Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Woman On Platform Number 10





This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 38; the thirty-eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "The Woman on Platform Number 10"






The Woman on Platform Number 10…

The train was slowing down. Dusk was about to fall, streaks of golden hues of the setting sun were still clinging onto the platform's edge. It was a junction station, now almost deserted, preternaturally still in the yellowing light.

Slowly, the train came to a halt. I craned my neck, tried to read the station’s name but the letters were barely visible. A young lady was standing on the platform hugging a rucksack--a strangely self-possessed figure with close-cropped hair in  a fever of impatience.But,  she had a strange feminine quality of innocence in her, a likable naiveté, so to say. It was clear that she was making preparations to board the train.

A few minutes before the train started, two noisy  men entered the compartment in  kurta-pajama and leather chappals. One of them looked like a politician,had an elephantine gait, and a general air of having to worry about nothing...kind of attitude.   An overnight journey in such a company wasn’t agreeable to me, but I had no choice. Quietly, I took out my Perry Mason, switched on the reading light, shut myself from them.

My peace was soon disrupted by the young woman who was standing on the platform. It was, as if, to rescue me from awkwardness, God had sent her to me. I was pleased. She entered, rapidly shoved her bag under the seat, and claimed her seat next to me. I was relieved. I kept waiting for her to take out an i-pod/ i-pad/ kindle…but, she kept staring at the compartment for some time, then bunched up her sari and pulled her legs up on the bench.

 The whistle sounded, and the train started.

I smiled; she gave me a quick friendly glance. I noticed, her eyes had unnatural, abnormal restlessness...she was rocking back and forth against the wall, but was trying hard to calm herself, taking one breath after another; her hands were trembling .... She looked at me worriedly, tried to force a smile--but, her anxiety only deepened.

‘Are you alright?’, I asked softly.

She gazed at me , and in childish exuberance  asserted, ‘I’m fine, thank you for asking…', and  gulped  water from her water bottle. I thought the stuffy compartment was getting on her.., but, strange symptoms persisted, and all of a sudden those shivers theatrically changed into suppressed sobs...I didn't know what to say. Those men were now ogling at her. Everything looked so oppressive, so queer...--oh, it was bad, bad!

I  sensed something was wrong. I seldom made small talks with strangers, but, this time, I was all set to probe into her life…so, willingly began a conversation..!

‘Are you travelling alone?’ I asked.

Her red eyes flickered once and she said,’ Yes,…I am traveling alone, going to see my mother, who lives with my parental grandmother, she’s like a daughter to them… she’s fighting cancer…my father left us for another woman. That tall monster is a qualified doctor, who could have treated his wife- but the man is so tinged with treachery, and my mother is a silly woman!’ She said everything, her voice high, determined, But, soon she laid her head on my lap very quiely , and I closed down my book, and started stroking her bony head....

Her sobing stopped; she sat up jerkily, may be, in embarassment --I wanted to tell her--nothing had been misunderstood, no wrong had been done. But,  she started blabbering again.This time she looked rebellious rather than nervous.

Relenting, she whispered, ‘The cancer’s inoperable…the family GP said, it is stress taking its toll. It is depression … I wish I could continue with my daughterhood...Why certain people go against the natural order of things…I want to kill that man, I mean, my father and a few more…I’m the kind of person who sticks to her decisions…’

I coughed to prevent her from talking any further. Her constant chatter had now totally modilfied her appearance. I was amazed at the pallor and anxiety I was seeing in that face. Suddenly, looking at the neighbors-- with an expression of intense alarm, one of her hands gently glided into her little traveling bag that was lying beside her. She took out a pen-knife…I cringed.

But, again her small action indicated that she was fearful and nervous. I touched her assuringly, but she shrugged my hands off  and explained to me, in pantomime, that I had nothing to fear, since she was there. Her behavior was strange. I hesitated for a moment. Wondered, if I could trust this woman?

Those men were observing both of us. This was only expected, for she had been making ridiculous signs and gestures..

After a short silence, she came close to me and uttered, in an almost inaudible voice: “Do you know one of those monsters is my father..?”  Now, she was getting hysterical and  inappropriate.

She continued...

