The Journey14 mins 18.2K 14 mins 18.2K
Somen boarded the 8:02 am train from Borivali station to head to his office towards Bandra. He specifically chose this train as it would often be relatively empty compared to the next one that arrived a few minutes later.
Today was one of the few lucky days, he found his favourite window seat empty and quickly sat on it. He looked around and smiled vaguely at some of the familiar faces he would see each day during his journey.
The train stopped at the next station, Kandivali. As expected the old man embarked on the train and took a seat right opposite him . Somen guessed that was his favourite seat. He had observed the old man getting restless on not finding the seat vacant. With a content look on his face the old man gazed outside the window.
Most of the faces in the train compartment were regular, all heading towards their destinations. Passengers would pass a warm smile towards each other acknowledging them, some would even indulge in brief conversations. At every stop few vegetable vendors would board the train and try their luck, on a few lucky days they would get a good number of buyers.
Mostly Somen would doze off during the journey, but today he could not, he was worried. It was the period of Global Recession, there was severe lay offs going on in his company, he feared the worst. He was well over 40 years, working as an Accounts Manager with an IT firm.
At 9:00 am Somen alighted at the Bandra station and as usual boarded a shared taxi towards his office.
At The Office..
Lately, the atmosphere at his office had been very sombre. Everyone dreaded the HR emails asking for rampant resignations. These emails had now become a regular. Terminations were now in the last phases. Almost 200 people had already been sacked.
Somen found his colleague Vinay is a pensive mood, his laptop was shut and he was lost in his thoughts. Somen held his shoulder and asked in a broken voice,
'What's wrong Vinay?'.
'They have asked me to resign', Vinay managed to say after a long pause.
Somen was shocked, Vinay had spend a decade in the organisation and was a top performer, he had successfully led his team towards achieving the set targets.
'Don't worry, you will find a job soon', Somen finally found his voice and consoled him.
He watched as Vinay carefully packed his laptop, loosened his tie and dragged himself towards the HR Heads cabin to complete the exit formalities.
Trembling with fear Somen slowly walked towards his seat. With trembling hands he logged into his laptop. He felt the laptop was taking forever to load. He wiped the sweat off his forehead and aimlessly stared at every corner of his cubical . His eyes fell on the family portrait which he had placed neatly on his table. He ran his fingers across the smiling faces of Amrita, his wife and Rohan, his six year old son who was seated between them. They had a cheerful grin on their faces. Somen stared at the picture and smiled through his thoughts . He clutched the frame in his hand and kissed it as tears escaped his eyes. With a heavy heart he placed the frame back .
Somen was reeling under tremendous financial pressure. He had a huge loan on his head, Amrita was pregnant with their second child, Rohan was suffering from renal failure and had to undergo dialysis every week. He had taken a hefty loan of 30 lacs for his treatment. Getting help from Amrita's parents was out of question, her parents had disowned her, thanks to their inter-caste marriage. Somen had lost his parents a few years back.
'This job is the only thing. I can't sail through without this only saving grace', he thought as tears filled his eyes.
With trembling hands he navigated the mouse and opened his outlook. He could hear his heart pounding fast as every email arrived and rested into his Inbox. His face turned red as nervousness gripped every inch of him..
'Maybe Vinay was not in the good books of his boss', he was hoping against hope.
'Almost done, all emails are downloaded', he was now relieved. He automatically clicked on the Send/Receive icon just to make sure. There was another email downloading.
His eyes turned hazy, as he tried to open the HR email peeping though his outlook inbox. His hand started shaking vigorously, he could not concentrate. Finally he managed to open the email.
He opened it, wiped the sweat off his forehead and read.
'Your resignation needs to be tendered with immediate effect, 2 months salary would be credited into your account'.
Somen felt a huge punch on his stomach. His head started spinning, he rushed to his boss' cabin and pleaded, ' Sir, I have an ailing child, a wife who is pregnant, a huge loan, I have no support system.,
'My job is also at stake Somen, I wish I could do something to save your job', his boss interrupted him sadly and said.
'Everything is finished, I just have two months salary, what after that?', he pondered for hours together and finally left for home.
'I can't give this news to Amrita, she is already having a difficult pregnancy I can't stress her further, hopefully I should find a job in a months time', he tried hard to convince himself.
He frantically started applying for jobs through every possible channels, news paper ads, job portals, references, he did not leave out any possibility.
Every morning he would pretend to go to office and board the same 8:02 train. He would keep scrolling through his mobile in the hope of receiving an interview call. Slowly he managed to give quite a few interviews, but none clicked.
One morning he sat on his favourite seat and gazed out, the train stopped at Kandivali, the old man embarked and gladly occupied his favourite seat. Somen smiled acknowledging him and got back to his thoughts,
'Hello, my name is Om, What's wrong you looked tensed since the last few days?', the old man asked him.
