A woman sits on a bench on the solitary platform of Girinagar Railway Station.
She looks at her watch.
Then she looks towards the Railway Track.
She has a worried expression on her face.
The Station Master comes out of his office holding two flags, one green and one red.
He sees the woman and smiles at her.
The woman gets up from the bench and asks the station master, “Is the shuttle late?”
“Yes, the shuttle has been delayed. The express train is being stopped here. The shuttle has been detained at the outer signal and will arrive here after the express train goes away.”
“Oh, My God…!!!”
“What happened?” asks the station master.
“I don’t want to be late for the Republic Day function in our school.”
“What time is the function?”
“7:30. The normal school time.”
“I hope I will reach in time,” the woman says anxiously.
“I don’t think so. Normally the shuttle leaves here at 6:25 and reaches the Junction at 7. It’s 35 minutes running time. Today the express is expected to arrive at 6:45 and will be detained here for at least 5 minutes. By the time the shuttle arrives and leaves it will easily be past 7. Even if it makes up time and reaches the junction by 7:30 you still have a 10 minute walk to school. I don’t think you’ll be able to make it on time.”
“Oh, My God. I will be in trouble if I am late for the Republic Day function. It will be so humiliating,” the woman says in an anxious voice with nervousness written all over her face.
“You’ve got a first class pass, haven’t you?” the station master asks.
“Yes,” the woman says.
“Then don’t worry. You can travel by the express in the air-conditioned coach. I will tell the TTE to permit you. The express will take less than 15 minutes to reach the junction and you will be there latest by 7:10 and you can easily reach your school well before 7:30.”
“Thank you so much.”
“What ‘Thank You’? You are like my daughter. This is the least I can do for you.”
“Why is the express stopping here?” the woman asks.
“The express train is being stopped here for Colonel Ashok,” the station master says.
Suddenly the telephone rings and the station master rushes inside his office.
“The express train is being stopped here for Colonel Ashok” – those words slice through the woman’s heart like a knife slices through butter.
“So Ashok is a Colonel now. A big shot. Big enough to get the express stopped for him at Girinagar where even the fast passenger does not halt,” the woman says to herself.
Then the woman is filled with hate and regret and she says to herself bitterly: “Had it not been for the scheming bitch Menaka who mesmerized Ashok with her enticing charms and stole him away from me, today I would been Mrs. Ashok – a Colonel’s Wife, a Memsahib.”
Suddenly, the shrill whistle of the diesel engine of the express train disturbs her train of thoughts and the express train arrives on the platform.
The air-conditioned coach stops right in front of her. In the door stands Menaka, Ashok’s wife.
Menaka sees the woman and smiles at her but the woman does not return the smile.
The woman turns her face away but looks at the door of the air-conditioned coach with the corner of her eyes trying to catch a glimpse of Ashok.
The big show-off that he is, she is sure Ashok will be in his resplendent uniform strutting like a peacock.
But there is no sign of Colonel Ashok.
Instead she sees a young officer in uniform getting down from the train with Menaka and the both of them start walking towards the end of the train.
“Come on, get in fast,” the station master motions her towards the door of the air-conditioned coach. He says something to the TTE and the TTE tells her to go inside and sit on Seat No. 30.
She sits on Seat No. 30.
A family – a man, a woman and a small boy sit on the seats around her.
There is a jerk, the tug of the engine, and the train starts moving and picks up speed.
The woman looks at her watch.
She heaves a sigh of relief.
She will be well on time for the Republic Day function.
The TTE arrives to check her pass.
Curious, the woman asks the TTE: “Why did the train stop here?”
“To detach the refrigerated van at the end of the train,” the TTE says, “the van was carrying the body of an army officer who died in action and sacrificed his life for the nation. His widowed wife was sitting right here on Seat No. 30 – the same seat where you are now sitting.”
“His name was Colonel Ashok,” the man sitting in front says, “despite losing her husband the courageous lady was so poised and calm. It is because of the sacrifice of such brave people that we can celebrate Republic Day … ”
If you prefer reading ebooks on Kindle or your ebook reader, please order Cocktail E-book by clicking the links below: AMAZON http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005MGERZ6 SMASHWORDS http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87925Foodie Book: Appetite for a Stroll If your are a Foodie you will like my book of Food Adventures APPETITE FOR A STROLL. Do order a copy from FLIPKART: http://www.flipkart.com/appetite-stroll-vikram-karve/8190690094-gw23f9mr2oAbout Vikram KarveA creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve Vikram Karve Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/vikramkarve Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm Email: firstname.lastname@example.org