Monday, March 24, 2008

A tryst in Chennai Central

-by KParthasarathi Monday, March 24, 2008
The Tamilnad express was to depart at 10 p.m.It was already 9.15pm and the platform was very crowded with the anxious passengers waiting with laden trolleys and porters with luggage on their heads and arms for the empty rake to be placed on the platform. There was the jostling crowd trying to find out which number coach would halt where. There were the hawkers selling food and drink to those who haven’t finished their dinner. One could see the waitlisted passengers running behind the ticket examiners and pleading with them for berths. The people gathered under the ceiling fans that were few and far between. It was very sultry under the asbestos roof. Minutes were passing with no trace of train and passengers were craning their necks looking for any sign of approaching train. It came at last at 9.35 pm and the whole platform came alive with passengers rushing to the entrances.
There was one young man in well pressed pant and full sleeve white shirt standing opposite the 3 tier sleeper coach. He had an English novel in hand and a mobile in his belt. He appeared calm. Evidently he was not travelling and had come to see off someone who was yet to reach the platform. He went inside the compartment once possibly to see whether his party had come already and came back by the other entrance. He stood watching.
A little away there was a middle aged big built man with forbidding moustache clad in faded jeans and a tight fitting T shirt that revealed his pot belly prominently. He was seen smoking and had roving eyes. He did not make a good impression. It looked he had not come to see off any one but just whiling away his time watching the moving passengers and the melee at the entrances. His intentions were not clear.
The clock showed 9.55p.m.Almost all the passengers had boarded the train by then. A young girl came hurrying pulling a suitcase in one hand and holding a child in the other. When she struggled to move the box inside the coach, the young man rushed to help her board the train. There were a few still standing at the entrances after all the hugs and kisses still waiting to bid farewell to their relatives standing close to the train. The signal turned to green and one heard a distant whistle from the guard. The guard was seen waving the green light. The well dressed young man who was standing outside the coach entered it in a hurry and came out by the other entrance with a small suit case in his hand. He was seen walking briskly towards the other platform.
A strong hand fell on the hurrying young man’s shoulders to make him stop and turn his head. It was the hand of the heavy built man with the moustache. He asked him for his ticket and when the man blinked a sharp slap was given. The man in faded jeans and big moustache asked him whose box it was and even before he answered he pulled him towards the coach. Meanwhile the moving train had halted as someone had pulled the chain The young girl with her baby in arms was seen screaming that her suit case has been stolen. When she saw the young man being dragged towards her she said”That is my suit case. This man who came to help slipped unseen with the box even as I was making the baby lie down on the seat.” One more hard slap from the big man did the trick and the dandy confessed to his crime. The box handed over to the girl, the train moved on. The big man ,a policeman in mufti, dragged the well dressed thief towards the police out post.

1 comment:

  1. your post clearly expresses the message: looks can be deceptive.
    often we come across people who have all the trappings of culture but lack even a basic sense of decency.
    precisely composed.