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The Kid on the Train – Chapter Story

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The Kid On the Train

“7:51 fast local to Mumbai CST will be arriving 5 min later than usual today on platform number 5…” the announcer shouted into the mike from the comfort of his AC laden Railway Office room behind the Ticketing Window on Dombivli Railway Station.

“Fuck the railways…Trains needed to late today! Why? Why God?..” murmured a teenager from amongst the exasperated crowd gathered and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the said train.

Some heads turned towards the originator of the offending remark. The teenager promptly pulled out his smartphone and started punching furiously on it, probably letting the person on the other side, of his reaching late, but obviously trying to avoid gaze of some of the fellow travellers. The crowd settled back again playing the waiting game, but not before some nods were exchanged somewhere and some smiles somewhere else. To an outsider, the crowd looked just that, a crowd, but the crowd knew what it was. It was an unspoken bond of togetherness shared by the commonality of everyday travelling. They are the so called regulars who have been travelling for years on same local train, same compartment and same door. Heck even the places in the compartment were decided.

“Screw the university. They had to change the exam timings for this last paper. Dumb idiots” the teenager still not satisfied swearing at the Railways, continued his rant in a whisper now. He was angry but he quickly turned his thoughts towards the days that were to come ahead. He was about to take a trip to Goa along with few of his college friends. They had planned elaborately for this trip and everyone was looking forward to it.

The force of pushing that made him lose his balance brought him back to reality. He saw the train entering the railway premises. The crowd was preparing itself for the skirmish it was about to see to board the local train. The teenager went with the flow of the crowd and somehow managed to get inside the train. He was inside the train but not comfortable. He was off balance and was unable to stand upright. The train was so jam packed it was difficult to feel your own body parts after sometime. And he had to endure it for next 45 min! He tried to recite some of the concepts to shift his focus from the numbing sensation that was taking over his hands.

After three stoppages, the train finally reached Dadar, the stop the teenager wanted to alight. He pushed and pulled and huffed and puffed as he wriggled his way out of that crowd and onto the platform. He let a sigh of relief. His hair and shirt was all dishevelled. He quickly tucked his shirt and passed his hands through the hair to settle them down and made a beeline, as did the rest of the morning rush, towards the FOB or Foot Over Bridge. Eventually he sauntered out of the railway premises and caught a Taxi probably to his exam centre. But unawares to him, a group of three men got into another taxi and had started following him.

Bittu Hatela had taken the call that informed him that the kid had reached Dadar and would be soon approaching where they were waiting for him. His instructions were clear, follow the kid, let him write his exams and only when he was returning in the evening to catch his train back, he was to be ambushed and kidnapped. Bittu acknowledged the task and disconnected the call. Kartik Puleya and Ronny Ghista had been eagerly looking at Bittu’s face for his reactions to gauge what today’s score gonna be. They had no idea what they were signing up for, but the promise and lure of easy money and some chickens got them enlisted. Bittu explained to them what was needed of them and they readily obliged. Bittu showed them the photo of the teenager whom they were supposed to follow and kidnap.

Soon the taxi stopped in front of ICT Matunga’s unimposing gate and the kid got out, paid his fare and went in. Bittu dropped Ronny near the entrance to the college and moved the taxi ahead and got down at the Xerox shop ahead. Bittu got out and quickly lit up a cigarette while Kartik settled the taxi driver’s fare. Now they had to just wait for signal from Ronny

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