Signalling

by Amit Shankar Saha

The day was when the result of the school-leaving examination was declared. I was on the platform of my familiar underground railway station. Various commuters were coming down the escalators; some were standing in front of the television watching a local league match, some were sitting on plastic chairs and some were loitering around. I was observing them when a young girl's pretty but troubled face caught my sight. I began gazing at her fixedly trying to read her expressions. The train was due in about five minutes and she was was walking to and fro near the edge of the platform. She had a handkerchief in her hands and was constantly stretching it or rolling it on her palms. She looked very agitated.

Once or twice she dabbed her nose with the handkerchief. Was she crying? I could not make out exactly. I went a little closer to her and noticed that she wasn't crying but it seemed that she finished crying not too long ago. I came still closer to her but she turned her face and walked away from me. Then coming back retracing her steps a sudden noise startled her and she stopped still. Apeculiar expression came on her face. The noise was from the crowd watching the television. She stood still for sometime and then with a frustrated expression on her face became still more agitated. Her marching to and fro became quicker. But then from somewhere a man came across her tracks to look down at the railway tracks. It disturbed her and she left that place and went to the far end of the platform, which was relatively deserted. I followed her there.

While following her I heard her sniffle and saw a drop fall behind her hurried footsteps. I knew that it was a drop of tear from her eyes. She was evidently crying. As she came close to the far end of the platform she turned around to resume her to and fro motion. Her face was composed and she was not crying or maybe trying not to cry. But the troubled expression on her face was still there. It was an expression of indecision, of grave consequences as if her life depended on it. The tumultous activities of her mind could be seen partly mirroring on her face. Sometimes it became contorted, sometimes stern. The subtle changes coming on her face were beyond description.

I was staring at her not for long when she stopped moving and looked at the station clock. A couple of minutes more for the train to come. She looked down the railway tracks and a sense of desperation came on her face. It bewildered me more. No doubt she has some sinister motive in her mind I realised. But what was it? It was very diffucult to fathom. (Now I am quite adept.) Aafter much cogitation and tension it dawned upon me. I hardly had a minute to decidewhat to do. I sped to the other end of the platform from where the train was to enter. It was almost time.

As the engine slowed itself at the turning I became prepared. I saw the train enteringthe platform and the driver looking out. I waved at him and jumped right in front of him on the tracks. The engine driver had no time to put on the brakes. When he eventually did so the train jolted to a halt almost halfway to the platform. Everyone who was looking for the train saw. There was a huge crowd, as the train pulled back on the tracks, to look at the dead body. But alas! There wasn't to be any. For I had died a month or so ago. It was only my apparition that jumped in front of their eyes on the tracks. I just came for some moments into the world's quasi-diensions. The spiritual world of real dimensions I think I am digressing from my original story. Anyway my writer friend will iron it out, I think, if indeed he makes the story public.

Yes, I am writing this story sitting at the desk of my writer friendin his writing pad. I realised that these incidents will be of interest to the other world, I mean the so-called real world, as soon as I saw my writer friend in the station today. Since I was a student of science I have no writing skill and this writer friend of mine will polish my documentation of incidents and present them to the world that if he wishes to and finds any merit in them. Now back to the story.

The incident took place a couple of months ago. The girl was my first potential suicide victim whom I saved. (I must clarify that I am not a suicide case. It was during the time of World Cup when large crowds gathered under various television sets on that very platform and I was one in the crowd. The whistle of a coming train dispersed the crowdin such a way that I was elbowed on the tracks and that was it.) When the train moved back leaving the tracks vacant all the people were dumb-founded. But in the eyes of the girlthere was shock. I knew she would never ever dream of commiting such an act again. After that incident I saved many other potential self-murderers. I became the signalling ghost. But let me finish my first story first. I didn't leave the girl at that. I was determined to find the cause of her suicidal urge. And here the real story begins. The story of my first victim the young and pretty girl's father and tutor.

ShhUh! Oh! Someone is coming.

Look behind.

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