Divya was waiting at the Central station for boarding her train to Coimbatore. She had come an hour earlier. She found seated by her side a young man in his late twenties reading an English magazine. He looked handsome with dark curly hair parted at the centre. The thin rimless specs that rested on his aquiline nose added to his charm. She glanced towards him now and then but he never seemed to take note of her. She glanced at her watch and found it had stopped.
“Mister, can you please tell me the time?” she asked him shaking her watch vigorously.
“20.10.Has your watch stopped or what?” he asked.
She giggled and said “Thanks. Why would I ask if it were running?”
“I am Madhavan bound for Coimbatore. Who knows you might have asked me just to pick up a conversation” he said with a mischievous grin.
“Chee, chee.Why should I pick up conversation with a stranger? I am Divya waiting for my train to the same place” she replied.
When he exploded into laughter she too joined him. After a few pleasantries he asked her “Would you mind having tea and some snacks at the restaurant? I am famished and we have an hour more”
She readily agreed. He ordered samosa, sandwiches and tea. As they were waiting, she excused herself leaving her small suit case with him . When she came back, he found him waiting with the snacks and tea. They ate together. She learnt he was an Income Tax officer working at Coimbatore and in turn had informed him that she was an officer in a national bank.
As they were eating she felt suddenly groggy with a tugging pain in her head and blacked out.
It was early morning. She heard noises of people around. She found that she was in a berth in AC two tier compartment. The train had reached Coimbatore. She quickly looked for her hand bag. It was lying under her pillow. Except for the missing cash of a few thousands all were intact. She looked for her suitcase. It was missing.
She realized she was conned. She didn’t know what to do as most of the passengers were getting down. She came to the gate to get down. There she found Madhavan waiting for her with her suitcase in his hand.
“Good morning, Divya. Could you sleep well? What happened? You passed out suddenly yesterday. I gtot worried.. I saw from your hand bag your ticket with coach and seat number. I did not want to leave you in that state in the station. I had no time to go to the police. I was also not comfortable leaving a young lady in their custody in the night. So I decided to put you in the train .Luckily I was in the next cabin. I took the precaution to remove the money from your bag and keep your suitcase with me. Here they are. Please have them checked” he said with a smile.
She thanked him profusely and said “I did not know what happened after I ate the stuff along with you. I do not remember a single bit. But for your presence of mind and help I would have been in serious trouble. I have no words to express my gratitude. Thanks a bunch for safeguarding my money and the suitcase.”
“Never mind. All is well that ends well. My car would be waiting. I can drop you at your place on my way” he said
“Thanks. I would rather take a three wheeler. I do not know how to thank you for being such a good Samaritan” she said as she gave her card.
“I can understand your apprehension in travelling with unknown stranger in a car. But I have no intention to leave you here without ensuring you reach safely to your home. I will accompany you in your three-wheeler with my car behind. Here is my card” he said.
It was a big bungalow where the three wheeler stopped. She invited him for a coffee to which he readily agreed. As she related the incident, her parents were very pleased with him and enquired about his parents, where he stayed, matrimonial status and such like as old people are wont to. To make things short suffice it to say they were happily married in six months time.
One Sunday morning when she was sitting in the balcony of their house sipping tea with Madhavan, she remembered the question that had always foxed her without an answer. She looked at the innocent face of her husband reading a news paper. The thought crossed to her mind that he had also taken the same refreshments that day in the station with no ill effect and how she alone conked out. Could it be someone at the restaurant, she wondered? No, it cannot be she concluded.
Divya asked him the question the umpteenth time.
“Whoever did it I thank him from the bottom of my heart for fetching me such a beautiful wife. Do you suspect me?” was his smiling answer as always. She dared not accuse him for he was such a beloved husband.