Of Mice and Men

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This article has been submitted by Sharanya Mukherjee for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

I saw him at the ticket counter. He was standing in front of me in the queue for purchasing tickets for the local train. The man at the ticket counter who was tired of giving out changes since morning looked up in surprise as that man handed the exact amount and asked for a ticket to Garia.I lost sight of him as he limped towards the railway platform and I continued to wait for my turn for the ticket.

Once I had my ticket,I made my way through the crowd and boarded the train with much difficulty. I took my seat and was waiting impatiently for the train to start. That is when I saw that man for the second time.Among thousands of people present on the railway platform, I do not know why he drew my attention each time. Not that he was physically attractive, but he had an aura about him which made me want to go and speak to him.

“You were standing one in front of me in the queue for the ticket counter, weren’t you?” Before I could answer the man went on “You know I bought my ticket and headed towards the platform. As I was loitering there, you know what I saw?” I did not attempt to answer, as by now I had understood that he did not need an audience to speak. “I saw a tiny mouse running up and down the tracks. It was nibbling at the litter lying on the side of the tracks. I was enjoying seeing its animation. Suddenly I heard the whistle blow and looked up to find that the train was approaching. People were happily walking towards the train as their long wait was finally over and they would reach their destinations in a short time. But I was worrying about that mouse on the track. I tried to shoo it away. But that stupid little creature did not pay any attention. It seemed to be absolutely oblivious of the impending doom. When it finally realised what was about to happen, it was too late. It tried to crawl up to the platform but failed each time. The next moment all I knew was that the train had arrived and people were running past me to board the train. How could that tiny creature tolerate all that force of the huge train? Life is such a difficult taskmaster you see. It treats each one of us like this, kills us in the same manner”. Saying this last sentence he shouted out so loudly that rest of the passengers stared at us in surprise. I looked out from the window as the train came to a stop. I felt claustrophobic recalling whatever the man had said. Two more stations before I would reach home. I felt relieved to realise that I had to tolerate this man and his weird stories for a few minutes only. All of a sudden, there was a loud thud and I saw the man lying on the floor of the train, gasping for breath. “Water..water..please give me some water” he groaned. The train usually waited in that station for not more than a minute and I did not want to get down in an unknown station. No one was coming forward to help. Seeing his condition I got off the train without thinking. I ran up to the nearest store and asked for a bottle of water. Just as I paid and was about to run back for the train, I heard a deafening noise from behind and as I turned back a blast of hot air burnt my face and I fell unconscious.

When I regained consciousness and even before I could speak, a serious looking policeman came up to me and said “How are you feeling now? There has been a bomb blast on the train. Though we have not been able to trace the culprits, the suspicious activities of a man have been recorded in the surveillance camera and investigations are on. He was wandering about very close to the railway tracks observing something closely there. The person in charge of selling tickets says he remembers him very well. He is being questioned for evidence. Ma’am, do you recall anything specifically related to this which might help us in our investigation?”

My mind was blank and I could hardly answer any of his questions. One question kept on lingering in my mind and no matter how hard I tried I failed each time trying to find an answer to this question….”Why did the killer himself choose to save me?Life…tracks…mouse…?”

5 COMMENTS

  1. an interesting read . it grasped my attention to read further and in the end seemed like a typical novelic end . u cn actually start writing short stories.:)

  2. Wait… Although the story is remarkably good but I don’t understand, Why would you name this after John Steinbeck’s Novella?

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