Friday, 19 December 2008

Requiem for a friend


In the normal case, he would have left the office shortly after 5 pm. But just before closing time, a machine breakdown had been reported and he was assigned the call. The problem was a knotty one and took a long time to fix. By the time he got the service report signed, washed, and changed from his work clothes to normal office attire, it was past 11 pm.

It took a while to wave down a taxi. And finally a long wait at Bandra station for the Harbour Line local that will take him to his wife and two kids and his home in Mazgaon.

There were only a handful of commuters in the first-class compartment at that late hour and by the time the train left Wadala station, he found that he was all alone. Not that he was afraid. He was a Mazgaon boy, born and brought up in Bombay and knew the area well. As the train rattled through the night, past the dilapidated industrial shantytown of Sewri and the long-abandoned warehouses of Cotton Green, he fell into an uneasy, fitful slumber.

They came for him at Reay Road.

One look at the three youths that towered over him in a half circle and he knew he was in trouble. Half-crazed with drugs and armed with switchblades, he guessed them to be members of one of the many gangs that operated in the eastern dockland area. He knew better than put up a fight and willingly parted with his wallet, watch and his gold chain.

They wanted his ring as well but try as he might, he could not get it off his finger, which for the stoned youth seemed like deliberate delaying tactics. So they pulled him up roughly to his feet, stabbed him once and jumped out of the train which was slowing down for its stop at Dockyard Road station.

Bleeding profusely but still conscious, he staggered out of the train and managed to drag himself to the stationmaster’s room. Still thinking lucidly, he described what had happened and gave the stationmaster his name, address, and office phone number. By the time the stationmaster with the help of a few good Samaritans got him to a hospital, he had lost much blood and slipped into a coma.

He died two days later.

It took us weeks to recover from the death of a colleague who was liked as much for his easy charm as for his quaint, Goan-accented English. What we found hard to reconcile ourselves to, was the irrationality of it all; how a number of seemingly insignificant factors conspired to come together on that particular night to bring him in front of an assassin’s knife.
Photo Courtesy: www.protectmystaff.co.uk

4 comments:

Razigan said...

Yeah........, The biggest threat to mankind is domestic antisocialists.

More than a million people die because of these mosquitos, and we speak lot about the lions (terrorists), which kill a few in a year. Do nothing for either.......

padmajav said...

So terrible...
I suppose on a lonely night, fellow human beings are capable of more evil that the so-called super-naturals... terrible...

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Such a waste. such a waste.

Thiruvengadam said...

For those who beleive in destiny, that's what we call fate. His distiny conspired with the cirsumstances, pushing him to face the ill-fate, which appeared in front of him in the form of those miscreants. He wouldn't have even dreamt in the morning that he would be all alone in the local train at the stoke of mid-night.

Indeed a terrible thing to have happened.

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.