A fellow Traveller By -A.G.Gardiner

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A fellow-Traveller (सह-यात्री)
Written by -A.G.Gardiner

I do not know which of us got into the carriage (गाड़ी/वाहन) first. Indeed I did not know he was in the carriage at all for some time. It was the last train from London to a Midland town- a stopping (पैसेंजर) train, an infinitely (मुख्य रूप से) leisurely( धीमी) train one of those trains which give you an understanding of eternity (अनन्तता). It was tolerably (खचा-खच) full when it started, but as we stopped at the suburban (उप-नगरीय) stations the travellers alighted (उतरे) in ones and twos, and by the time we had left the outer ring (बाहरी परिधि) of London behind. I was alone- or rather, I thought I was alone.

There is a pleasant (सुखद) sense (अनुभव) of freedom about being alone in a carriage that is jolting (झटका देती हुई) noisily through the night, It is liberty and unrestraint in a very agreeable form. You can do anything you like. You can talk to yourself as loud as you please and no one will hear you. You can have the argument (तर्क-वितर्क)out with jones and roll him triumphantly in the dust without fear of a counterstroke (बदले का प्रहार). You can stand on your head and no one will see you. You can sing, or dance a two-step, or practice a golf stroke, or play marbles (कंचे, गोलियां) on the floor without let or hindrance (बाधा, रोक). You can open the window or shut it without provoking a protest (प्रतिरोध के). You can open both windows or shut both. Indeed (वास्तव में) you can go on opening them and shutting them as a sort of festival (पर्व) of freedom. You can have any corner you choose and try all of them in turn. You can lie at full length on the cushions (गद्दों) and enjoy the luxury (आराम, विलासिता) of breaking the regulations (अधिनियम) and possibly the heart of D.O.R.A. (Defence of Realm Act, राज्य सुरक्षा अधिनियम) herself. Only D.O.R.A. will not know that her heart broken. You have escaped (बचना) even D.O.R.A.

On this night I did not do any of these things. They did not happen to occur (सूझना) to me. What I did was much more ordinary (साधारण). When the last of my fellow-passengers had gone I put down my paper, stretched (फैलाय) my arms and my legs, stood up and looked out of the window on the calm summer night through which I was journeying, nothing the pale (धुंधला) reminiscence (स्मृति, याद) of day that still lingered (ठहरी) in the northern sky; crosses the carriage (गाड़ी का डब्बा) and looked out of the other window; lit (जलाया) a cigarette, sat down, and began to read again. It was then that I became aware (अवगत) of my fellow-traveller (सह-यात्री). He came and sat on my nose. He was one of those wingy (कीट-पतंगे), nippy (तेज), intrepid (निडर) insects (कीड़ा) that we call, vaguely (स्पष्ट रूप से), mosquitoes (मच्छर). I flicked him off my nose and he make a tour (दौरा) of the compartment (डब्बा) investigated( पड़ताल किया) its three dimensions (आयामों), visited each window fluttered (फड़फड़ाया) round the light, decided that there was nothing interesting as that large animal in the corner, came and had a look at my neck.

I flicked (उड़ाया) him off again. He skipped (बच के निकला) away, took another jaunt (छोटा) round the compartment, returned and seated (बैठा) himself impudently (अभद्रता पूर्वक) on the back of my hand. It is enough, I said : magnanimity (उदारता) has its limits. Twice (दो बार) you have been warned (चेताया) that I am someone in particular (विशेष), that my august (शाही) person (व्यक्तित्व) resents (बुरा मानना) the tickling (गुदगुदाने वाली) impertinence (बदतमीजी, गुस्ताख़ी) of strangers (अजनवियों). I assume (धारण करना) the black cap. I condemn (दोषी क़रार देना) you to death. Justice (न्याय) demands it, and the court awards (प्रदान करना) it. The counts (दोष) against (ख़िलाफ़) you are many. You are a vagrant (आवारा); you are a public nuisance (कष्ट देने वाला), you are travelling without a ticket; you have no meat coupon (राशन कार्ड). For these and many other misdemeanours (दुराचरण) you are about to die. I struck (प्रहार किया) a swift (तेज), lethal (घातक) blow (घूंसा) with my right hand. He dodged (बच गया) the attack with an with an insolent (अपमान जनक) ease (आसानी से) that humiliated (अपमानित किया) me. My personal vanity (गरिमा) was aroused (जाग गयी). I lunged at him with my hand, with my paper; I jumped on the seat and pursued (पीछा किया)him around the lamp; I adopted (अपनाया)tactics (चालाकी) of feline (बिल्ली) cunning (चालाक), waiting till he had alighted (उतरा), approaching (पहुँचते हुए) with a horrible (भयानक) stealthiness (चुपके से), striking (मारते हुए) with a sudden (अचानक) and terrible (खतरनाक) swiftness (फुर्ती).

