Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
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Ritaban Bandyopadhyay

Abstract Drama Others


4.5  

Ritaban Bandyopadhyay

Abstract Drama Others


Devil and the Train Tracks

Devil and the Train Tracks

5 mins 284 5 mins 284

Yet another passing train breaks my disturbed siesta. I can feel the sun directly above me, it is a hot afternoon; even the platform shed is redundant. I open my eyes and look squarely at the bench at my adjacent shed some distance away. She is still there; her one leg resting on the other while the foot continuously taps on the floor like a caged bird hurting the bars. She is chewing gum while her eyes remain fixed on her mobile screen, she doesn’t blink. I am observing her like this for the past two and a half hours. This small station of Garia hasn’t seen such a story in some time. I haven’t seen such a story in some time; or maybe I never cared to search for one, to sit and think.


She is a teenager, a schoolgirl at an odd place, somewhere she isn’t meant to be. I recognise the uniform – the white shirt and red plated skirt. She isn’t supposed to be at a busy station at such a time of the day. During my observation, I have seen a lot of eyes turning to her; confused eyes and astonished eyes but most importantly, hungry eyes – eyes that feast on a teenager’s body. She is a handsome young girl, oblivious to the surroundings she is in. The first time her oddity struck me, I realised I have been staring at her heedlessly; I was drown in my own thoughts. Two trains passed the small platform and a lot of crowd dispersed but she sat on the bench unhinged. She neither intended to move it seemed. She strangely felt out of the crowd to me. Maybe it is her dress which made her conspicuous or maybe it was just me whose vision caught her amidst the varying crowd of strugglers at daily war. For an instant, I forgot what I was thinking and just kept staring, trying to figure out her story. I thought to myself ‘let me see for some time. Let’s see if she boards the next train’.

And I have lost my count of trains that passed since. I kept on waiting for another train, delaying my own cause. Thoughts started to brim in my head and take over mine own just like in a game of Othello.

Maybe she is waiting for someone, maybe her boyfriend. She might be bunking school to go to some place, some mall maybe. Maybe she and her friends planned it together and dumped her at the final moment to put her in a predicament. Maybe she just needs a break from her daily life. But the question that kept on popping up and which is still pricking me is ‘Is she disturbed? Is she going to commit suicide?’ The moment this came up in my mind, the image became quite clear: a sudden movement, four paces and a hesitant jump. A daily picture would dissolve into blood and chaos. And yet I decided to stay. I don’t know what I will do if she really decides to end her life but due to some reason, with every impending train, I imagined her springing up and sprinting to her end. But she didn’t; she just sat there.


I started to paint pictures in the canvas of my mind, all the while keeping an eye on my subject. She is an artist whose art isn’t being appreciated as it is ahead of its time. But this is quite irrelevant for a schoolgirl and so was my next assertion that she is in financial distress and her family is on the brink of collapse. And I again went back to relationship complications. She is amidst of an ugly breakup and emotional breakdown. She is waiting for her boyfriend who might never come and just like me, with every incoming train, she is expecting something. There may be totally different issues. She might be bullied at her school, maybe she has some disability, and maybe she is homosexual who is forced to curb her desires. Maybe she is under a lot of pressure of this modern education and just fails to keep up the bars. Whatever it might be, she seemed to be hanging; torn between the Devil and the rail tracks. There are a lot of reasons to die and a few to live, indeed, especially to someone who doesn’t want to. I would glance at my watch at times and keep a vague count of time. The number of passing trains has become my primary way of counting.


Whenever a train came, I closed my eyes and re-opened after it was gone to check whether she boarded it or stayed there, like a child expecting a new flavour from a box of chocolates. Every time, I have found her in the same place. This is the last train that I decided to wait for. It has been a long time I have waited, stayed to see how the story ends but it seems it shall remain incomplete for me.

I take a quick look across. The platform is getting crowded once again; it is almost 12.30 and a rush hour at this station. I need to go now. For the last time I look at her. Something gets me; she is staring back at me. I never thought this might happen. She rises up from her seat and grabs her bag. Thoughts flood through my head; a muscle above my right eye flickers involuntarily. But she doesn’t head towards the railway lines but starts to approach to me. I am even more stupefied. She walks up to me, stares directly into my befuddled eyes and says, ‘Sir, I am here for almost two and a half hour and am seeing you since I got here. I am observing you and you seem quite disoriented. Sir, by any means, are you here to end your life?’


The chaos of the station fades away as silence grips me. I am in total shock as the question strikes me out of nowhere. The straightforwardness gets me and I am unable to suppress my emotions any more. ‘Yes’, I reply, trying to gulp down the sudden mass in my throat.


‘Please don’t sir. I really don’t know what problem you are going through but it will get better. Just hang in there sir, you are good, sir. You are good.’ And she leaves the station, leaving me in my own story.


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