Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Unending Journey

It was past midnight when the train screeched to a halt at some unknown station. Shruti woke up. Surprisingly the compartment was empty. She blinked to get her vision accustomed to the darkness and peered outside the window. She could not see anything, just lines of dark rail tracks and a small station at the far end, a faint light emitting from some kind of a building. It was eerily dark. Shruti shrugged off the unfamiliar pang of fear, she was not someone who was scared easy.
"I need to stretch my legs a bit", she got up and walked up and down the passage. It was difficult to make out anything in the dark. She vowed to never again avail the Railway Concession given by her college as it stipulated journey only by the Sleeper Class, A/C would have been more comfortable. She came back to her seat. 'God the train is late again', she inwardly cursed the Indian Railways for their errant timings. She tried switching on the lights, 'goddamn railways', she cursed out aloud, 'even the electricity's gone'. She settled herself beneathe the blanket, 'ah, it would probably be a long wait' ; she thought to herself and closed her eyes, willing herself to sleep.

Far end at the station, two men sat talking in the Guard's Office.

"Remember the accident five years ago?" said one.

"How could I forget, I was the goddamn linesman", cursed the other.

"Nobody survived, did they?"

"No, none, I wonder though, why they have left the remaining bogies on the track. If they were removed, the track could be used again couldn't it?"

They looked out and saw the skeleton of a train, badly burnt and dilapidated, standing on the track, motionless, forlorn, haunting...

Inside the train's compartment Shruti blissfully drifted off to sleep.

1 comment:

Sayak said...

I didn't understand the main theme of this story, so I'm afraid you'll have to translate it for me (I know it doesn't sound very intelligent).

Was Shruti dead? And, she didn't even know that? Did she die in that train accident 5 years ago? Is it the same compartment we're talking about?