A fast train from Pradipghat would take around 45-50 minutes to reach Bharatgadh. Marvan would travel daily between the two stations, in a second class compartment, because of his work.

He would sit at the window seat, look at the dark skies and sing songs of the yesteryears. He had the talent. His friends used to help him by tapping their palms against the train compartment and giving some music. All was going well with Marvan and his group until one day Atul heard him sing in the train.

Atul had just boarded the train from Kalighat, two stations away from where the train had started. Train was crowded and finding a place to stand was in itself a major task. Amidst the frantic pace of the train and the cluttered crowd, Atul heard a mellow voice singing a song of the master Mohammed Rafi. The voice was fresh and it was in tune. Atul felt a strange sensation run through his body. He just closed his eyes and got lost in the trance created by Marvan’s voice. Marvan was singing the sad songs of Rafi that day. His friends were gripped with the sombre atmosphere.

As the train ran towards its destination, a thought struck Atul. Atul opened his eyes. He started searching his coat, trousers and the shirt. The passengers thought that someone had pick pocketed Atul. After a long ritual, Atul took out a coin from his bag. He battled the rush and reached towards Marvan and gave him a coin.

Marvan was livid at this gesture. At once he stopped singing. His friends felt infuriated. Marvan stood up and shouted, “I not sing to beg.” Marvan felt insulted. He angrily pushed Atul and put the coin in Atul’s pocket.

Atul calmly started explaining. “If you carefully observe the coin, you will notice that it’s a coin of 1959. This coin was given by Tabla Ustad Mohan to his student Meera for her terrific singing. She was the best classical singer India produced during those days. I am her son. She taught me to sing and invested a lot of energy and effort in me. But I could not become a good singer. When she was on her death bed, she gave me this one rupee coin and said, give this coin to the most deserving singer of your era.For 37 years, I have carried this coin with me. And today I give it to you. Please accept it as a gift and not as a charity.”

Marvan examined the coin for a brief moment. He sat down on his window seat and put the coin in his wallet. After a few seconds he got back to his singing. The friends started humming and Atul’s station arrived. Atul got down and the train zipped past the platform. Marvan continued singing till the train reached Bharatgadh.

Image credit:André François McKenzie

Jay Gandhi is a thirty-four year old poet residing in Mumbai, India. He's an Accountant by profession, a Guitarist and a Yoga Practitioner. He derives inspiration from mundane things. Poetry is his tool to find beauty in the daily routine. His poetry has been featured in anthologies such as Persian Sugar in English Tea, Poets on the Run, Saffron Flavoured Rock Candy and Once upon a meal. His poems have been published by the online magazine Muddy River Poetry Review and have made it to the front page of PoetryCircle.com. In free time, Jay likes to walk for long distances.