It was all in vain. He played with me, openly and ostentatiously (दंभ पूर्वक), like a skillful (कुशल) matador (सांड से लड़ने वाला) finessing round (पैंतरा काटते हुए) an infuriated (क्रोधित) bull. It was obvious (स्पष्ट) that he was enjoying himself, that it was for this that he had disturbed my repose (शांति): He wanted a little sport, and what sport like being chased (पीछा) by this huge (विशालकाय), lumbering (भारी) windmill (पवन-चक्की) of a creature (प्राणी), who tasted so good and seemed so helpless and so stupid (मूर्ख)? I began to enter into the spirit of the fellow. He was no longer a mere insect, He was developing into a personality, and intelligence that challenged the possession (अधिकार) of this compartment with me on equal terms (बराबर). I felt my heart warming (फिरते हुए) towards him and the sense of superiority (उच्चता) fading (कम होते हुए). How could I feel superior to a creature who was so manifestly (स्पष्ट रूप से) my master in the only competition in which we had ever engaged (व्यस्त)? Why not be magnanimous (उदार) again? Magnanimity and mercy (दया) were the noblest (सबसे आदर्श) attributes (गुण) of man. In the exercise of these high qualities I could recover (वापस प्राप्त करना) my prestige (सम्मान). At present I was a ridiculous (हास्यास्पद) figure, a thing for laughter and derision (उपहास). By being merciful (दयावान) I could reassert (साबित करना) the moral (नैतिक) dignity (गरिमा) of man and go back to my corner with honour. I withdraw (वापस लिया) the sentence (दण्ड) of death. I said returning to my seat. I cannot kill you, but I can reprieve (दण्ड-स्थगन) you. I do it.

 I took up my paper and he came and sat on it. Foolish (मूर्ख) fellow (साथी), I said, you have delivered (पहुंचा दिया) yourself into my hands have but to give this respectable (सम्मानित) weekly organ (अंग) of opinion (राय) smack (भींचना) on both the covers and you are corpse (लाश), neatly (सफाई से) sandwiched (भींचना) between an article (लेख) on ‘peace Traps’ and another on ‘The Modesty of Mr. Hughes’. But I shall not do it. I have reprieved (दण्ड-मुक्त) you, and I will satisfy (संतुष्ट) you that when this large animal says a thing he means (पूरा करना) it. Moreover (फिर भी) , I no longer desire to kill you. Through knowing you better I have come to feel- shall I say? – a sort of affection (स्नेह) for you. I fancy (कल्पना करना) that St. Francis would have called you ‘little brother’. I cannot go so far as that in Christian charity (दान) and civility (शिष्टाचार). But I recognize (पहचान) a more distant (दूर का) relationship (रिश्ता). Fortune (भाग्य) has made us fellow-travellers on this summer night. I have interested you and you have entertained (मनोरंजन किया)me. The obligation (अहसान) is mutual (पारस्परिक) and it is founded (स्थापित) on the fundamental (आधारभूत) fact that we are fellow mortals (नश्वर). The miracle (चमत्कार) of life is ours in common (सामान्य) and it’s mystery (रहस्य) too. I suppose (मानना) you don’t know anything about your journey. I am not sure that I know about mine (मेरे अपने). We are really when you come to think of it, a good deal (बहुत हद तक) alike just apparitions (मृत-आत्माएं) that are and then are not, coming out of the night into the lighted (प्रकाशित) carriage (दुनिया), fluttering (फड़फड़ाते हुए) about the lamp for a while and going out into the night again. Perhaps (शायद)……………….

“Going on to-night, sir?” said a voice at the window. It was a friendly (मित्रवत) porter (कुली) giving me a hint (संकेत) that this was my station. I thanked him and said I must have been dozing (ऊँघना, झपकी लेना) And seizing (पकड़ कर) my hat and stick (छड़ी) I went out into the cool summer night. As I closed the door of the compartment saw my fellow-traveller fluttering round the lamp……………..

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