‘But tell me how can I hate my father who gave me so much love…; he took me to bars and to the theaters, we had fun together. I loved him secretly, not the way one loves her father, but as  man. But, I hate him now because he’s been open with everyone around him, except for my mother—the only person who really deserved his attention. How could he be so heartless??’

A cacophonous confusion echoed around the coupe…and I saw a stark, but pathetic portrait of her schizophrenic mind.She kept muttering for sometime..

A Doctor was summoned by the Railway Authorities as she was getting more and more hysterical.  A sedative was pushed into her veins, to get the situation under control.

 A deep peace flooded through her face. I kept watching her, unabashed, till she dozed off..I struggled to keep awake. I looked through the window at the landscape and the fleeting stars, but in a short time all that became indistinct; and the image of the nervous lady probably effaced from my memory... and I was buried in the soothing depths of sleep.





The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Introduced By: BLOGGER NAME, Participation Count: 10!!  Yippee!  I am a VETERAN  at last!:)



63 comments:

  1. you never fail to turn me speehless :D

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    1. Thanks a lot, the factfiction...:))

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  2. This is an amazing story, Panchali. You are truly a gifted writer.

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    1. Lisa, Thanks for the feeling of satisfaction you give me with your comment.. And this was posted unedited. I edited it just now. :))

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  3. Panchali, this story kept me on the edge of my seat. I really got into it and was breathless by the end.

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    1. Mary, This is why I wait for your comment avidly. 'Cause you easily understand what I try to say...
      I was out during the weekend, and wrote this quickly after coming back last evening, had to post it unedited to meet the deadline :))))
      I have edited it now..:) Thanks very much for liking the story:)

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  4. hmmm...I was like, what next ? what next till the last line...:)

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    1. This was posted unedited, FIF...I'm glad, my readers could connect!:) Thanks re...

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  5. Hai Panchali, Your story is superb. Each and every word is soaked in depth and emotion. You always come out with elan and panache. Wonderful!!!

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    1. Usha, Thanks for the visit... and the feeling of satisfaction you give me with your comment.. :))
      This was posted unedited to meet the deadline. I was sleepy and tired, so couldn't edit it last night. I am glad this kept your interest alive. You are such a ego-booster for me, Usha. God bless:)) I would love to meet you when I go to Delhi this time :)

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  6. loved reading this one! ATB for BAT

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    1. Wish, you had read the edited version, li'l princess. I was out during the weekend, came back home last night and scribbled this hurriedly. Posted the story just to meet the deadline...But, am glad you enjoyed reading!Thanks re...

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  7. wonderful plot so well woven with words that you are so adept with..Di!! could feel the tempo of the train with the words as they slowly built to fall in place, finally! :)

    eyeing another trophy!?! :)

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    1. Akila, Wish, you had read the edited version. I was out during the weekend, came back home last night and scribbled this hurriedly. Posted the story just to meet the deadline..I have edited it now. But, I am glad you enjoyed reading!Thanks re...
      I shall be reading the other entries now.. Trophy..? Why not? I don't get tired of them:P
      Thanks!!

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  8. beautiful!-speechless!

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    1. Thanks dotty!!:)) Probably you also read the unedited post...I am happy you liked this.

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  9. Intriguing-you are definitely a superb storyteller.I wish this could continue.

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    1. Ah Indu, I was actually dying to wrap it up quickly. As I said, this story was written in a hurry and was posted (unedited) last night to meet the deadline. I edited it only around lunch-time.But, am glad you enjoyed reading!Thanks for your kind words.
      Love,

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  10. Lovely writing Panchali... wish it could go on:)

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    1. Rahul, I think I can pat myself on the back if this story managed to captivate you...:)Thanks a ton for your visit and comment!

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  11. Intriguing.. It kept me reading till the last line. Really liked your narration style. :)

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    1. Thank you, Anjali for that sweet comment...you made me happpyyy!!Yippeee!
      Shall check out the other entries soon:)

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  12. Beautiful story with a fine twist. Enjoyed reading.

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    1. Thanks for that nice comment, Eashwar. You made me feel so good. :)))Many thanks!

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  13. I liked the way you write and your language!
    An unusual story and it moved in waves. Loved reading it!

