The Mystery Girl
by Manohar Naidu
Still there was time to chug out the engine. I was a 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.
A week more for me to retire. I was one of the most experienced drivers with incident free career, though I had started my career 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 for post retirement to visit our son in States.
Time showed 0500 and I chanted my prayer, re-checked the green signal, pressed the button for whistle, released the brakes, pushed the throttle slowly and engine rolled out carrying 18 coaches and more than thousand passengers and other staff members.
I had been always an alert and conscientious in performance of my duties. I was rather role model amongst my junior colleagues.
The train 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 a 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 the control room and the guard had also come. The gate man on duty also joined us.
When I came back to the engine, I looked for the girl. She was nowhere to be seen. Query was made with the gate man. He told me that a young girl had come and alerted him and he got busy with control room. He did not know at what time she left and where she had gone. All the action was taken by me and the guard on duty as per the rules and protocol and the traffic was resumed after about an 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 week's time. But who was THE MYSTERY GIRL?
I retired from service shortly afterwards, spent a couple of months with my family moving around in India. Back home, I engaged myself in computer classes to keep self busy. Iwent to States with wife and spent six months joyful good time over there with our son and his family. Also became FB addict, and 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 my 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 vehicles is easily heard. I was doing my post graduation of “Investigative Journalism” and I used to do a 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 the '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, and 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 the 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, and 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 the event. I was still sitting in the couch and looking at Anamika.
I got up and with a grin and smile on the face, extended my hand towards her and said, “Thanks ANAMIKA. Ultimately, I could find the MYSTERY GIRL. But to 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. ****