THE MYSTERY GIRL
(Manohar Naidu, Virginia, USA)
Still there was time to chug out the engine . I was, Sr. Driver with Central Railways. Adjusted and cleaned my pair of glasses, looked out ahead and switched on the engine light to check its serviceability in the pitch of darkness all around. Looked at all instruments and was awaiting time indicator to show 05.00 when I would look for green signal on outer and blow the whistle.
Week more to retire, I was most experienced driver with incident free career though started as Fireman. I was always joyous in my nature and I was liked by one and all. Satisfied with family life, I and my wife Rosie were looking forward post retirement to visit our son in States.
I had been always an alert and conscientious in performance of my duties. I was rather role model amongst my junior colleagues.
Passed the outer signal. I was required to gain speed after crossing the manned railway crossing which was about two kilometers. Just short of half a kilometer of this crossing, I peeped out on track ahead with powerful head -light. I slowed down the engine, switched off the light and again peeped out. I saw some light swinging across the track about 3 ft high. I had already crossed installed green signal, but what is this light swinging across middle of the track? I didn’t want to take any chance.
I further reduced the speed to minimum, slowly applying the brakes. The light was coming closer and closer and suddenly moved towards right out of the track. The train stopped about 50 feet after crossing the flashing light which was dangling and moved out.
I alerted the guard and my assistant, and stood on the steps of engine with amazement. I saw one person running with light coming towards me.
She was young girl in her track suit holding the torch light in her hand. She was almost exhausted and shouted that someone has removed the fish-plates of track ahead. She went on repeating. I got down and decided to inspect the track ahead. Just 200 ft ahead I saw what the girl had said. Shocked. I used my cell phone and informed control room and the guard had also come. The gate man on duty also joined us.
When I came back to engine, I looked for the girl. She was no where to be seen. Query was made with the gate man. He said that one young girl had come and alerted me and he got busy with control room. When she left and where she left he did not know. All the action was taken by me and duty Guard as per the rules and protocol and traffic was resumed after one hour. I thanked the Almighty and also the unknown mystery girl who averted the catastrophe involving so many passengers. This accident would have been a serious blot on my spotless career ending in a weeks time. But who was THE MYSTERY GIRL ?
I retired from service shortly afterwards. Spent couple of months with family moving around in India. Back home I engaged myself in computer classes to keep self busy. Went to States with wife and spent six months joyful good time over there with son and his family. Also became fb addict. Posted many of my life experiences on fb with my expressive natural writing skill which I had been always longing to do. I posted the the last incident of my career also to find out the MYSTERY GIRL.
One fine morning, back home in India, while enjoying the tea with all family members, I saw a smart looking girl about 22 years old in jeans with matching polka dot top at our door. Her face was glowing with fair complexion, sweet smile with dimple on right cheek, curly hair and dreamy eyes. In all she appeared to be well educated , chic and sophisticated.
She said “ Mr. Joe Martin, retired Sr. Loco Driver, Good Morning. A very Happy New Year. May I come in.” I said,” Oh!, Sure, same to you and join us.” She introduced herself as Anamika. She further said “ I read your post on fb and I am that “MYSTERY GIRL” you are looking for. “ I and all family members got flummoxed and it was most astonishing to me. Anamika paused. She was offered tea.
She continued.“I stay in the third floor of the flat which is located very close to railway crossing you mentioned in your life incident on fb. From my bed/study room, the gate and the good stretch of track is visible. Even the slightest sound of crossing vehicle is easily heard. I was doing my post graduation of “Investigative Journalism” and I used to do lot of late reading. I got used to various trains passing on adjoining line. Morning train which leaves the station at 5 o’clock, was my’ waking alarm’ for my jogging routine.
On that particular night, I got up little early due to some sound emitting from track. I saw some people near the track and assumed that some work must be going on. I got ready with jogging suit , shoes and a torch for routine jogging and left the house”.
She paused. Took some sips of tea which had already gone cold. We were numbed with her narration. My eyes were wide open. She continued. “ When I passed through wicket gate meant for pedestrians since main gate was closed, I thought of seeing the track from where the sound was coming. I flashed the torch light .To my horror I saw the fishplates removed and laying out. Immediately, I rushed to gatekeeper and alerted him. Then I proceeded towards the direction of train. I saw my watch, It was past five. I rushed farther away on track and saw the bright light of the train. I started waving and flashing my torch light left and right to alert the driver. Fortunately. the train stopped well ahead after crossing me and I spoke to engine driver about missing fishplates and left the place in the darkness, back to my home.” She paused. Took out the kerchief , puffed her face and shifted her curly hair coming over her eyes.
