The Canvas of Love

9:00 PM, Sealdah, West Bengal

Darjeeling mail is waiting on platform no. 12. Hurriedly, passengers are boarding the train, trying to find their allotted seats, and keeping their luggage safe in the compartment.

Amidst the hustle and whistle on the railway platform, there could be seen someone who prefers to be quiet. A young girl wearing a blue long skirt, a white cropped top, and a sky-blue dupatta around her neck, boards the train and finds her seat beside the window. Placing her luggage and sitting on her seat, she calls her parents.

“Everything is fine, Maa. Please don’t worry, I am all right.” Sajee informs her mother on phone.

Meanwhile, the other passengers start coming to the compartment. A middle-aged couple comes and places their luggage below the lower berth. They look very simple. The woman is draped in a green cotton saree and the man is wearing a grey kurta and white pajama. Like a typical couple, they start chattering about their household things right after they make themselves comfortable, on the left edge of the seat in front of Sajee’s.

After some minutes, a tall, fair, and beautiful woman, clad in a salwar suit, wearing glasses, comes with her little daughter holding in her lap. She matches the seat number according to her ticket and finds it right in front of Sajee.

Sajee looks at the youngest passenger of the compartment while her mother is busy keeping their luggage with the help of the coolie. In the meantime, a new passenger has just arrived. The man is wearing a yellow kurta with batik painting, paired with blue jeans. Apart from the attire, the ektara on his hands grabs the attention of all other co-passengers in the compartment. He sits on his seat and keeps is only luggage, a small bag on his lap.

The middle-aged couple seems interested in initiating a conversation with the singer, as they wanted the same with the mother but failed somehow. This time, however, they succeed and the singer starts talking to them spontaneously.

But their conversation interrupts as an old man arrives with the TTE. “There’s 25, my seat!!” he exclaims pointing Sajee. The TTE comes to her, and requests to swap the seat with seat number 31, in front of the bohemian singer. Sajee could have protested, but she is reluctant to indulge in any argument right now, so she compromises with ease.

“Here you go, Sir! Please make yourself comfortable. Have a safe and happy journey!”, saying this the TTE leaves.

As soon as the old man sits on his desired seat, he becomes overjoyed; adoring, loving, and caring for the seat like her beloved. Sajee doesn’t say anything to him as she has already started liking this old man’s childish activities.

All six seats are occupied now. Right before the train starts preparing to leave, the seventh and eighth passengers of the compartment board the train. As they come and find their seat, the train leaves the platform and heads towards Haldibari.

These newest passengers are a young couple in their twenties. The girl is cladded in a palazzo and long kurti and the boy, jeans and a jacket. The husband sits beside the old man but the wife doesn’t sit; rather, she goes for a stroll. She doesn’t even care for their luggage. Placing the baggage carelessly below the lower berth, the husband keeps staring at her wife afar, who is standing on the door of the train.

Time passes by as the clock never stops ticking. The compartment keeps witnessing the melancholy of its passengers as they eat, drink, talk, sing, and sleep.


Sajee is a depression survivor. She went into trauma when her fiancé left her for the ankle injury she had when she met an accident two years ago. “You’re now a defected girl, and I can’t marry someone who is not perfect”, accused Abheek when the doctor confirmed that Sajee will be unable to walk or stand properly ever again as before. They made a lot of plans for their future life that was meant to be spent together. But, Abheek left a heartbroken Sajee only to be dragged toward the deepest of pain. For the last two years, she was into therapies and medication, and now, finally, she has recovered from the trauma. Sajee wanted to go on a vacation in the mountain to prepare her mind before starting everything afresh.

Mr. and Mrs. Sengupta spent twenty years of their marriage with a sweet-and-sour relationship with life. Though Mrs. Sengupta has an unfulfilled wish hidden in her heart, Mr. Sengupta has accepted the fact that they can’t become parents and this is how they have to spend the rest of their lives. For him, his wife is nothing sort of a child because he takes care of her just like a doting father.