This was the first time he had spoken to him.
Somen was looking forward to share his fears with someone, 'who could be better than a stranger?' he thought to himself ,
'Hello, I`m Somen, I have lost my job, the new ones are not clicking', Somen said.
'Don't worry you will get one soon, when the time is right', Om ji said assuringly,
'Time is what I don't have, Om ji, I will loose my son to the dreadful disease, all my savings have already exhausted, I just have this months salary in hand, I need to find a job in the next 15 days at any cost', Somen shared his ordeal.
Om ji's expression changed. He felt very sorry for Somen ',
'I pray that you get a job soon', he said. Somen felt good and hopeful after talking to him. 'I have another interview today, hopefully I should crack it', Somen thoughtfully said,
'You would, I'm sure', Om ji firmly asserted.
Sadly, Somen did not clear the interview. He shared the sad news with Om ji the next morning, 'I think my bad luck is not leaving me, I'm in a mess, slowly my wife will also find out, I could not take my son for treatment last week, he is dying in front of me',
'Don't worry have faith, all will be fine', Om ji tried his best to console him.
Somen and Om ji soon grew close. Om ji had lost his wife a few years back and was leading a lonely life. He would visit his daughter's house in Dadar every morning to babysit his grandson while his daughter and son-in-law were away at work.
As days passed, Somen's stress and frustration increased, nothing was working out for him. He was loosing confidence and patience with each passing day. One night as usual he got up late night once Amrita had slept.
He would usually sit on his laptop at this hour and apply for jobs. He walked towards the drawing room and searched for the news paper. He searched through several papers and found it.
His eyes fell on an insurance policy which he had enrolled 5 years back. The policy had a cover for 50 Lacs in case of accidental death. His mind suddenly started racing towards several thoughts, suddenly everything seemed rational to him.
'Yes, this is the only way. I will alight at the Bandra station tomorrow and push myself between the train and the platform gap just when the train starts. It will look like a pure accident .With the insurance money Amrita will be able to continue with Rohan's treatment.
He seemed to have chalked out a perfect solution to free himself off his wretched situation.
Next morning, he had bath, prayed to god and hugged his son tightly, 'Dad, you are hurting me', Rohan almost grasped for his breath', ' Sorry Rohan', Somen said and kissed him good bye, 'I love you',
'Me too Dad', Rohan replied, he was confused.
'Amrita, I'm leaving', Somen turned and called out',
'Yes dear, see you in the evening', Amrita replied.
Somen's heart sank, 'I wish to have you as my wife in my next birth as well', he thought and tried hard to control his tears.
'Somen! Somen!, here is your tiffin', his thoughts were interrupted with Amrita's voice,
Somen grabbed his tiffin and hugged his wife as he silently wiped a tear drop that had escaped his eyes',
'Whats wrong Somen?', Amrita freed herself and concernedly asked',
' Nothing darling, just a little tensed, have a very crucial meeting today', he avoided eye contact with her and replied.
Amrita held his face and said', 'you are a rock star, Somen, I'm sure you will do well',
'Thanks dear', Somen said softly, trying hard to fight back his tears.
He hugged her goodbye and almost ran towards the station, heading towards his last Journey......
Somen could feel a strong gush of nervousness grip his body as the 8:02 am train approached the platform and stopped.
'I can't look back now', he thought to himself and took his seat.
Om ji boarded the train as usual from the next station,
Somen passed a tight smiled and greeted him , 'Hello Om ji, good you came today',
'I come every day Somen', Om ji replied with a warm smile and continued,
'Somen I have a good news for you, I spoke about your job with one of my friend, Sagar, he is looking for an accountant for his start up company, he is ready to hire you'.
Somen stared at him with his mouth wide open, he could suddenly see his life take a U-turn from the jaws of death.
'You go and meet him tomorrow, his office is in Bandra itself, he will hire you, he can't say a 'no' to you as I had given him a large amount of money to start his office, I'll give you his number and address right away,' Om ji said, digging his pockets desperately trying to search for the business card.
'Oh hard luck, guess I left his business card at home, I don't have his number in my mobile as well', Om ji scratched his head and murmured.
Om ji thought for a while and continued, 'I will give you the card tomorrow morning, you can meet him tomorrow directly'.
Somen sighed ,' I can wait for a day', he thought to himself. 'Thank you very much, you have saved me', he held Om ji's hand and sincerely thanked him.
'I know what a job loss can do, I lost my only son in his pursuit to find a livelihood. He was sacked from his company after he fell ill and had to be hospitalised for a month. Once he recovered his all attempts to find a job proved futile. He slipped into depression and disappeared one fine day',
Om ji said with a lump in his throat, 'I could never find him'.
