How many times in your life have decided to to do something based on an impulse?? Or have you ever just decided to go someplace at some whim or fancy of yours putting all your everyday chores on hold?? If not, have you at least reached the juncture where you do feel like doing that?? If so, then you are dreamer. Definitely a dreamer!! "Time stops at Shamli" is one such story by Ruskin Bond. But, then Ruskin Bond was always a writer who took his readers into a different world, through the eyes of Rusty, through the lanes and by lanes of Almore, Mussoorie, Ranikhet, Nainital..... and other hill stations of that region. The way he wrote, was always capable of making you float like a cloud across those mountains on a crazy winter morning. His most controversial work till date has been "The Sensualist". More about that later.
Shamli, is a small hill side station, which our male protagonist keeps passing on his trip to and fro to a certain place in the mountains from Delhi. Everytime, he sees this quiet and sleepy station, he wonders about what lies beyond the walls of the railway station. Will it be as quiet as the station or would be more sleepy. Every time the train stopped at Shamli, he was intrigued to find out. One such stop couldn't keep him seated in the train. He decided to stop by at Shamli. And see what's there to be seen. He went ahead to find the only lodge in town, owned by a rather old man. Rumour had it that his wife, who was extremely pretty, but years younger. This seemed to be the only bright speck for him to look forward in an otherwise dreary town. He felt like regretting his decision. The people who came in at the hotel lounge were all locals who had just dropped in for a friendly visit to the lodge owner. And then it began to rain, and it rained very hard. It seemed that nature had unleashed it's fury for a purpose that night....... what would that be??
To him the rain proved to be a deterrent as the lines ahead had been damaged and would take another day to repair. So he was stuck at Shamli now. Dejected, he took in the garden...... as he kept walking staring at the different hues of the grass that grew he noticed a lady standing there. It was Sushma. Unable to believe his eyes, he had to blink a couple of times just to be sure. Time seemed to stop. Sushma, was his only love till date, whom he had to let go when she got forced into marriage by her parents. But, what was she doing there. Seeing him there, Sushma was equally surprised. They did a lot of catching up, and he came to know, she was the lodge owner's gorgeous wife. he laughed to himself. The old love got rekindled as they were caught in the rain. The cold rain, set afire their love..... and to that which could have unified them for ever!! But that was never to be, as Sushma broke away from him and raced back to the lodge... with him calling out after her and asking her to join him the next day when he leaves Shamli.
The next day she never showed up. Heart-broken he made his way to the station. He found her waiting for him. She held his hands and then explained to him why despite her heart craving to go away from the god-forsaken place, she can't do so. She had a husband and a kid, and her responsibilities toward both and thus cannot just run away with him. It was not meant to be and they should carry on with their lives. And then the train snaked away................ With the time at Shamli tucked away into the corner of his mind..... stopped and frozen to be relived later!!
This is short was the essence of the entire story. The interpretation is mine all the way, and having read this story aeons ago, I believe there would be some inconsistencies with the actual story. But then, the story as such tells us that we should realise what is meant to be and what not. And when the time comes, no matter how tough the decision is, it has to be taken!!