All family members were looking at each other with amaze and excitement on twist and revelation of event. I was still sitting in the couch and looking at Amanika. I got up and with a grin and smile on the face, extended my hand towards Anamika and said “ Thanks ANAMIKA. Ultimately, I could find the MYSTERY GIRL. But tell you the truth, this incident had never occurred . It is all concocted by me for fb story.”
Anamika shot back , giggled and said “ So also….. I am not the MYSTERY GIRL Mine is also first half of your concocted story.
This was part of my PG Investigative Journalism thesis. I carried out thorough search with authorities concerned on your post and became the MYSTERY GIRL myself. The whole drawing room busted with hearty laughs and hugging each other for dramatic outcome of fb posting .
A White Stick Beckoning A Walking Stick
(Manohar Naidu, Virginia, USA)
I am an early morning walker. After becoming plus seventy, during walk, I was losing self-confidence due to diminishing eyesight, slow reaction coupled with numerous potholes, open manholes and army of stray dogs on streets and on uneven footpaths. They were potential dangers to my routine health care which I was doing at twilight of my life. And this time, the walking stick which I had kept for years with me, become a real dear and protective companion to me for my daily walk.
One day I missed my morning walk and decided to compensate with a stroll to nearby park in the evening. It was around 5.30 with mild cool air . Park was bustling with activity by old and young alike, lot of children playing and ladies attending Lord Hanumam Temple in the park. I was very happy with whole surrounding, got settled myself on the cement concrete bench and kept my memorabilia on right side, touching the bench and ground. Just then, a lady came near my bench with a boy about ten years old and made the boy to sit near by me. She also told and instructed the boy that she will be back as soon as arati (salutation) is over in the temple. The boy was blind and was holding a white stick between his knees. The white stick was a support to locate obstacles and also an indicative of his physical visual impairment. With his sixth sense, he could feel that someone is sitting next to him, that is me.
The boy suddenly asked me. “ Uncle what game they are playing ?”
I looked in front and told him “ One boy is blindfolded with a handkerchief and he is required to touch other boys around. The boy who gets caught, will be blindfolded and the game goes on.
” The boy was very much excited. I saw him searching his pocket. Took out his handkerchief , tied around his eyes , blindfolded himself and rushed towards ground, saying “ Its very easy game for me”.
His white stick fell, leaned and got stuck on my chiseled walking stick, beckoning “ Will You Help Me”. I was awakened .The symbolic message was crystal clear to me.
Temple bells stopped ringing and arati ended. The lady took her boy from playground along with his white stick.
Moment I reached home, I phoned a voluntary organisation and pledged myself for “ EYE DONATION“ posthumously . My very humble and the modest contribution to humanity.
REVELATION OF HALF TRUTH
(Manohar Naidu, Virginia, USA)
It was yet another transfer. It was expected having spent stipulated period at a tenure place of posting. This was with a icing on a cake. To my home town Nagpur with promotion. Though Nagpur was not a new place, but three decades of gap and new locality, new office environment was a big change. The most urgent task was getting servant maid in the locality.
But to my surprise, the very next day of shifting to new apartment, I found my wife Chitra talking to a woman. She was Kantabai our new maid. Tall, about 45 years of age, neatly dressed,spoke clear Hindi with Marathi accent. During conversation, it was revealed to my wife that she is already working in 5 houses and stays nearby juni basti – a walking distance away. On questioning about her family she told that her husband is mason, skilled in polishing the floor tiles with his own machine. But now he is sick for last couple of months. She had two older daughters and one youngest son. All studying. This was her brief bi-data. She was employed.
Kantabai proved good in her assigned tasks besides being punctual and clean without taking leave or requesting for advance. Chitra became quite intimate with her and she was given additional work of cooking. Chitra was particular in giving blouse piece and saree on occasion on festival. She had also promised to visit her house in near future and attend her daughter’s marriage whenever it takes place. Kantabai was also responsive to Chitra’s needs beyond routine work.
