“Damn!” swore Tana as she watched the train slowly pulling away from the platform just as she ran onto it. The next one wasn’t due for the next 25 minutes and she was going to be terribly late for her appointment. This was yet another event in the “What else can go wrong today?” series that seemed to be playing on loop in Tana’s life these days. Small disasters seemed to be lurking around each corner, just waiting to trip her up and watch her fall. She was convinced that she heard the evil laughter of the mishap maniac, every time she fell down, which made her all the more determined to pick herself up and move on. She decided that she would never give him the satisfaction of winning but would crawl even if she didn’t have the energy to run or walk.
So, stepping back a little, Tana was a young woman who had left the comfort of her medium sized town and middle class family to try her hand in the big city as a free lance journalist. With the relevant education under her belt, she could have joined any newspaper as a rookie reporter but she was not interested in covering mundane stories. She wanted to choose what she wanted to report. Well, that is easy if you have a few years experience. However, she persisted. It had been 4 years now that she had been struggling. It was not that she didn’t get any pieces published but they were few and far between and so heavily edited that she sometimes wondered whether she actually wrote them. She took up ghost-writing on the side to make ends meet.
The struggle was taking a toll on her and she was wondering if it was really worth it. However she didn’t know the meaning of giving up. So, on she went. This particular day, she had an appointment with the editor of a daily, She was looking forward to a steady stream of work if she convinced the editor but now, she was depressed thinking of the impression that she would make if she turned up late for the meeting. On top of that , she didn’t have any concrete idea and would have to wing it.
First, the electricity had conked off again and the gas cylinder chose this morning to announce that it was empty. With no coffee to start the day, she stepped into the cold shower and shivered into her clothes. Then, when she stepped out in time to catch the train, her shoes thought that it was a good day to quietly die on her. The trip back to the apartment to change them ate into her time and her confidence. That gait and that preen that you get from a perfect pair of shoes is irreplaceable, as every girl knows. And to top it all off, now she missed her train.
She looked around the station to see if she could grab something to eat and saw a kiosk nearby. She got a sandwich and a cup of watery coffee and searched for a seat near the huge fans, dotting the platform. Naturally, there were none empty but she did find one a little bit away. Balancing her bag, food and coffee, she inched slowly to the seat and sat down. When she was about to take a bite, she sensed that somebody was watching her and looked around to see a young boy in the seat next to her. He had a book open in front of him and had apparently been distracted by her. She offered him a “I am sorry” smile and half her sandwich. After they finished eating, they got to talking. He was the son of migrant labourers and didn’t have a place to study for his entrance exams. He used the station as his study and he wanted to graduate and become an entrepreneur in his village, to provide jobs there.
Tana was super impressed by the encounter and the seed of an idea germinated and took strong root. The next train trundled in and she got up to leave. She told Aril (her new friend) that she would be in touch with him. When she reached the editor’s office, after apologising for her tardiness, she broached the idea of a new series. This would cover the lives of normal people with dreams and ambitions. There would be a funding campaign attached to the story. The first story outline was right there – Aril was the star in the first story. The editor agreed that it could be tried and agreed for a three month trial.
Well, this is not a fairy tale. Things didn’t change overnight for Tana but the column was favourably received. She managed to stay afloat and in bits and pieces, built her portfolio. The one good thing was that she knew what she wanted to do – focus on doing good and write too at the same time. She had found her niche. The rest would all fall in place.
Aril got an offer of a place to stay and study from a reader of the column, which he gratefully accepted. He was confident of his hard work and knew that it was a matter of time, before he achieved his dream. He stays in touch with Tana to update her, because of course she has to do a story on him later too. Tana thinks about that “everything went wrong” day and wonders what would have happened if she hadn’t missed her train.