Crime Fantasy Thriller
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Joda, Odisha, India
Joda’s railway station is humming with sounds of belching smoke and whistles. An industrial area like Joda turns into an impatient bull, sharp at eight in the morning when all the sirens from the factories echo. Tea hawkers keep peddling a variety of tea concoctions. Today, they are happy that the Jan Shatabdi Express is delayed and they didn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to sell cutting chai. The winters have not left Joda even in the month of March. Sweepers in dirty sweaters and torn mufflers are busy cleaning the platform. The foggy weather has made their work even more difficult.
‘Your attention, please. The Jan Shatabdi Express from Howrah to Barbil via Tatanagar is arriving at platform number 2’ – There is an announcement.
After a short pause, the same broadcast is repeated in Hindi and Odia.
In a fraction of a minute, the platform turns into a crowded maze.
Everyone is trying to get down as fast as possible, even though Joda is the last stop for the train.
A woman in a black silk sari leaves the general compartment. She seems to be in her sixties and is carrying a small black handbag. Her eyes reveal that she hasn’t slept the entire night. She shows her ticket to the train ticket examiner, picks up a newspaper and rushes towards the exit.
Sidharth is still trying to wake up from the warm embrace of his blanket. Yesterday’s whiskey continues to force him to sleep for some more time. After all, he is not terribly busy, unlike his peers. His single-room thatched house is nothing much to celebrate about just like his loneliness. Loneliness is not the perception of leading an isolated life, but it is the inability to receive even one pair of caring eyes, especially when you want someone to care for you.
Sidharth had lost his mother when he was an infant. His father, a renowned lawyer, had committed suicide when Sidharth was studying for his bachelor’s degree. Shraddha, his elder sister is in a mental asylum after being disowned by her husband, whom she loved too much. He never blamed his brother-in-law for anything that happened to his sister. In fact, no one could bear the psychotic behaviour of his sister, let alone his nice brother-in-law. On one occasion, she had driven a scooter for five hundred miles to meet her fiancée who later became her husband. These crazy activities were pulled into the courtroom when her husband declared her as mentally imbalanced and suffering from an impulsive personality disorder. Her lecturer also confirmed in the courtroom that she was writing a suicide note while taking her exams. Sidharth visits his sister once a week in the mental asylum near Barbil and that was the prime reason for his relocation to Joda from Bhubaneswar. He never carried any animosity against anyone other than God. He believes his creator was partial while distributing the basket of pain.Sidharth is a dropout engineer and a qualified lawyer, but people barely see him in the court. These twists and turns in his life has left him demanding less from life.
Someone knocks at the door.
Sidharth is surprised, as getting a knock at the door so early in the morning is strange. He had neither engaged a milkman nor a newspaper distributor. Even his only friend Kapil here in Joda has gone to his village on a vacation. The condition of the house is so bad that even a thief undergoing internship in the art of stealing would reject peeping into his house for free.
‘Who is it?’ – Sidharth asks. ‘The door is open.’
‘Is it Sidharth Rai’s house?’
‘May I come in?’
Sidharth gets up from his bed, ensuring that his head does not touch the broken roof. Once he had not been careful and knocked the roof with his head, and the entire house had collapsed into a mess of bamboo and wooden sticks, which took him a week to rebuild.
‘Do I know you?’ Sidharth asks the stranger.
‘Your face seems familiar.’
‘Please read this news. My face would look even more familiar,’ the stranger hands over the newspaper.
NRI Investment Banker arrested for Rape and double Murder – Express India