In couple of years I retired from service and settled in Nagpur. My only son had gone to US for higher studies and subsequently got employed in IT multinational company to his satisfaction. Chitra was feeling too lonely and intense desire to meet her only son and looked for suitable match for him. In the meanwhile we got our VISA to US and left India for six months.
When back home, we inquired about Kantabai, our immediate requirement. We were told that she is not seen around after the death of her husband recently. Chitra was shocked. Kantabai had very closely associated with house chores for years We decided to visit her house to convey our condolence. The very next day we visited Kantabai’s house in locality with wall to wall old dwellings. We were wel -comed with greeted hands by young girl in her first room. Room was well maintained with clean cushions on wooden three piece sofa .Walls were distempered with pleasing shade. Kitchen shelf was visible with shining utensils placed neatly.
We expressed our sorrow. She wiped her moist eyes and got composed. We assured her all the help in near future, if need be. She introduced her daughters Lata and Suman and son Suresh, all were studying. She had quit working. We returned with heavy heart pondering over her fate and enroute bought vegetables for home.
Years passed. Our visits to US became often along with Chitra’s anxiety of son’s marriage. One fine morning we saw Kantabai at our door greeting us with folded hands. She appeared fresh and rejuvenated than years back we saw her. Chitra was happy to see her and ushered her in drawing room sofa, putting her arms on the visitor’s shoulder. Kantabai opened her bag and took out one envelop gave it to my wife with folded hand and said “ My eldest daughter Anjali”s marriage invitation. You had promised to attend.”
Chitra took the invitation in her hand so graciously remembered and given. But with her sharp memory she shot back, looking deep into her eyes “Kanta, if I remember correctly your eldest daughter’s name is Lata and second is Suman. But who is Anjali ?”
Kantabai gave a impish smile. With a pause she said. “That was HALF TRUTH, I had lied when I came to work in your household years back just to grab the job urgently needed. In fact I have two more older daughters. I was afraid that I may not be employed if I say I have five children”. She sipped water from glass kept on side table. I looked amazed towards Chitra.
Kantabai continued. “The truth is, I was married at a very early age of sixteen years to a man 12 years older than me . He was my elder sister’s husband. She died with one month infant baby girl and another two year infant girl. .My sister whom I loved like a mother, took a promise, that I shall look after two kids during her dying hours with clasping hand in my hand. Things were comfortable for twenty five years. Then he became bed ridden due to paralysis. All children toiled hard while working part time with nursing homes, taking tutions and taking advantage of free education in college, attended libraries and took guidance from all possible sources. All are graduates now. Eldest one Anjali and the next Meera are in government jobs. Youngest just cleared his engineering degree. Lata and Suman have passed bank exams and awaiting appointment letters.”
She paused again. “ Anjali and Meera still do not know that I am her aunt.”
We praised the struggle and sacrifices made by her. Gifted a blouse piece and Rs 101/- as a token of good luck .She knelt down , touched our feet and left. I kept my right arm on Chitra’s shoulder while looking at Kantabai who had surprised us with THE REVELATION OF HALF TRUTH walking away.
It was yet another.. http://www.induswomanwriting.com/.
CONFESSION OF A COP — SATYAMEV JAYATE
On entering my drawing room, I relaxed in a couch. It was not busy day in the court. Perhaps, on this auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan,many lucky people wanted to celebrate the occasion with their siblings. My maid brought hot cup of tea with some biscuits and kept on my side table along with postal letters of the day. I just shuffled dak and one pink envelop attracted my attention. The beautiful and familiar handwriting could not hide the identity of sender, though mischievously written on bottom left corner “Guess Who ?” This guess work I was doing for more than 20 years now, in each and every letter. He was my brother TARUN. The address was very neatly written Ms.TARUNA RAI, District & Sessions Judge, Bunglow No.10, Civil Lines, Lapata Gunj, Ujjwal Pradesh,990 099. It was sheer excitement for me to get letter from only younger brother on this auspicious day.
