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Tales Of Train Travellers

Tales Of Train Travellers

the 3 travellers in the story

This short story shares the experiences of three seasoned travellers – Ramen Barua, Subhash Sen and Dipon Saikia – who meet in a train compartment and…

By Rhituparna Chakraborty

Mr. Ramen Barua was a frequent traveler. His job required extensive travelling. Most of the time he would travel by bus. However, he preferred train travel because then he could get some sleep because of the comfortable first class sleeper coaches. His organization took good care of the employees and Ramen Barua was immensely happy with his profile, the clients and of course the company.

Barua was in his late 40s. With a height of 5 feet 9 inches, robust build, curly hair and handle-bar moustache, Mr. Barua had always been a fitness freak and conscious eater. Since he had to eat outside food often, he would order plain lentil soup and some veggies, with either plain flat breads or steamed rice. He would request the waiter/waitress/chef to ensure that his food had no other spice other than some salt, pepper and turmeric with less or no oil.

This time Mr. Barua was on a trip to Rajpur for a deal. He had cracked the deal and was pleased to have acquired new clients. It was a week long trip and Mr. Barua was enervated. He was thankful that he would be home tomorrow morning. Also, his train compartment was cozy and clean. More so, he was happy that he would get good sleep tonight because of this spotless, snug compartment. After arranging his luggage neatly, he sat comfortably, and looked out of the window.

The other three berths in the compartment were yet to be occupied. He wondered who his co-passengers would be. Just then someone opened the door of the compartment. Two gentlemen were standing in the door way. One of them was carrying a black big suitcase while the other carried an oblong bag. Mr. Barua greeted them with a warm smile. The gentlemen smiled back at him, stepped in and grabbed their respective berths.

Mr. Barua was an affable, cheerful person. Adept at initiating small talk, he made friends easily. His demeanor was such that anyone would be comfortable in sharing even the darkest of their secrets. One of the gentlemen said, ‘Hello, I am Subhash Sen.’ Looking at the other gentleman, Subhash Sen then said, ‘He is my colleague and a very good friend, Dipon Saikia.’

Dipon Saikia looked at Mr. Barua and smiled. Mr. Barua said, ‘I am Ramen Barua. Nice to meet you.’ The train then started and the journey began. The train whistled and then chugged along picking up pace.

Mr. Sen and Mr. Barua got along very well. They kept on chit chatting about diverse topics while Mr. Saikia listened to them. Mr. Saikia barely spoke. Even if he did, it was in monosyllables. The train stopped in between at some stations. At around 7 pm, a crew member came to know about the dinner requirements.

Mr. Barua said, ‘Get me some plain lentil soup and a plate of steamed rice.’ While the crew member jotted down Mr. Barua’s order, Mr. Sen said, ‘Get me a plate of “Dal Khichdi” and get some curd separately.’ Mr. Saikia added, ‘Get me three plates of steamed rice, lentil soup, mutton …. please ensure there are enough chunky pieces of mutton and get two big servings.’ He then said, ‘Get some extra plates as well.’

Mr. Saikia seemed like he was in his early 50s. He was of lean structure with a height of around 5 feet 5 inches or so. He had scanty hair on his head with a prominent bald spot. After the waiter left, Mr. Saikia opened his suitcase and took out a spotless cotton white loin cloth also known as ‘Dhoti’ and a white cotton ‘Kurta’. He then told Mr. Barua and Mr. Sen, ‘I will quickly freshen up, and come’.

Mr. Barua smiled and said, ‘Wow, I must say, even while travelling, you are specific about freshening up before dinner time. Splendid! It’s such a nice habit. I wish I could be like you. I barely have patience have to change clothes.’ Mr. Saikia smiled and said nothing. Mr. Sen then looked at Mr. Barua and asked, ‘So, do you travel very often….?’ And the two gentlemen got busy talking about their work schedule and so on.

After 15 minutes, Mr. Saikia came back from the washroom clad in a kurta and dhoti. 10 minutes later food arrived. Everything was piping hot. The plates and other utensils were spotlessly clean. The food was arranged neatly on the attached table. While Mr. Barua and Mr. Sen helped themselves, Mr. Saikia took out his suitcase again and pulled out a tiny booklet hidden amidst the stack of clothes.

He then leafed through the pages of that booklet and chanted something. While Mr. Sen ate nonchalantly, Mr. Barua became curious. After chanting, Mr. Saikia grabbed a plate, put all the chunks of mutton in that plate along with heaps of rice and went out of the compartment. Mr. Barua was perplexed. While munching on the food, Mr. Sen kept on talking about how humdrum his job was and how much he detested travelling.

However Mr. Barua could not focus on the conversation. He quickly finished his meal and stepped out of the compartment on the pretext of washing his hands. As he stepped out, he saw Mr. Saikia standing at the exit door of the moving train holding the plate of food in a way as if he was offering the food to someone outside. It was a queer sight. Why was he doing that?

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Mr. Barua quickly washed his hands and came back to the compartment. Mr. Sen gave out a loud burp and looking at Mr. Barua, he said, ‘The food was delicious. Usually food in train is not great. But whenever I am travelling with Saikia, I always get good food. He talks to the authorities before hand so that the food quality is perfect. Aah that was a scrumptious meal!’

Mr. Barua nodded and then, with hesitation added, ‘Ummm…. where did he go? It has been some time. He should be having dinner by now.’ Mr. Sen sighed and said, ‘Well, there are certain things in his life.’ Mr. Barua looked at him puzzled and Mr. Sen continued, ‘Well, long time ago, there were some problems in Mr. Saikia’s life. He had a huge plot of land in a village. Since he had to be in the city for his office work, there was no one to take care of that piece of land. Because of that, there were people illegally occupying that area and court proceedings never seemed to help. Those people were not willing to vacate that plot and give up the illegal possession of the property. That’s when some acquaintance of Mr. Saikia suggested meeting a local conjurer in the village. With no other way left, Mr. Saikia went ahead to meet that conjurer.

“The conjurer suggested Mr. Saikia to keep a spirit with him. That spirit would protect the land and would heed to all the orders of Mr. Saikia. However, the spirit had to be taken care of well by providing food and also once in a while the spirit needed a human sacrifice. If it did not get that, then someone in Mr. Saikia’s family would suffer. Mr. Saikia somehow agreed to that and hence wherever he goes, the spirit follows. Mr. Saikia offers it food. Nonetheless, since Mr. Saikia could not offer any human sacrifice, his family is now sick and suffering and there is no way of this.’

Mr. Barua froze when he heard all of this. Mr. Sen on the other hand was not perturbed at all. Apparently he had been working with Mr. Saikia since long and was used to all of this. When Mr. Saikia came back to the compartment, Mr. Barua was still in a daze. Through out the rest of the journey Mr. Barua spoke less or nothing. He could not sleep a wink. He counted every second, every minute. He just waited to reach home. As soon as he reached his hometown, he quickly grabbed his luggage, waved a polite goodbye to the two gentlemen and rushed home.

 

#Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction with no relation to any person/organism living or dead. Every episode, every character is a work of imagination. Any resemblance to any person, organism, place or character is purely coincidental. There is no intention to hurt or rebuke anyone through this work. 

 

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  • Oh!Such a refreshing tale in a train setting.. We all meet strange characters on a journey.. Human sacrifice.. Spirit.. A short story narrated in the perfect manner.. Very RAY ish..awesome…

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