• Sulogna Mehta

The Moment

He saw the dazzling light approaching from the depths of the dark tunnel-

Bright , yellow light, steadily nearing to blow out the flickering flame of his

life and plunge him into the emptiness of a black satin night.

He closed his eyes. Was it utterly necessary? There was no time to think

anymore. Rather, he didn’t want to know.


Like everyday after work, at Park Street metro-rail station, he had

purchased the ticket for Jatin Das Park. Everyday he would get down at JD

Park and walk for about 15 minutes to his home. But now he muttered to

himself,“ Today, before two stations at Ravindra Sadan, my journey will end

forever.”


He had been loitering on the platform of Ravindra Sadan station for quite a

while.“ Strange place, this platform is. Most journeys begin here, none ends.

The metro station always serves as a hyphen,” he thought.


He felt himself sinking, a dull ache throbbing within him and above his right

eye. He tried to swallow hard, felt a dry, painful taste in his mouth. He tried

to channelize his thoughts, which were like random, rapid brush-strokes of

a mad painter upon a coarse canvas.


In this hyphen of a place, he made a strenuous effort to look normal and

avoid any dubious glances that might come his way. He felt that all eyes on

the platform were glued upon him. He restlessly kept moving from one end

of the platform to the other, afraid to sit or stand at one place for too long.


Though he had always hated to be a nameless figure in a crowd, today, he

sincerely wanted to be lost in the anonymity of a crowd.

His eyes fell on the black letters on the wall opposite the platform, beautiful

poetry lines immortalized on concrete.


“Why do you speak so softly, Death, Death,

Creep up on me, watch me so stealthily?”


He averted his dilated eyes from the wall. They fell on a young couple

walking past him, oblivious to his existence. Life is so beautiful when two

people are in love. They love to live, above all. Their lives are a rainbow

ribbon. Dreams glitter upon their eyelashes.


He smiled inadvertently, his lips twisted in pain.

And strangely though, he wanted to stand before a mirror. He wanted to

seehimself,hisfacialexpressionandexploreeverycontourofhisfacefor

the last time ,perhaps for the first time in many years. Would that 56-year old face have every account written upon it-


His failures, frustrations, futile existence?


He had wanted to do something creative. But had not this distasteful job

snuffed out all his creativity? This bloody job in which stubborn balance

sheets never tallied at one go.


And he thought about how he was labeled a failure even at home. He

thought of his two unemployed B.Com graduate sons. “Would one of them

get the post I would be vacating in a few minutes? But my sons have

always sniggered at my meagre income,” he thought.


He pondered over his relationship with his wife. He never knew when, why

or how a distance had grown between them ; grown, widened like floodplains with every year that passed.


At home, at the office, all accounting remained incomplete. It is difficult to

tally both sides of the balance sheet. Debit versus credit. But today, he

could afford to let it remain unfinished. “Ahh freedom!” He smiled.


But how would it feel? A snapshot crossed his mind - of wheels grinding

over him, reducing his body to a pulp of flesh, shapeless, formless, just as

his life had been.“ But would I be able to bear the intense pain?” And he

knew he would have to. The pain would pass. And then…? Peace. All

encapsulated in a single moment.


He thought of the bloody aftermath. His corpse lying on the railway track-

Commotion, confusion and chaos would erupt among the passengers. An

announcement would follow that the metro-rail service would be

suspended for a few hours. He derived some strange satisfaction thinking

how much inconvenience his demise would cause. Dead, he would be a

man of some consequence, something he hadn’t managed to be while alive.


The following day, a brief report in the newspapers would state that “An

unidentified middle-aged man had committed…”he stopped. An

unidentified man- He desperately searched his trouser pockets. If only he

had been carrying his identity card! He had deliberately left it at home today.

Now he craved for some identification. He hated to be an unidentified

corpse.


Some platform music was playing. Once, he had been interested in music.

“Wasn’t that raga purvi? What difference would it make now, if it were purvi

or bhairavi?”


He involuntarily looked at the clock.6.55. He realised that for over an hour,

he had been on this platform, loitering, watching the arrival and departure

of the trains and with it, the ebb and flow of the commuters. But now is the

time for action.“ Next train. Yes, it would definitely have to be the next train.”


The red neon light on the signboard announced the time for the next train.

7.04.

The countdown had started.

Nine, eight, seven…three, two, one. The moment was upon him. No more

waiting.


The train was rushing in, entering the platform faster than his pounding

heartbeat. The strong beams from the headlight were blurring every visible

object around him. The train slowed down. Slow, very slow. At last, the

sliding doors opened, followed by a slight scramble to get in, to get out.

The moment passed.


He carefully set his right foot inside the compartment. The left followed

with a strange urgency and he rushed to occupy the nearest vacant seat.

The doors automatically closed and he fervently waited for a pre-recorded

female voice to announce in three languages –“Next station-Jatin Das

Park.”






















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