My dear respected Didi,
Pranam. I am sure, you will get this letter on right occasion and time when you are relaxing, taking tea with your favourite glucose biscuits, and of course day of Raksha Bhandan. Thanks for constant blessings and prayers, now I am promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police. To-day, I am connecting dots and dashes of family. When I was just 12 years old – too young to understand life and society, we lost our mother. She was shocked by the judgement delivered by Hon.High Court against you when you were 22 years old and pursuing/preparing for IAS exams. Accused , the son of a prominent lawyer with political and government connections, was left scot-free from charges of rape and assault on you just because of absence of evidence,witness coupled with weak and saleable public prosecutor. Our late father,though respected and honorable school teacher, could not pursue the case and became bedridden. You had put up brave fight with destiny as BRAVEHEART to become District Judge and sacrificed your valuable years for me. You are my sister by birth, foster mother by destiny and above all, God for me. Please read carefully the following:
(1) An Extract of News Paper Report Dt. 26/1/2012.
“ …..Shri Gyan Prasad, State Minister for Home, was found dead on arrival at Kitpur Rly Stn. He was accompanied by personal police bodyguard TARUN RAI, Sr.Inspector….”
(2) An Extract of News Paper Report Dt. 1/ 3/2013
“…… After thorough investigation,into the cause of death of Late Shri Gyan Prasad, former Home Minister, by all concerned authorities, it is concluded by the government that no evidence was found of foul play and it was accidental due to overdose of sleeping pills and seizure of heart while sleeping……”
This bastard (sorry for professional lingo) Gyan Prasad, is non other than who shattered your life ,destroyed aspirations of school teacher and was cause of our mother’s untimely death. Today, I CONFESS that I murdered Gyan Prasad, in train with overdose of sleeping pills and then slowly gagged him to death, destroying all evidences and creating scene .My profession, skill to destroy and create evidence helped me to avenge prestige and honour Didi you had suffered years back. The fire was burning since then in my heart for years and all rakhis, still preserved, always reminded me, the unfinished task ahead. THE BLINDFOLDED STATUE WITH SYMBOL OF JUSTICE, I BEG AND SEEK PARDON. SATYAMEV JAYATE (Truth Alone Prevails).
With Love yours
My daughter Jaya had come on vacation from States with her family – husband, a grown up son and a daughter. She expressed her desire to re-visit Juhu Beach with her children. It was almost 25 years back, at Juhu Beach she was swept into the sea due to high tide, when she was just 15 years old.She had gone with her friends after finishing her board exams to have fun at sea shore. She had entered the water,as the waves retreated and she further went into the sea. She was not knowing swimming. High rising tide, tossed her. Other girls started shouting “ Bachao..Bachao (Help..Help). There was no lifeguard seen around. Suddenly, one girl, who appeared to be foreigner, swimming around, rushed towards my drowning daughter, caught hold of my daughter’s long hair, pulled her out to safe area,pumped out the salt water from her stomach, with her quick and trained maneuver. It was only because of fast and prompt act of gratitude of this unknown angle, my daughter was saved.
This incident was a turning point for Jaya. She enrolled herself for swimming classes and by the time she was 3rd year Engineering College, she was University champion. She had a inner desire to express God and as well to unknown foreigner, her gratitude for saving her life from almost drowning. Various options were discussed, and finally she volunteered to work 2 hours every Sunday at Juhu Beach as LIFE GUARD. In next 2 years,she could save seven lives. Later she was married and joined her husband in US. Her love and zeal for swimming never diminished. She continued her swimming activity but not as LIFE GUARD, since in U.S. all public pools and sea shores are provided with licensed lifeguards. Jaya encouraged and ensured that her children are fully trained in swimming and champion in their schools in U.S. and always reminded her children, the importance of saving human life.
Today, she was again at Juhu Beach with her children in their swim suit. While sitting on sand, it appeared that Jaya was lost in old euphoria and sweet memories of past. Son Daksh and daughter Mehak had come out of water and were drying their body with towel. Suddenly panic-stricken shout was heard “ BACHAO…… BACHAO . Jaya looked at Daksh and Daksh looked into mother’s eyes and understood her silent but expressive ordain. He rushed and leaped into the sea, Mehak followed to assist him and caught hold of drowning girl and brought her to safe place on sand. One more life was saved. As usual there was no lifeguard around . Jaya hugged both her children with tears of happiness and thanked them for their act of bravery towards society. GRATITUDE EXPRESSED… and carried forward.