Dr. Alokprabha Mukherjee is a renowned cardiologist in the city. One day, while entering her apartment, she saw something besides the main gate. It was raining heavily, but something called her to go there. Reaching, she saw there a small baby girl wrapped in a piece of cloth, was left alone. The expert doctor could understand that the baby would be choked if she didn’t rush her to the hospital within one hour. Finally, she could save her life after a long fight with destiny, and after a few months, she adopted the baby as her daughter and named her Brishti.

Raya and Rehaan were love birds since their first semester of college. Going against their family for their marriage, they promised to spend their entire life holding each other’s hands. However, things turned worse when Rehaan left his corporate job to become a wildlife photographer and started spending more time outside. Raya became suspicious about his extra-marital affair that never existed outside of her mind, and the misunderstandings reached its extreme only to make them apart from each other, deciding to get divorced. As requested by Rehaan, Raya came for a short vacation before leaving him forever.

Gouranga, the baul singer is going to attend a folk music event in New Jalpaiguri. Far away from worldly chaos, he is in pursuit of divinity and has dedicated his life to the quest for love through music.

Mr. Kamalesh Dev Burman, the retired professor is going to Darjeeling for a special occasion. All along his life, he was famous for his calm and dignified personality. But now he has become childish after losing his wife last year.


12:00 AM, inside Darjeeling Mail

The compartment suddenly wakes up from sleep. Someone turns on all the lights in the compartment. With sleepy eyes, everyone looks at seat number 25. A cake is kept there.

“We are extremely sorry, ladies and gentlemen. But we wanted to celebrate this very hour with you all. Today is Suzie’s 70th birthday, as she has been a happy-go-lucky person all along her life, she wants you all to be with us when she will cut the cake. We wish you join us in the celebration children!

Suzie, come, let’s cut the cake.”

Mr. Dev Burman adores the seat again, then cut the cake, and distributes it to all. Everyone is shocked as they are still confused about what’s going on. The old man realizes this and asks them to sit.

“We went on our last vacation in Darjeeling to spend Suzie’s birthday there. She was sitting here, in seat number 25. All along the trip, she was very happy. I never understood that she was feeling unwell because she wanted to hide it from me. We were enjoying life together. As we returned to Kolkata after one week, she breathed her last the next morning.

But I never believe she is not with me. See, she is smiling, hearing this old man’s gibberish talks. That’s my Suzie, always smiling.”

The co-passengers spend a few more hours hearing the love story of Mr. Dev Burman and Suzie. In between, they relive their own stories with the hope to write a new chapter.


The next morning, when the train is about to arrive at New Jalpaiguri in thirty minutes, Sajee looks at her co-passengers.

Brishti is awake now. Sitting on her mother’s lap, she is busy in playing with the Sengupta couple.  

Raya and Rehan, sipping on their cups of tea, stealing glances at each other. They have decided to give themselves a second chance.

Gouranga, as usual, indifferent to the humdrum of life, starts strumming his ektara, humming “dekhechi rupsagore moner manush kacha sona..”

Mr. Dev Burman is restful in his seat with closed eyes, keeping the photo frame of Suzie on his chest.

Sajee realizes how beautifully the strokes of love adorn life like a pot of flowers. She smiles, and turns her face outside the window. Breathing long, she hugs herself tightly. The cold air blows her hair.

All at once, she falls in love with life.

(This story is written for season 3 of StorytellersBlogHop, hosted by MeenalSonal and Ujjwal Mishra.

You can read the short story I wrote for the Storytellers Blog Hop season 2 here.)

Authors Note:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This content is copyrighted by Swarnali Nath and is not allowed to use for any purpose without the prior permission of the writer.

Baul is an eminent folk music as well as an order of devotional and religious singers of Bengal.

Ektara is a musical instrument with only one string that generates sound to accompany the singer. I have used Ektara as a metaphor for bonding people with the string of love.

Brishti means Rain in Bengali.

Sajee means Bucket that Carries Flowers. I wanted to paint a canvas of love where Sajee is witnessing the colorful blossoms welcome spring into her life when she is preparing for a new beginning.

