The Priceless Trunk

The Priceless Trunk

I tugged my bag under and stretched myself on the cushion seat of the Rajdhani express that I boarded from Mumbai Central to Delhi. The passengers’ list updated me that this four-seater coupe was only mine until Surat. 

A severe judder interrupted my reverie as the train halted in Surat. I opened my eyes to see a septuagenarian clad in veshti* and shirt waking me up. ‘Yeh Hamara seat hai,'(This is our seat) he bellowed.

Yenna*, Wake him, wake him,” chanted a colossal lady right behind him, and yet another lady in tow said, “Anna* wake him.” 

 I knew Anna meant big brother in Tamil, but what did Yenna mean? It was confirmed one of the ladies was the gentleman’s sister, but I had to explore his relationship with the other lady. 

That wasn’t the matter of contention now; the severe issue was the trunk that they brought in along with seven other luggages. They started pushing stuff here and there while my poor bag went through some torture.

However, I was more than shocked to see the gentleman place the trunk between him and me on the seat. 

“Sir, why don’t you place it down there?” I pointed to a space under one lady’s feet.

He glanced at me as if I had asked for one of his kidneys, and chose to ignore me.

Apart from the elder man taking extreme care of the trunk, the two ladies kept cautioning him, “Anna, the trunk is locked, right?” “Yenna, make sure the trunk is locked.”

When the older man had to answer nature’s call, the trunk shifted to the opposite seat between the ladies. They seemed to move it effortlessly. I wondered what was in that trunk which looked a century old.

As the train approached Nagda Jn, I opened a packet of biscuits. For courtesy sake, I offered them, but they looked aghast at me. This time it was as if I had asked for everyone’s kidneys. The septuagenarian made exemplary eye moments towards the ladies, strictly warning them against accepting my offer.

Amused by their gestures, I devoured a few biscuits. 

As the train approached Kota, where they were supposed to descend, the trio began picking the other entire luggage but just threw the trunk beneath the seat. 

“Sir, you have left the trunk,” I reminded them.

“Bah! We don’t need it anymore. The gold is safe here,” the colossal lady said, patting at the black bag that had been lying on the top birth all this while. 

The gentleman leaned towards me, “What did you think you could rob us off by giving us the biscuits laced with sleeping pill powder? Even if you had chloroformed us, you would have taken the trunk, assuming it had some valuables. This was our drama to save the gold.”

“Yenna let us go.” “Anna, let us go,” the two ladies pushed the man out as I looked on in awe. 

‘Was I, a twenty-year-old male student, looking like a thief?’
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Anna——– A term used to address big brother
Yenna——-A term generally used by married ladies to address their husbands
Veshti——-Dhoti is referred to as Veshti in Tamil-Nadu
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