Jumping the “Queue”
IT was a bad day for me. Recently, a new store had come up nearby, just a walking distance from my residence. As a promotional gimmick, the store was selling many items – buy one, get one free. This included buy one litre milk for Rs.30/- and get one litre pouch free. It worked out to be Rs.15/- a litre milk !!! It was good and I could make curd regularly besides other use. Sale picked up, resulting a long queue early morning near the store. As obedient senior citizen, I was always followed the ‘Q’. Later. some roadside tea makers started buying milk in bulk to the tune of fifty pouches or more by jumping the “Q”, since they were purely business minded. For a few days, I watched this tamasha. Having spent life time with discipline at every stage and having spent more than 3 years in US where such things are unimaginable, I could not tolerate this rowdiness. Today, I protested and had a heated altercation with the person jumping the ‘Q”. Though,the intruder retreated with abuses to me, strangely none came in support of me.
AFTER half an hour of bank opening, I went to encash part of my monthly pension money. I was No. 3 in the ‘Q”. I saw one college girl, just dashing with a cheque to counter ahead of us, breaking the ‘Q’. I told very softly to the girl, please get into ‘Q’. She said, do not worry I shall take after you, still standing near the counter defying my request to get into ‘Q’.Took out her cell phone and against all unwritten rules of etiquette for use of cell phone started talking unmindful of people around. None standing behind me protested against her and I felt that I am making fool of myself .
TO-DAY, being Wednesday, the day when my younger Dr.sister is available, I decided to meet her. She was just staying about 3 Kms from my house. I took out my helmet and scooter Lamby, which was spick and span with occasional failure. Its re-painted bottle green color was bright and elegant inspite of vintage model of 1978. One kick, it did not fail me. After passing and crossing numerous potholes and road cutting for laying water pipe lines which are never filled by concerned authorities, I reached cross road manned by traffic light signals and spineless traffic police. Moment I reached, RED light came up. I just stopped near the obliterated stop line leaving some space on the left. While waiting ,I was wondering ,why STOP word is written beyond line, it should have been before line. Vehicles instead of stopping before line, cross and go on word STOP defeating the very purpose of a line. This is what exactly happened. On my left, though there was no scope for smooth passing of any vehicle, two young boys on bike passed from side of me and halted on the line as well as on word STOP. They were in twenties without helmet. Both were putting on pair of goggles. Pillion rider had put his cell phone cord across his neck. Bike appeared to be costly,high powered and new. Both were wearing jeans and distinct color shirts. Moment, the bike stopped, the boy who was sitting on pillion and was chewing paan (betel leaves with areca nut and lime), blew and spat red saliva from his mouth right ahead of front wheel of my Lamby. I protested loudly. The pillion rider with red shirt, lifted his goggles on his forehead in filmy style with dirty red-maroon ugly set of teeth, giggled and said “ SORRY KAKA – PHIR MILENGE (Sorry Uncle – Will meet you again) A sarcastic apology !
THE boy driving the bike, , after ensuring that the policeman on duty was looking other side ,accelerated his bike and sped past, inspite of RED light was still on and “Jumped the Signal”. I looked at the nearby lady commuter on her Scooty, and said “ See how these boys are behaving” She said “Hhaoo”. This is typical Nagpur originated dialect which does not indicate yes or no – neutral and noncommittal.
GREEN signal came up and I proceeded ahead leaving behind the incident. Stopped at Indian Oil Gas Station, stood again in “Q”. Fortunately, none jumped the ‘Q’ as none was behind me .While coming closer to sister’s place, it appeared that some accident had occurred just a few minutes before. I stopped my Lamby on one side and started inquiring about the accident. Oil tanker had spilled the oil on cement road making it slippery.Two boys riding the bike at neck break speed, slipped off and dashed against the road divider. The bike was laying across the road divider . Two boys who appeared to be thrown out, were laying on either side of the road divider. One boy I could recognise, who had just “Jumped the Signal” . I felt so sorry for him. Had he waited for green signal perhaps this would not happened. I looked at the other boy with red shirt. He was laying with face up. Thick red blood was oozing out from his mouth as if he is spitting out chewed betel leaves. His eyes were wide open. Oh God ! He was dead. The expression of his eyes was saying “ SORRY KAKA….I JUMPED YOUR “ Q “….( Sorry Uncle …..). A non sarcastic silent apology.