41 responses to “The Canvas of Love”

  1. The way you have brought out the passengers in the coach is lovely. Everything is contagious, just like the old man’s love for this wife, celebrating her birthday after her death with a bunch of strangers. That spontaniety and madness can only come with love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh! I am in love with your narration and story. Everything was perfect: the train setting, the description and back story of the characters, and the beautiful end. Just a few typos here and there, but they didn’t take away from the story at all. All the very best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read you for the first time through bloghop. Your story was very familiar as I had already written some stories on train journey and this was so nostalgic kind of.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story certainly showed many shades of love, but i felt it got too overcrowded with characters as i had to re read who was whom. Loved the narration and how you have managed to give a story to all your characters in such a limited scope.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Once of the best stories read so far…the way the premise is set…then to the character arcs, and to the conclusion is easily the best…

    Could see the passionate writer there..

    All the very best for your future

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I found this story to be quite interesting and engaging. The way the you introduced each character and their background, made it easy for me to connect with them and understand their perspectives. The train journey seemed like a perfect setting to showcase the different personalities and the interactions among them. I particularly liked how you portrayed Sajee’s journey of recovery from depression and trauma. It was heartwarming to see her overcoming her pain and trying to start anew. The way this story touched upon some important social issues like child adoption and infertility, added depth to the plot. Overall, it’s a well-written story that kept me hooked till the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have told us many stories in one but still we never get confused with the characters. Every character has a backstory that teaches a life lesson to the readers and finally how you wrapped it all at one place is just awesome. What a beautiful take on the prompt shades of love


  8. The best story is here so many characteristics traveling in the train and loved the emphasis you gave to self love rightly one cannot pour from the empty cup and that is why self love helps in living life to the fullest.


  9. Everyone has their stories. I loved how you have connected all the stories together and made a beautiful canvas.

    Heartwarming. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved your narration, Swarnali. I felt like I was sitting on the train and experiencing the story as a co-passenger.
    Life is too short to overlook any kind of love:)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your have woven a great story that definetly painted the canvas with different shades of love. The crystal clear characterization made it a great read. I loved the ending where everyone was willing to give life a second chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for loving the story, MeenalSonal. Means a lot. Thanks for hosting this blog hop, it helped me write fiction stories after long. Thanks for organizing this. 🙂


  12. I felt like I was reading the beginning of a novel. The characters are very well describe. Also, love how you’ve choosen to address to every stage of life. All stories, independent, yet corresponded to each other in a perfect harmony. You should definitely think about expanding this story more!


  13. You have a unique way of narration and I feel in love with it instantly. Loved the train setup and how beautiful you brought strangers together for a while to glimpse each other’s shade of love. You happens in every moment. All the shades – lost love, new love, old live, forever love- elegantly captured in this short story. I throughly enjoyed reading it.


  14. Loved your style of narration! the way you described each character was so beautiful and real. We have all met these people in our daily lives. the shade of love you have highlighted is so crucial sometimes to give perspective to our own life stories. congratulations for this lovely story 🙂


  15. A very different kind of story, your narration has made the compartment come to life. I could clearly see the trademark essence of your writing in character building. Nice to have read such a story.


  16. You have painted the canvas beautifully with all shades of love, Love for partner while being together and beyond, craving for a child, being a parent to an adopted child, Love for music, Madly in love to loads to insecurity. And a person with no hope or love left within. All these weave and ignite self love and care from within. Simply loved each and every shade of love.


  17. What a beautiful setting Swarnali. I must say I was immediately transported to my childhood where train journeys such as these were an integral part of growing up, meeting new people and gathering experiences. Now coming to this story, it was an absolute pleasure reading this one, so many emotions and feelings, all laid out in a simple manner for the readers to read and rejoice. Sometimes, living the wishes of our loved ones are the best ways to honor their memories. We take life for granted and feel that grass is always greener on the other side, but in reality, if we try and find happiness within our existing relationships, things work out for the better. I am happy to read this story Swarnali!


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