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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

B: Blink


The platform was crowded as usual. The usual hustle bustle of the daily commuters, the loud whistle of the train's engine, street vendors on the platforms and passengers waiting at the platform for the last local train, seemed to be a very regular. The lazy dogs slept in one corner near a group of elderly men playing cards. As the last local arrived at 7:40 pm , students rushed towards the train. All seem to be familiar faces, except him. He caught my attention and my eyes stayed glued to him. The white platform light fell on his face. Almost 6 feet, the slim guy had long brown hair. He blinked his eyes fast. . Dressed in blue denims, white tee and a bag pack, he came across as a student to me. I stood towards the end of the platform staring at him.

From the past four years, I traveled daily from Mandi House Railway station to Ghaziabad  in the last local train. I had seen students and working professionals like me, daily at the same time. Many a times I befriended students in the train guiding them the routes or discussing about the latest course books. My friendly attitude was perhaps why many students treated me like friends instead of a teacher. After college time, I used to coach students from financially weak families. Among them, was a very bright student Raghu. His financial conditions did not allow him to study full time. He worked part time as an accountant during the day and studied in my evening classes. Tall and slim, Raghu also blinked his eyes very fast. He was my favorite student. Last year he died in a road accident, leaving his family alone. My eyes welled up as I saw the tall guy at the platform; Raghu's look alike.

He glanced at me as I managed to keep my tears from rolling. He walked towards me, blinking his eyes very quick. I pretended to look away. “Excuse me sir. Is this the last train?” he asked me in his husky voice.
I nodded my head unable to speak at that time. “Where are you headed?” I asked him swallowing the lump in my throat.

“Sahibabad” he replied.
We hopped onto the train together making our way through the crowd on the platform. We stood near the entrance door, holding on to the support handle.

“Sir, do you travel daily?” he started a conversation, with his eyes blinking fast.
“Yes. What about you young man?”

“I am new here. I started commuting today.” His eyes blinked swiftly.
The train sped through the Yamuna Bridge and screeched to a halt suddenly at a small junction. Somebody might have pulled the emergency chain. The lights inside the train went off.  The tall guy lost his balance and I felt him lean over me. Few more passengers lost their balance to tip over each other, hurling abuses at the train. The confusion, clutter and noise prevailed for about few minutes. The train moved, lights were on, people were back to their places. But the tall guy was gone. He might have got down at the platform, I thought. “But he fell over me. Why would he leave suddenly?” I thought as I rubbed my back which had hit the seat-rest. My hand moved to my back pocket. My wallet was missing. I checked in my other pockets and looked around. As the train left the platform, I saw the tall guy disappear on the platform within the blink of my eye.

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