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Vivek Bhat

The train, whistling, was about to leave the station while a boy running with his satchel sliding from his shoulders caught it narrowly and shared the seat with a couple. The train had very low occupancy because it was an afternoon of scorching summer day. After a pause of half an hour the boy tried to broke the conversation with the man.

“Husband-Wife?” he asked.

“No”, the man answered.

“Then who?” he added.

“She is the story and I am the character both inseparable, both incomplete without each other. Do you want to listen us?”, asked the man.

“I would love to”, boy said.

“You are carrier of, potion to my heart, a beautiful smile”, I told her. “I know not the meaning of purity of heart and sanity and wilderness together until I had met you”, she responded. “We are together forever”, with this resolve the flight of our clandestine love took off.

We were cruising high above the clouds, untouched by the chaos mundane  all set on journey of togetherness till a clog of parameters set by society for judging a human on the basis of material gains overlooking strength of character, made our flight to nosedive. Our story has stumbled.

“Stumbled?” the boy interrupted “Would you please narrate whole story to me and who is the lady you are traveling with?”

“Young man we live in the world where one is treated according to one’s material gains, where corrupt-well off is respected and hardworking-humble is reprimanded. People force you to overachieve beyond your capability and when you fail in that quest they leave you with a tag of loser,” the man replied.

“Oh, but success too need lots of hard work and don’t you think successful deserve better?” asked the boy.

“Indeed, hardwork never goes unrewarded but I have vocal abhorrence against pushing someone beyond his capacity. Employing a dog to push the cart can be called stupidity in common parlance. Also there is need to redefine parameters of success.

“Where do you want to take me? Please come directly to the story”, the boy said.

“Clandestine love, I told you earlier of, was exposed and I was asked to meet her family and during the course of conversation the head of her family to whom I put forth the claims of my relationship had introduced me to a suitor he had chosen for her. A family bigger than mine and a man way well off than I. According to him the happiness she could get there was above my reach in dreams or reality”.

“To love is to sacrifice”, said the head of her family. Make a sacrifice for her happiness, he added to the conversation. Not able to persuade him, we parted ways breaking all ties. She got married. Happy according to my knowledge till the day I got a message  from her that she was suffering from permanent endometriosis and couldn’t bore a child and everyone in the family had turned against her. To my surprise on one fateful day they were planning her murder. The very text made me jump off the bed and run towards their home and broke into their house forcefully.  Her husband there was scribing a note to articulate it as suicide. Meanwhile, I had seen the blazes coming from a room. I broke into the latched door and found that she was ablaze. I started to dose off the flames. She lost her eyesight and sense of hearing but her life was saved.

“Oh, very sad, that’s the reason she is not responding to our conversation and constantly turns her face towards the cool breeze coming from the window, isn’t that? And tell me what happened to her cruel family members?”

“The chaos made by me had alerted the neighbors. Her family members had tried to flee from the spot anticipating danger of exposure but were caught and booked under the law”, the man answered.

“Finally you both are together, it has given me an immense happiness. All is well that ends well. Also you were right to say that everyone, irrespective of his nature of work, deserves respect. Everyone should be treated with dignity and greed is always disastrous”, the boy affirmed.

The fellow man grinned and added, “Yes! The parameter of success is peace of mind with the capacity to make one’s ends meet, material gains come secondary”.

The man departed from his seat as the train stopped at the station. New passengers boarded and some of them de-boarded. A girl came straight to the lady at window turned her and started to feed her by occupying the seat of the man. The train had started again to race on rails. The boy couldn’t resist to ask about the fellow man because he, was not in the seat, had disappeared abruptly.

“Sorry to disturb you madam, where is the man this unfortunate lady was traveling with from the last three stations? I guess he had lost the train”, he asked anxiously.

“Who?” She is my sister and was traveling alone, who is the man you are asking for.” The girl asked furiously.

That has put the boy in quandary but he had reached his destination therefore de-boarded. At the doors of station he had seen that man again. He chased him till he had caught him.

“Where were you? And the new lady? What is your relationship with the lady you were sitting with?  Why you grin always when I ask you about her?”

“Young man I am the person who longed to live for her but I had got the privilege to die for her. I had lost my life that day while saving her because I had succumbed to serious burn injuries. And now I often travel along with her to behold her beautiful  eyes, to live in her tears, to laugh in her joys. Keeping my promise of togetherness forever. Now I am as immortal as my love”, he ended.

Scared by his words, the boy asked, “Are you a spirit?” Meanwhile another train halted at the station. The batch of passengers leaving the station pushed them both at the doors and the man disappeared in the rush.

The boy couldn’t believe his senses and felt like he had been dreaming.

He left the station thinking, “To love is to sacrifice”.

– The writer works in Department of Posts and can be reached at [email protected]

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