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Train Number 12693 Pearl City Express - Short Story

Discussion in 'Stories (Fiction)' started by Rrg, Oct 29, 2018.

  1. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Train number 12693 Pearl City Express

    “Train number 12693 Pearl City Express, from Chennai to Tutucorin, will leave from platform no: 1 at 19.30 hrs.” I was standing near one of the entrances to Egmore station, taking much care to hide myself from the people moving around.
    My friend called me up that afternoon and asked me to rush to Tutucorin, my native place, without delay. My wife was in advanced state of pregnancy and wanted me to be by her side when she delivered our first child. I also would have loved to. But, it would be child’s guess for anyone that I would be visiting my wife around this time. I know my wife’s mobile could be monitored and had given her strict instructions not to try my number at any cost. She was only to send someone to call my friend living nearby and communicate with me through him. Due to my friend’s insistence, I finally decided to take a chance. Here I am, with a false beard & moustache and a long towel as a mundasu (turban) waiting to board this train at the last minute.
    When I noticed the guard’s signal for departure, I rushed and boarded the first class compartment. Only few trains were still continuing with one or two old first class coaches. Not many people preferred to travel by first class as the 2tier AC class costed about the same. People preferred AC comfort than the non-AC first class. When I was about to settle down in my upper berth, I noticed a senior police officer entering the same cabin and occupying the lower berth, opposite to me. We looked at each other and smiled. I then ignored his presence and turned away from him and closed my eyes.
    His face was vaguely familiar. But where have I seen him? I couldn’t see any look of recognition in his eyes. You can never say anything about these guys. The train had just moved out of the platform. I strained my level best to place him. Finally, I remembered that I had seen him in Vellore jail as a Superintendent of Police. Has he recognised me? I was not sure.
    I could see that two policemen were travelling with him. The moment the train started moving they came inside and saluted him. Normally, I thought, that any escorting policemen would travel by lower classes. He instructed them to stand on both sides of our cabin outside and await his instructions. This made me think. Perhaps he had placed me. Perhaps my friend’s phone was also being monitored. I was not sure.
    Something warned me inside that my life was in danger, unless I do something quickly. What can I do? I wouldn’t be allowed to go to the toilets even, with the two burly guards in the passage. I could surrender very well. But what is the guarantee for my life? He could pull the chain, ask me to get down and run, shoot me at leisure and call it an encounter killing. But for what reason? Only he will know.
    I prayed to all the Gods that I could think of, irrespective of the religion. At least one of them could take pity on me and help out. I apologised to each and every one of them - for all my sins, real or imaginary, committed or yet to be committed.
    Suddenly I thought of my mom. She used to tell me that if ever I feel scared for anything in life, shout “Jai Narasimha” and jump. I thought no harm trying now. I shouted “Jai Narasimha” and jumped. Landed straight on the police officer sleeping on the lower berth.
    “Who? What??Why???” he shouted incoherently. “708, 982 where are you?”

    The two policemen rushed inside and switched on the light. I tried getting up but was too entangled with him. Both rolled on to the floor. He got up first and looked at me with a shock as if I was an unadulterated lunatic, landed straight from the moon. In the jump & fall my beard, moustache and turban, had all fallen off.

    Now he could see me clearly. He caught my arms and started uttering “ You.. you.... you...“.
    I said “Yes, you are right. Remember, we met at Vellore Sometime back. You were the Superintendent of Prisons there. I could place you by your atypical smile and the shape of your ears”.
    “But why all this make-up like false beard etc?”
    “I didn’t want to be recognised by people you see”
    “And may I know what was that big shout you uttered with which you managed to land on me?”
    “Oh that? I was visualising a fight scene that I was to perform for an upcoming film. Got too carried away. Sorry that I landed on you” said I.
    “No, no. I am pleased you did it. Not for nothing they call you Solo Star of Kollywood. I am delighted to know that you are one of those who live their roles day and night, any where and every where. Long live Solo Star” he said loudly. The two policemen also joined the chorus, “Long Live Solo Star”.
    All is well that ends well.

    ps : How do I tell him that I dreamt that he had come to “encounter kill” me for reasons known only to himself, which triggered my jump?
    My mother was right after all. My shouting “Jai Narasimha” and jumping had driven away my scary dreams no doubt. I stayed wide awake till I reached Tuticorin.


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