In the beginning of the middle
Train travel always does that. You carry unwanted smells from one place to another. The smell of rust and iron, of grime and dust, of sweat and boredom, of anticipation and tiredness.
She'd refused her early morning tea. She never drank it without brushing her teeth. He pretended to do the same. Slightly angry with her for his pretence, he bought the newspaper which he barely read.
"We get down at the next stop. Be ready.", her new husband said.
When the train pulled in at their station, she read the black letters on the yellow background. They spelt a new life.
Her silk saree in a state of great horror at being treated so- by the same woman who would take it out and sigh fondly into it, rebelled by crumpling some more.
She didn't have too much time to contemplate her first step. She always had a problem with right and left and in the fluster of embarking from a train, she lost which it was. It didn't matter too much anyway. Her mother of customs and traditions was almost one day and a night away.
What were those queer things? Those half-covered, rickety contraptions?
"We'll be taking a cycle rickshaw to get home", his pompous voice sounded again.
Ah, cycle rickshaws!
He couldn't bargain with the beedi smoking guy who pedaled the vehicle that would take them home. He didn't want to sound cheap in front of his new wife.
The pedals moved rhythmically. With each roll of the wheel she was taken a step ahead in her new world.
What were those things up there? High above every house?
He noticed her eyes look up. He read the unasked question in them.
"Do you know what they are?"
She nodded her head in the negative. And the new wife, remembering the request from the night before said, "No"
Pleased, he pointed to the television antennas and replied, "They hang clothes on them to dry."
His new wife nodded her head in understanding and wondered at how tall the people of the place must be to hang clothes so high up.
He laughed at her. She laughed with him.
It did something to him, that innocent laugh of hers. Taking her hand in his, he promised to himself that he will be kind to her.
Blushing at the act of her husband's, she thought, "Perhaps there will be swings"