    Rumya - The Woman on Platform No. 10

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    1. Rumya, There cannot be a bigger compliment to a writer... Thank you... you made me feel very good :D
      I'll be in your space soon:)

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  14. Replies
    1. Many thanks, Jahid...Long time!!

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  15. durdaanto !! u made me visualize ur story Panchali!!

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    1. mysay.in...bangla..??? naam ta chaiii...chaiiii! Shiggiri...!!Do let me know... it'll help a great deal... :)
      Pleasure to see you here.... :)))
      Thanks a bunch!

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  16. It was like watching a short film & waited for the climax & i felt it was worth watching I mean reading ur style of narration pulling ur readers like a magnet & tempting us to come back to u..speechless,breath taking & an awesome surprising end.Actually did u meet that lady on ur trip?? really fact+fiction Panchalibolchi well done.SMILES:) GOD<3U

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    1. Thanks so much, Adhi. Always a pleasure to see you here and with such pleasant words--- its like sunshine:))) Smiles!!

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  17. Was checking out the other entries when I came across yours. This is really captivating and thoroughly put together. Enjoyed every bit of it:)

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    1. Shweta...Thanks so much for the lovely comments.... You are kind:))) Will treasure these lovely words...
      I shall be in your space soon..:))

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  18. Amazing story. Not much to say. Speechless.

    Travel India

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    1. Vishal...Glad you made it here.. your comments do mean a lot to me:))

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  19. Wow, what a story. Your narrator took us through twists and turns that were most definitely unexpected! Captivating!

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    1. Thanks Other Mary for such a delightful comment.. good to see you here:)))
      Check this blog for my haiku, other Mary.
      http://panchali2.wordpress.com/

      Thanks!!

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  20. I got goosebumps reading this one, Panchali di.
    (Btw, your warmth shows through :))

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    1. Divya..Thanks so much for being here:))No wonder... your comments are always eagerly awaited.. Thanks for your sweet words!:)

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  21. Wonderful story. The suspense and character developed nicely.

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    1. Oh, I am so glad you enjoyed, Rajesh. I was away, so must have missed reading your blogs. Shall be there soon.. Thanks so much for your kind words...Many thanks:))

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  22. Beautiful language, lucid storytelling and wonderful narrative....this a really nice piece!

    First time blogatoner.....Shreyasi

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    1. Welcome to Blogaton, Shreya!! And thanks a ton for your compliments.... You made my day!! :D
      I'll be in your space soon..:)

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  23. An interesting piece that keeps the reader anxious till the end.

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    1. Thanks Sarala, for your appreciative comment. :))

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  24. I read all the story without breathing...what a gripping description ..!!!

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    1. Thank you so much, KVVS Murthy for that lovely comment :) Please do visit again!

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  25. Hello Panchali Mam. So good to come here. I was busy with something so wasn't really blogging. But whoa. you caught me on my feet. This was a bazooka, hit me like a cannonball. Really loved it, everything about it, the plot, the narration, the characterization, the shock element, everything.

    ABSOLUTELY SUPERB.. Of course you are no alien to such remarks. But my vocab is too small to cater to your artistry with words.

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    1. Deepak...I feel as if I've been visited by Santa Claus...happy as a kid :))))))Thanks so much for the compliments!

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  26. Beautiful narration. The story was gripping and had me hooked till the end.

    The woman on platform number 10

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  27. I had loved the topic and was looking forward to your story. You did not disappoint at all.

    The narration is top notch, left me wanting to read more :D

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  28. Panchali, this is my first visit to your blog and this is the first post that I'm reading and I must say, I'm impressed! Kepp up the good work!

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  29. A beautiful & unique story...loved it :)ATB for BAT

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  30. Gripping narration, I thought she will stab on of the men in the compartment. Schizophrenia is such a terrible disease.

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  31. Tale telling perfectioned.. Must say.

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  32. I've been laid up in bed for a couple of weeks now. Reading this was like a soothing balm to my general sickliness :D Loved it!

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  33. Wow! A thrilling tale beautifully narrated!

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  34. Nice story and an excellant narration!! Loved it. :)
    ATB for BAT!

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  35. What a story! It hasn't ended yet for me.

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  36. Lovely writing Panchali di.

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  37. wah...what a sensitive portrayal and the finishing flair...hugs my dear girl...u r superb....

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