She sat at the corner of the seat, making sure that no part of her body apart from her eyes were visible, she wished she could wear goggles right now. For the first time in a long time, her burqa had come of real use. Her eyes searched the compartment for any familiar faces, she could find none, and she heaved a sigh of relief. She then looked at the man sitting right in front of her; her would be husband, provided they wouldn’t be killed.
They chose a strategic position, sitting at the entrance of the compartment and on the side seats so that they would have enough time to escape just in case someone found them and the seats being separate from the others so that they would not have to engage in meaningless conversation.
He was sweating bad and fear was clearly evident from his eyes. She thought about how the last 2 hours had changed their lives. How her brothers who once would do anything to keep her happy were the ones ready to kill her happiness. How she decided to take things into her hands and not get married to any stranger. How she and her lover took all their educational certificates and cash and got into the Mumbai bound train. How they bribed the officials to get them a seat and a disposable phone.
It was an overnight journey. She felt pity for her lover, though she remained covered and in the protection of her burqa, her lover remained bare to the naked eye, one look at him and he could be recognized.
Every time the train stopped at a station they froze, froze expecting their worst fears, that someone would walk in and recognize them and their fate would be sealed to their graves. They didn’t eat anything, hunger and food was the last thing on their mind. He asked her to get some sleep and tried to comfort her by telling that once they got to Mumbai they would be safe, she managed to give a meek smile and a nod.
She looked out of the window, it was all dark, she kept staring into the dark night, hoping against hope that things would get all right, she slowly drifted into sleep. Her entire life flashed right in front of her eyes.
Her parents, at least till the extent that she was mistaken about were non orthodox. She had 3 elder brothers and being the youngest, was pampered to no bounds. She was given regular religious education but studied in a co-ed school and college; post college her parents allowed her to work too, unlike those of her other friends. She met her lover during college, young love blossomed without considering that they were of different religions. She was plenty sure that her parents would understand, that it would be a struggle but in the 21st century all these things hardly mattered.
Oh! How wrong she was!
She felt a hand creep up on her hands; she woke up with a start. Her lover looked at her with a huge smile, she looked at him, perplexed and flummoxed. He pointed his finger towards the window, it was already dawn and they had just reached Pune. Her happiness knew no bounds! Finally she was a thousand kilometers away and in a few hours would reach Mumbai.
They had chosen Mumbai because of the crowd and the fact that it was cheap. Her lover explained his plan, how they would have to stay at a lodge for a few days and then look around for clothes, an accomodation and jobs, she could feel her life setting right into place. She glanced at the old couple in their compartment and silently prayed that this new dawn would bring hope, happiness and a lot of love, enough to keep them together till they were this old.
The few hours left to reach Mumbai passed without much agony. The train finally halted. She waited for the compartment to get empty.
Just as she got off the train she heard a man scream, “There they are!”
The hair on the nape of her neck rose, her entire body under the siege of goose bumps and she stood paralyzed with fear.
She turned to find a mob of men lead by her brothers with sticks in their hands.
She had a bad feeling.
The new dawn had brought an end to their lives.