going on telling me what he has in his house. A wall size TV, expensive AC, wonderful bathroom, electric guitar blah..blah..blah. He knows very well that I have nothing of this sort of things. I don't know why I feel very negligible myself, in front of him.'
'All right, calm down, Shiva! Look dear, you might have misunderstood others. Your friends are also in your age group. Don't you like to show something, when you have a new thing or something exceptional? The same thing might have happened to them also. They are not showy, but they feel excited to tell others, what they have. Never mind for that attitude. Whatever it is, you are a small boy. It happens sometime.You have enough time to be a good, gentle rich man. Would you like to be like your friends?'
'Oh, no! Of course not. But auntie, I have already noticed disparity on behaviour of others towards children like me and towards the very rich children. I am not jealous of them, but whenever they repeat the same thing again and again, I feel bad. I often watch TV after finishing my study. But I always confuse to see the ads of anything, whether they are ever accessible for people like us or not. Once, I had gone to market with mom. I asked her to buy a good shower to replace our old broken one, in our rented house. But when we asked the price, it was too expensive. So we gave up. Mom told me that when we will have our own house, we will buy these expensive items.'
'Okay, good. Your mom is right.'
Suddenly their conversation was interrupted by the catering boy's noise. The train slow down its speed in a small station.
'You want something?' I asked him.
'No, no. When mom will get up, we will have something,' he answered looking at out side.
In spite of his reluctance, I bought some snacks for both of us. In the mean time, Shiva came closer to the glass window on my side.
As the train picked up its speed, the out side views appeared, as if they were running.
'Auntie, look, look at that poster. It is so good!' shouted Shiva.
'It was a huge poster of Messi,' he said excitedly.
'Oh,Messi! You like foot ball?' I asked him.
'Oh, yes. I love foot ball and I love him. I want to play foot ball like him only.'
'I see. That means, you have so many aspirations. You want to be rich, you want to be an engineer and you want to be like Messi too.'
He grinned at me and said,'Yeh! I want so many things.'
By the mean time, Shiva's mother woke up from her sleep. She felt quite relaxed. She looked at me, then spoke to me,'My son is very talkative. I don't know what he told you, but he is very enthusiastic about all these new fast growing world. So many times, he tried to talk to me so much, but unfortunately I couldn't give him time. I do understand his problem but I have no choice. From morning nine o' clock till to evening eight o' clock I am in office. After coming back from office, I have to cook and do other sorts of work. So, almost there is no time to spare with him. I know, he feels bad, but I am helpless. I am the only earning member, single parent,' said Shiva's mother.
I was listening to her silently. My mind was overloaded with Shiva's sweet high aspirations and his childish arguments. As Shiva went to the toilet, I spoke to his mother very politely,'Ma'am, if you don't mind, I would like to suggest you something. With this two and half hours talk with Shiva, what I have noticed is that, he is a wonderful boy. I can't believe what an observation capacity he has!! I think, he is feeling lonely. He wants to share his thoughts, his happiness and his sorrows with someone to whom he can express himself freely. He is not shy at all, rather he wants someone, who can understand his feelings. He is in that stage now, that he is neither a baby nor an adult. He is just touching his teen-age, which is very crucial and important. A child gets happy, if somebody listens to him. He feels as if he has some importance. Not only he feels like that, this is human psychology. So I think, if you can spare a little time with him out of your tight scheduled work, he would become an amazing person! He is really such a wonderful boy! Just be in his side to fulfil his desires, motivate him properly. I know, I am no one to suggest you all these things, but within this short period of conversation, I really feel he is very close to me. Give some values to his thought, I think he would show you wonders. Please, don't mind for my suggestions.'
Shiva's mother looked at me adorably. She nodded her head with full gratitude. 'Yes, you are right! I will try my best, nice to talk to you,' she said politely.
By that time, it was already eight thirty p.m. Few passengers were ready to sleep. We talked a little more, then went for sleeping too. So many things flung in my mind. Specially, Shiva's high aspirations. It is really beyond imagination to guess, what exactly is going on in a child's mind!!! I appreciated his thought and smiled myself. I have no idea when I slept.