Monday, December 19, 2005

Journey - Part 2

Sorry for the long delay, folks.

(Part 1)

Ravi was soon fast asleep, his last thought was about the rain drumming on top.

Ravi found himself jerked awake, the pain in his neck sharp. He opened his eyes to find himself almost upside down in an awkward position, wrapped around the chain holding his berth. There was barely any light. He heard lots of screams. He tried to straighten up, holding on to his neck. Something was on his foot. Someone's lighter flickered. As he slowly got accustomed to the semi-darkness, he could see a shape crumpled at his foot. He tried to free himself, but that person didn't budge. He felt something sticky running from his head. His mind slowly opened up to the shouts and screams around him. He sat there unable to do anything for some time. He could hear people moving about. After what seemed like hours, light seeped in slowly. He found out why he couldn't move. A couple of suitcases had fallen on top of the person who was lying on his foot. He slowly moved them out of the way and tried to move the other person. It was the young man who had sat across from them. He seemed to be in a bad shape. Ravi shook him gently after checking if he was breathing. The guy stirred slowly and immediately screamed in pain. He was clutching his leg, which was in an unnatural position. Ravi turned around to see if he could do something. The young girl was sitting up beside him with a stunned look. The young couple huddled together on the other side of the young man. The guy was bleeding in quite a few places, his short dirty and torn. The girl had an ugly gash on her forehead and another on her forearm. They were trying to clean up each other. Mr. Rangabhashyam seemed a little dazed as he helped the bawling Komalavalli madam. Ravi touched the girl on her shoulder.

"Are you okay?"

She nodded mutely, with a faraway look. She seemed to be in shock.

The crowd was fighting to get to the door. Ravi decided to wait rather than fight the crowd. Someone said a bomb had exploded, someone else said the tracks had been missing. No one knew for sure. The crowd thinned out slowly. He helped Mr. Rangabhashyam who was trying to give a hand to Mrs. Komalavalli. He turned towards the girl and tried to get her to move. She did so in a trance. The young couple helped each other and they started moving out. He tried to help the young man stand up on his good leg. It was hard.

"Can someone help here? This young man seems to have broken a leg."

Some kept moving, a few stopped to look, some gave a look of pity, but no one stopped. Finally, another young man came to help him. Between them, they managed to pull him to the door. Someone had dropped a sari from the door above and a few good souls were helping people get out. The train was cleared in another hour. Groups of people huddled near their respective compartments. Some were badly hurt, some had a few nicks and cuts and some were amazingly unscathed. Some men decided to pull all the luggage out of the compartments. Soon the able ones gathered together and unloaded the bags.

Ravi walked around, trying to find out what had happened. There seemed to have been some problem with the tracks, causing the train to run off them. All the compartments were damaged. The news had been conveyed to Vijayawada, a rescue team would reach them soon. They seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Water stagnated here and there from the rains, a few trees gave some shade from the morning sun.

He sat on top of his bag, waiting it out. He looked around, Mr. Rangabhashyam sat under a tree, leaning against the trunk, dazed and lost in thought. Mrs. Komalavalli seemed to have calmed down a bit, but every now and then, she let out a few wails, wiping her nose on the edge of her sari. The young couple sat hugging each other under another tree. The young man, who seemed to have a broken leg, was being looked after by an elderly woman. She had tied a cloth around his leg and cleaned up his scratches. The young girl sat alone, an island among the numerous groups of people. Ravi went to her and tried to make sure she was okay. He kneeled before her and shook her shoulder slightly. She jerked as if she had been dozing and looked at him.

"Are you all right, Miss?"

"I think so".

"You need to clean up your wounds. Your forehead is bleeding again".

She touched her kerchief to her forehead. Ravi saw that it was already blood-stained and dirty.

"Here, use this". He pulled out a hand towel from his bad and helped her.

"Thanks, Mr..."

"Ravi. And you are?"

"Archana".

"I am going to check on the others. May be you should move to the shade".

Archana got up and moved her bags next to the young couple. Ravi went to Mr. Rangabhashyam and sat down next to him.

"Sir, are you okay?"

Mr. Rangabhashyam turned to him slowly. "Yes. I am okay. A few scratches. Do you have a cell phone?"

"Yes. But the battery is dead."

"I left my family".

"I am sure we can let them know as soon as the rescue team gets here."

"No. I left them for good yesterday. My wife and two kids. I was a coward. I am a coward. I lost my job sometime back and couldn't find another. My wife nagged me constantly. My kids were going hungry. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't take it anymore. So I ran away. I didn't tell them. They don't know."

Ravi listened silently, not knowing what to say. Mr. Rangabhashyam closed his very wet eyes and leaned back against the tree.

Archana looked at the young couple. They seemed to be in a bad shape.

"Are you two okay?"

"Uh, yes, yes." The young man replied. The girl just looked, she seemed to be on the verge of tears.

"I heard the rescue team should be here soon. You can get back home soon."

That seemed to agitate them even further.

"When will they get here?"

"Soon. May be in an hour or so."

Archana looked around. There was confusion everywhere. As far as she could see, there was nothing else except the train wreck with the passengers milling around like ants. Her stomach rumbled a little. She was hungry. She hadn't eaten since the previous day's lunch. All she had was a half-eaten bar of chocolate. That would have to do for now. The girl next to her was sobbing. She could hear the young man trying to console her. Jenny, her name was. He kept repeating her name.

"What are we going to do, Rajesh?"

"Don't worry Jenny, we will figure out something."

"What if they find out?"

"They don't know where we are. They are probably thinking that we are still in Chennai."

Rajesh and Jenny, Archana thought. Wonder if they eloped. It certainly looked that way. She sympathized with them. They were in the same boat, well not exactly. Her thoughts flew back to the previous day, to her mother.

"Archana, do you really have to go away from us?" Her mom had cried pitifully.

"Mom, if I stay here any longer, all of you will drown my ambitions. You don't understand what I want in life. I don't want to marry Kumar and settle down. I won't get this opportunity again. Please try to understand, amma. And Delhi is not so far. You can visit me anytime you feel like."

Her dad had not talked to her and she hadn't bothered to reason with him. Their feud had started when she had graduated and had escalated to a point where talking was useless. She had left home a heavy heart, knowing that she could possibly not come back to the only home she had ever known.

The loud shouts brought her back to the present.

(to be continued)

7 comments:

thennavan said...

Interesting turn of events. Mele enna varudunnu paarppom :-)

Me too said...

"thodarum" pottu kolreengale!!!

Balaji said...

hmmm very unexpected Chapter 2 :) hope #3 doesn't have this big a delay...

Harish said...

waitin for more! :) this is good!

visithra said...

Have a wonderful and safe new year ;)

Ghost Particle said...

Happy New Year. May god bless you and your family. May all your wishes come true this new year.

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