An Unusual Experience – REAL STORY
The train wheezed through Kharagpur station. Yawn, I am tired dear. It has been so arduous indeed. The bald fellow swapped all my energy. The darn Head of the interview panel, my foot. Ever heard an interview lasting 3 hours? My god.
The compartment is all but empty now. It is 10-25 at night. Shall hit Howrah what time? May be around 12-00 night. OK, let’s see. Cabs simply loot nowadays. Chalo, we’ll face the inevitable.
‘Dada, have a match box?’ I am surprised. Yo, where was the young man in the compartment? Couldn’t notice this lean pale boy. I have been travelling from Chennai all the way in this train. Anyway.who cares!
‘Yah, here’. I gave my match box.
‘Dada, Cigarette?’ He offered me a cigarette. I accept. Thanks, a smoke would be fine. Capstan? The brand, I say, was popular years back. My dad was a Capstan fad.
The boy about my age says ‘Coming from interview?’
Now I am really taken aback. ‘How do you know that?’
The frail boy replies ‘Simple, I am also engineering graduate, appeared in episodes of interview. The tension writs large on your face.’, he declares emphatically. Admirable, indeed; his observation, I admit. I have now a friend here. I open up my deluge of complaints over the gruelling interviews I am having to face to get a decent job after passing out from engineering college. He listened with apt attention, encouraged me to keep up the good work. Panskura station, a few minutes stop.
He says ‘let me get some water’.
2 minutes gone, where is the fellow? Sheet, let me see. I got down from the train, look here and there for the boy. Bloody hell, he will miss the train. Yes, here he is, buying bananas. He calls me. Shall I? He says ‘don’t worry, train will not leave’. I proceed towards the stall.
The train starts with a shrill whistle. I sprint in desperation to catch it. Miss by a whisker. Oh God, what shall I do now? I turn back terribly angry. Where is the bugger? I have to teach him a lesson. A roam in the platform like a mad bull to search for the fellow. He has simply vanished. Coward, I say. Bad luck. Have to wait for the last local to Howrah. Who knows what time I will reach, and those darn taxi drivers will make life miserable at night. I shower all the dirty Gali’s learnt ritualistically by an engineering graduate in a college, towards the boy who have made me to get down from the train at such dead at night.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. Last local to Howrah never came. I slept at platform bench. A coolie pushed me from slumber.
‘Babu, go to waiting room; Chennai Mail met with accident in Balichak. All trains in this route stopped’.
‘WHAT????’ I rushed to the station master. Old man of about 60. The fatherly person inquired.
‘What’s up, my boy? You seem to be a bit upset, wait; let me finish my jobs first, big accident, about 20 dead, it is informed.’
After an hour, he looked at me. I narrated the entire story, described the boy and asked for his help to find out the boy who has simply vanished in this station. The station master kept looking at me with all kindness.
He says slowly ‘about 20 years back this boy as you have seen was coming from Chennai after an interview. He was IIT, Kharagpur graduate and I know his late dad who was a professor here and had been a friend of mine. The train met with accident and the boy met with tragic death. He has saved you from certain death today, son. We boast of knowledge and what not in this modern world. Can you explain this with logic, my son?’
The old man slowly got up, asked me to stay in the waiting room at night and go home next morning.
Today I am old. How can I forget the day I met the frail boy at train? Certain things can never be explained.