To Pull Or Not to Pull
by Dincy Mariyam
“Did you see the email from thesis committee?” Krissh said out loud still staring at her computer screen. I was reading an article on ‘Why it is important to be stupid in science?’ and was startled by that question.
“No! What does it say?” I asked in an alarmed tone.
“Oh… It’s a reminder about the thesis submission deadline. It’s in 3 days”.
“Okay. How does it matter to us? We did that one year ago.”
“I know...time flies fast!” she said with a sigh, staring into infinity.
I continued to watch her wondering what was going on in her mind at that moment. Then suddenly it all came back to me, flooding me with memories from the past, the adventurous train journey the two of us were a part of along with two other common friends after the thesis submission. My face lit up.
“Krissh! Do you remember the train journey from last year? The one where we were going back to ‘Pune state’ after thesis submission?” I could see a grin forming on her face and bringing her back to reality.
It was scorching heat in the peak of summer when Krissh and I got out of a rickshaw at the Nowantpur railway station, sweating and panting. We had a train to Pune state at 13.50. We dragged our luggage as we walked into the station to find our train. We were returning to the place where it all began after spending almost a year in the garden city of the country. We had arrived an hour early than the proposed departure time and had to patiently wait for our other two friends, Ratna and Prabha to join us. Having found our compartment in the train and secured our luggage under the seats, we stepped on to the platform to wait for our friends.
When it was fifteen minutes to departure, I checked with Ratna to find out where they were and when they would arrive. They were stuck in a traffic jam at Mathicare, less than two kilometers from the station. I assured myself that there were fifteen more minutes and they should be able to make it on time. I went back to our compartment to watch over our luggage, all the while talking to my parents over the phone. Ten minutes later, Krishh who was still outside gestured to through the sealed window that our friends are still stuck in the traffic jam. I immediately disconnected the call, promising my parents to call them back later, and ran to the platform in a state of panic. I searched for the ticket examiner (TT) to enquire whether the train was by any chance delayed. Unfortunately for us, the answer was in negative and the train would depart as scheduled. I was sure my expression mirrored Krissh’s expression of hopelessness. Suddenly, Prabha called us to say that the traffic had cleared and they would need our help with their luggages which was (just!) 7-10 bags.
Sending a porter to the entrance seemed like a more practical thing to do, considering there were just a couple of minutes to departure.
When the train started to move without any announcements signaling its departure, we had to quickly consider whether to move to Plan B- Pull the chain, stop the train and pay up the fine. As the train started to accelerate, we asked the TT in our adjacent compartment as to what to do, but he put up a sad smile and responded ‘Ab train tho choot gaye’.
We then spotted our friends running towards the train from the entrance. A man who was standing near the other door watching the entire drama as it unfolded, suggested we pull the emergency chain and bring the train to a halt. The TT in an official manner said we would have to pay a fine of more than RS 2000 and warned us of the consequences. Given Ratna’s and Prabha’s history with general clumsiness and sporting abilities, respectively, and their alternative options to reach Pune state, I turned to Krissh to ask her what she thought. With one look we both knew we were thinking the same thing and ran to the nearest emergency chain, which for me involved jumping over two other occupants and pulled the chain with all my strength. I looked around to ask whether the train had halted and indeed it had. As Krissh ran to help our friends, the TT warned me to stay in and not get spotted by the officials who will be on the lookout to see who pulled it. And he stepped out to do his “duties”. Five minutes later, the train started moving, the TT asked me with a smile if our friends got the train. Before I could answer, Ratna and Prabha walked in with a lot of luggage looking like they were being chased for life, the TT just said “Looks like they did” and walked away.
After settling down Ratna began ‘Arey… you know what happened?” and continued without any response from us with ‘We got out of the cab and saw the train moving. Then I shouted ‘Kisine train kho rokho’ while running towards the platform” (I was so right about her!). Prabha interrupted her with a huff ‘This woman just left me behind with the cab driver who wasn’t ready to help me with my luggage and I had so many (She did. 7 huge and heavy bags!). Ratna seemed unperturbed by that and continued from where she left ‘so then I saw the train halting. I looked back at Prabha and shouted “The train has stopped”. We jumped over the fence and got into the platform. Some people waiting at the platform came forward to help us and one of them said ‘Aaram se, Madamji. Lagtha hai train aapkeliye rokha hai!’ *** Disclaimer: All characters in this story are fictional and created purely for entertainment. Any relation to person living or dead is completely coincidental.