Friday, August 15, 2008

A tale without an end

Most people, perhaps all want to live in a far greater world than the physical or
nsense practical local world they are habituated to live in. In the morning people eagerly wait for the newspaper to know about the events of the world –that do not have always any bearing on their day-to-day life. Still there lies a subtle concern for that outer world that belongs to them also in their greater selves. If for any reason newspaper is not available to a person on a morning day the reaction is as bad as taking one’s bread without butter. The sense lies in an absence of a required something. One may argue that the discomfort or uneasiness lies essentially in habitual attachment and not in failing to have a link to the outer world. To them I must say that they are partly correct as human beings in their very nature are inclined to move in mechanical routine to feel the existence comfortable. The blatant example of such attachment to mechanical repetition is the existence of creeds in religions. Most believers can not stick to their gods without creeds. Man loves to make everything into religion as they are comfortable in routine and creeds to stick to. But at the same time there exists a greater being in man though not predominantly active and free in reigning in over the ways of life. So what we see in man is the interplay of these two opposite tendencies –the impulse to return to inertness and a will or want for freedom for something otherwise and different from all that limit his soul’s aspiration. But I think I have already been far from my actual position behind my raising the issue of morning newspaper. Actually I wanted to say that as a newspaper brings to man the whole outer world of life which touches him in a greater way so was the platform of Sitarampur railway station to me. I could breathe greater life there. To be true to my feeling I touched life there also which one can not find in the cold and fixed letters of a newspaper. A newspaper makes the world small and the facts can not carry mysteries. It is an official statement or may even be a documentary on life but not the life itself. On the other hand I got a sense of far in Sitarampur station. I found there unknown also. There hung about tales in the station –tales of which I could never know the ends. It was a miniature of a living world to me. Nothing begins or ends in a railway station. So I visited the station frequently without any practical necessity and stayed there for sometime. Generally I strolled along the long platform when it was not train-time. Most of the time I liked to sit on the bench under the tree and roamed in mind’s own ways.

The other day when
I went to the station I found very few people a
s it was much before the time of arrivals of both the up and down trains. Bhola –a dog who also made the station its home –was sleeping near the station-master’s room. As I walked along the platform I found someone sitting on the bench which was my favourite. There were other benches but I liked it as it was under a tree and was at the outer end of the platform. I went near the bench and gave him a closer look. He appeared to be a Bengali like me. There was no Bengali living in Sitarampur except me and so I thought that he was waiting for 2115 UP. But for that matter the travellers generally did not rest on this bench. While I was thinking about him apparently without showing any interest for him –he suddenly told me showing the other side of the bench, “You may sit here”. And he moved a little to make a comfortable space for me to sit there. I sat beside him. So some casual exchanges went on between us. I came to know that he was not a resident of Sitarampur. Even he had never known the existence of this place before coming here. He had got down here by mistake thinking it his destination-i.e. Balagarh. He had never travelled even in this route before. He had boarded the train as advised by his friend in a letter and whom he had been going to. He had been tired and felt sleepy in the train. So he had requested a co-passenger for making an alert when the train would reach Balagarh. Unfortunately he had been wrongly alerted and as he had been sleepy-he alighted in a hurry. He discovered the mistake after the train had left. So he was waiting for the next train. As he had to wait for two long hours for the next train we tried to get closer to each other as friends and went on talking and discussing many things under the sky and in half an hour we knew each other’s names and relevant information.

Meanwhile I called a porter and asked him
to call Keshav –the Chai-walla. Keshav was very loyal to me and though there was no passenger then for his tea-buisness-he came to me within a few minutes carrying his kettle. So our chatting got a boosting with Keshav’s hot tea and in another half an hour we became friends. Time, which had hung as a heavy burden on my friend when he got down here, overtook his waiting mind now. Slowly a shadow of parting pain gathered about us. So I invited him. I requested him to drop here on his way back to his home from Balagarh. He happily accepted my invitation. The time was rushing towards us by an unavoidable pressure by the imminent 2115 UP that both of us were very much eager to ensure our next meeting together. I told him to drop a letter to the station master here informing him with reference to my name the exact day of his coming so that I would be able to be present at the station to receive him. It was always better to get me under the care of the station master who was my friend. There remained many unfinished discussions and tales which could only be finished on another day under this tree where they were born. The bell on the platform tolled for both the arrival and parting times. We got up and I led him to a suitable place on the platform for boarding a proper and good compartment. In seconds the train rushed in the platform and fixed everyone’s destiny instantly with its overpowering presence. We embraced each other. I reminded him again of my invitation to my home. He boarded the train and got a convenient seat beside a window. None of us at that parting moment felt that we had been strangers to each other even three hours ago. The train left the platform.

I did not receive any letter from Amal (the name of my new found friend) in the next week when he was scheduled to return from Balagarh. But I got it after a year not from Balagarh but from his home. He wrote that he was sorry for not dropping in my place as the return ticket had been bought by his friend in a hurry without knowing my programmed destination. He knew it only after his train had left Balagarh. In spite of that he had not been discouraged as he thought that he would break his journey at my place. But instantaneously he came to discover that he had not known the name of my station as during our discussion the name of the station had never come to our mind as something necessary. I knew it as my home and not by its name and he had never required to know the name of this station as he started for Balagarh station with the ticket he had bought before coming here. Perhaps man is always unaware of most important thing he is living with like air he breathes in. However he had checked the names of all the stations of this route but it had not helped him anymore as the name of Sitarampur was never a known name to him. It was only recently that while discussing the matter with a friend –he referred my name and other matters that he knew about me; he came to know the name of this station as the friend came out to be a common friend of us incidentally. He wrote that he would surely come to me whenever he would find an opportunity.

I did not know whether he would ever find that opportune time as life has always been seeking through its own instincts newer destinations with people and places for telling other tales. So even if he would chance to be here through detour slipping the course of destiny –we would not be able to continue the unfinished tale that had began a year ago under the tree. It would be another tale and also with two different persons though with the same names.

But whatever it might be –a tale never reaches its end in life.

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