Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Martyr – Fiction Short Story

THE MARTYR 
Fiction Short Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

6:30 AM.

A cold damp rainy morning.

A woman sits on a bench on the solitary platform of Girinagar Railway Station.

She looks at her watch.

Then she looks towards the Railway Track.

She has a worried expression on her face.

The Station Master comes out of his office holding two flags, one green and one red.

He sees the woman and smiles at her.

The woman gets up from the bench and asks the station master: “Is the shuttle late?”

“Yes, the shuttle has been delayed. The express train is being stopped here. The shuttle has been detained at the outer signal and will arrive here after the express train goes away.”

“Oh, My God…!!!”

“What happened?” asks the station master.

“I will get late for school.”

“Is there something important today?”

“Yes. There is an inspection. We teachers have been told to make sure we are present on time.”

“What time do you have to reach?”

“7:30. The normal school time.”

“Oh.”

“I hope I will reach in time,” the woman says anxiously.

“I don’t think so.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Well, normally the shuttle leaves here at 6:25 and reaches the Junction at 7:10.”

“That’s right. And it is just a 10 minute walk down to school. I’ll reach in time even if my train is a few minutes late, isn’t it?”

“Well, I really can’t say. From here to the junction, it is 45 minutes running time for the shuttle train. The express is expected to arrive at 6:45 and will be detained here for about 10 minutes. By the time the shuttle arrives and leaves it will easily be 7 o’clock. Even if it makes up time, the shuttle train will not be able to reach the junction by 7:30. And then, you still have a 10 minute walk to school. I don’t think you’ll be able to make it on time.”

“Oh, My God. I will be in trouble if I am late for the school inspection. It will be so humiliating,” the woman says in an anxious voice with nervousness written all over her face.

“You’ve got a first class pass, haven’t you?” the station master asks.

“Yes,” the woman says.

“Then don’t worry. You can travel by the express in the air-conditioned coach. I will tell the TTE to permit you. The fast express train will take less than 20 minutes to reach the junction and you will be there by 7:15 and you can easily reach your school well before 7:30.”

“Thank you so much.”

“What ‘Thank You’? You are like my daughter. This is the least I can do for you.”

“Why is the express stopping here?” the woman asks.

“The express train is being stopped here for Colonel Ashok,” the station master says.

Suddenly the telephone rings and the station master rushes inside his office.

The woman closes her eyes and remembers the station master’s words:

“The express train is being stopped here for Colonel Ashok”

Those words slice through the woman’s heart like a knife slices through butter.

“So Ashok is a Colonel now. A big shot. Big enough to get the express train stopped for him at Girinagar where even the fast passenger does not halt...” the woman says to herself.

Then the woman is filled with hate and regret.

As the woman remembers her days with Ashok, her thoughts become bitter, and she says to herself: “Had it not been for the scheming bitch Menaka who mesmerized Ashok with her enticing charms and stole him away from me – today – I would been Mrs. Ashok. Yes  it is me who should have rightfully been Mrs. Ashok – I would have been a Colonel’s Wife – a Memsahib.”

Suddenly, the shrill whistle of the diesel engine of the express train disturbs her train of thoughts and the express train arrives on the platform.

The air-conditioned coach stops right in front of her. 

In the door of the coach stands Menaka, Ashok’s wife.

Menaka sees the woman on the platform and smiles at her.

But the woman does not return the smile. 

The woman turns her face away from Menaka.

But the woman furtively looks at the door of the air-conditioned coach with the corner of her eyes trying to catch a glimpse of Ashok.

The big show-off that he is, the woman is sure that Ashok will be all dressed up in his resplendent army uniform strutting like a peacock.

But there is no sign of Colonel Ashok.

Instead she sees a young officer in uniform getting down from the train with Menaka.

Then both of them, Menaka and the young army officer, start walking towards the end of the train.

“Come on, get in fast,” the station master motions to the woman on the platform, pointing his hand towards the door of the air-conditioned coach. 

He says something to the TTE.

The TTE tells her to go inside and sit on Seat No. 30.

She sits on Seat No. 30.

A family – a man, a woman and a small boy sit on the seats around her.

There is a jerk, the tug of the engine, and the train starts moving and picks up speed.

The woman looks at her watch.

6:50.

She heaves a sigh of relief.

She will be well on time for the school inspection.

The TTE arrives to check her pass.

Curious, the woman asks the TTE: “Why did the train stop here?”

“To detach the refrigerated van at the end of the train,” the TTE says.

“Refrigerated van?” the woman asks.

“The refrigerated van was carrying the body of an army officer who died in action and sacrificed his life for the nation. The dead army officer’s widowed wife was sitting right here on Seat No. 30 – the same seat where you are now sitting,” the TTE says.

“Army Officer? Dead?” the woman asks.

“His name was Colonel Ashok,” the man sitting in front says.

“Ashok? Colonel Ashok?” the woman asks with disbelief.

“Yes. The brave martyr’s name was Colonel Ashok. And hat’s off to the courage of the Colonel’s wife. Despite losing her husband the courageous lady was so poised and calm. It is because of the sacrifice of such brave people that we can live in peace … ”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
This Story is a work of Fiction. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Copyright Notice:
No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is an abridged version of my story first p
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