Somen was shocked at the horrifying coincidence.
'I'm sorry Om ji, my situation reminded you of your painful memories'. Somen hugged him and said.
They chatted away sharing their life stories..
The train reached Bandra station, Somen alighted the train and thanked god.
Om ji had appeared right in time, just minutes before his planned suicide, and saved him.
'Oh, I should have taken his mobile number, what if he does not come tomorrow..but he usually does,' lost in thoughts Somen slowly walked towards a restaurant for a cup of tea.
Suddenly, Somen heard a huge blast, he turned and watched in horror, the train from which he had just alighted blew off in flames.
It was a bomb blast.
He rushed towards the train crying out loud, a few men from the crowd pulled him back in time.
Soon the area was sealed as the police vans and the fire brigade personnel started with their yet another job of collecting evidence.
Slowly the crowd dispersed, Somen watched as the ambulances carried the injured and the dead.
Suddenly, he remembered Om ji,
'HE WAS IN THAT COMPARTMENT!!', he shouted insanely pointing at the compartment, the crowd watched him cry inconsolably.
Somen sat outside the station for hours together,
' With that blast, I lost my life as well ,' he kept murmuring. His thoughts were interrupted with his phone frantically ringing, it had been ringing for the past one hour, he finally received it and answered without listening,
'I'm alive as of now', he said and disconnected.
It was Amrita at the other end.
It was late evening, Somen dragged himself back home.
He mechanically hugged Amrita and Rohan, had dinner and dropped to his bed .
Amrita did not disturb him, she knew he was in that train and was glad that the blast took place just as the train had left Bandra station. She wholeheartedly thanked god and slept peacefully. She hugged Somen in her sleep, but tonight her hug was tighter.
Somen kissed her forehead, he knew he was very lucky to have her,
'But what have I done for her, I could not even find a job for myself, due to my unlucky stars Om ji too lost his life' he sadly thought.
'What if he is injured and not dead?,' Somen suddenly saw a ray of hope,
'I'll board the same train tomorrow and check, but what if he is injured and in some hospital?', Several thoughts captivated his mind.
'I need to try my luck once more else I'll have to comply with my earlier plan', he stared at the life insurance papers and thought.
Hoping against hope he quickly had a bath next morning and proceeded towards the station. He could hear his heart pounding as the train braked on the platform.
Somen took his seat and looked around.
The compartment was unusually empty, he could see quite a few new faces, he carefully looked at the familiar faces, most of them were the ones who would alight at Bandra station or before. His heart skipped a beat when his fear was almost warranted, 'this means most of them who were in this train with a destination after Bandra never made it....Om ji?..', he sadly thought as tears filled his eyes.
The train was moving at a slower speed as usual, after a few minutes it stopped at Kandivali.
Loosing hope, Somen dug his face under his palms. He once again made up his mind to comply with his earlier plan, he did not see any way out.
'There is no way he can be alive, with him my last hope of getting a job is blown away, I'm sorry Amrita, I have no other option, he silently wept.
He suddenly looked up as a frail hand touched his head, 'Somen, how are you?', he said,
Somen's eyes were hazy with tears, he wiped his tears and stared.
Om ji was sitting right in front of him with the same content look and smile on his face.
Somen cried with happiness and hugged him, he was more happy to see him alive than the hope of getting the job information,
'How can I go without giving you this', Om ji said and promptly handed him the business card which carried his friends contacts and address,
'Your job is ready, go and meet him', Om ji smiled and said.
'Thanks....you can't imagine what you have done for me, you saved me', Somen kept thanking him while Om ji smiled away.
Somen gathered himself as he observed the people in the compartment staring at him.
For the next one hour they chatted, they promised to meet each other the next day.
Somen alighted on the Bandra station. He took a shared cab to the address given in the card and met Om ji's friend, Sagar.
'Hello, I'm Somen, Om ji asked me to meet you for a ...', Somen introduced himself.
Sagar interrupted him and said, 'Yes, I was waiting for you, Om ji spoke to me about you, you can join tomorrow itself. Om ji wanted me to organise a small welcome party for you, he wanted to surprise you and attend it too.
If only that blast had not taken him away.....he was a great man.....'
Somen listened to him in horror, he started breathing heavily..,
'Blast..but I just...', he murmured under his breath, he stopped as his eyes fell on a newspaper lying on Sagar's desk.
The front page of the newspaper had the list of the people who had died in the blast. He could feel his head spinning ...with blurred vision he read Om ji's name among several others.
'I'm going for his last rites, you can join me as well', he heard Sagar saying.
'Yes..' Somen blurted. Together they proceeded for Om ji's last rites.
Somen was too stunned to react.....