In The Blink Of An Eye

Everyone likes a twist in the tale. Read on to find out this one. Hope you like it!

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1. The Story

     The railway station at Lanjigad was a lonely place. Surrounded by thick forest full of wild animals. Many species of these animals were carnivorous like Panthers, Leopards and even the Royal Bengal Tiger. Even then it was an oasis in the desert for the people of Lanjigad. The only symbol for them that the Government existed. The local MLA had constructed the station for the people to provide them with an alternative to Dada Gorkhiya's private bus transport system to the city. The MLA had recognized Dada's bus system as an affordable system of transit to the city. Thus he didn't intend on starting a bus system in the area again. Instead, to show the people a sign of development in the village he had constructed this railway station. But clearly this was only a show and the main purpose behind it was the MLA's interest in the funds allocated by the government for this project. The station was thus in a dilapidated condition and in a desolate area about 2 km from the village. The traffic of trains was also minimal. A freight train would stop by once a week to deliver necessary goods and mail for the village. Many people of the village would board this train after it had delivered its contents to go to the city. Especially if they had to go for a number of days at a stretch and didn't have any constraints on the time of their departure. This would save their money and thus provide a cheap alternative to Dada's bus system. The people would plan their visits according to the time of the train. The people travelling in buses had started taking the train. The station itself consisted of only a single platform with nothing except a few necessities of a station. These included an overhead water tank, a shed which covered the entire platform, a stationmaster's cabin which mainly remained empty as the stationmaster was also a farmer and for the better part of his life would be engaged in the farming. He would be present only when the train arrived and left. The unloading of the train would also be carried out in his absence. Another item on the station was the railway clock. The standard hanging type with a large font so that everyone could read it. There was nothing fancy of any sort. The clock was however in a very poor condition covered with dust and spider webs. The glass covering it had also shattered and the clock was so vulnerable to change that anyone could easily climb on the pillar base below it and change the time by moving the hands. A bench also marked the platform. The only sitting place on the entire station apart from the base of the pillar below the clock. All other pillars were not constructed with such bases. A tea vendor would earn a trifle on the platform when the freight train would arrive. Such was the railway station of Lanjigad.  

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  The month was November and it was the time of festivities. Diwali was fast approaching and the mood in the village was jolly. Suresh was also a part of this celebration. He was just a young boy about the age of a college student but due to family constraints and like all other youngsters in the village he had taken to farming on his family's land. He was also quite social in the village who would share even the smallest of his experiences with everyone in the village. Suresh was waiting on the railway station for the freight. He wanted to visit the city to buy festival goodies for himself and his family. There was no one on the platform this particular weekend. It wasn't odd as everyone was busy in their own homes preparing for the coming festival. Suresh was actually late for this visit as all the others had been to the city in the past few weeks. As it was high time he had decided to make this visit this week. He waited on the railway station for the train. He was an hour early on the station before the arrival of the train because on that day the railway system had encountered a problem as was the case with every week. He didn't know of this and neither did the tea vendor but as the train had not arrived on time it was a common assumption which was true in most cases. Having nothing to do, Suresh decided to sip a cup of tea. So he ordered one from the tea vendor. When he was savouring the refreshing drink in this desolate landscape a man covered in a blanket arrived on the station and sat on the base of the pillar below the clock. He wore a white kurta which was untidy. His hair was also unkempt and his eyes were bloodshot. Suresh had never seen him before but he took him as a visitor in the village and thus glancing at him once he looked away enjoying his tea. As he had almost finished his tea he glanced at the clock to check the time. It was 10.20 . His eyes drifted to the man below the clock. Noticing nothing of interest he blinked and as he was about to look away he got the shock of his life. The man had suddenly disappeared in the blink of an eye. Suresh was extremely scared and in his shock he turned to look at the tea vendor whether he had seen what he had seen. The tea vendor was busy making tea so Suresh went and asked him, “Did you see where that man went?” and pointed to the base of the pillar. The tea vendor was equally shocked to see that the man had disappeared without him noticing it. Both of them ran from the station for their lives and scared as hell.  

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The news spread like wildfire in the village because after all it came from the talkitive Suresh. The news was that Suresh and the tea vendor had spotted a ghost at the railway station. The people of the village would have ignored the tale if it had only come from Suresh. He had a habit of making up things. But they believed it this time because it was confirmed by the tea vendor Kalpesh who unlike Suresh did not speak much and was trusted by the villagers to tell the truth. All sorts of varied possibilities had started to spring up as to whose spirit haunted the station and why this had happened. The elderly people started having discussions over it. Theories were built that once a worker from the freight train had died on the platform because of being forced to overwork. So it must be the spirit of that person who wanted to take vengeance on the railway system and thus didn't want anyone to use it. Another theory was that a demon spirit from the forest had been agitated by the commotion that was created by the railway station in its territory. Whatever be the theory one believed in, no one used the railway station any more. Especially for commuting to the city. The people stopped going to the railway station. It was considered a taboo to even pass by it. The story had had such an impact on the villagers. They were all scared. The old bus system was preferred by everyone for transport. Thus Dada was happy again. The loss in business which he had suffered due to the railway system was finally being covered. But apart from him two other people were happy. Two unrelated people. Alongwith Dada they smiled at the leaving bus. One was the tea vendor and the other a performer in the city. The tea vendor had spiked a drink and the performer had been a ghost. They had then positioned the unconcious Suresh to make him feel that he had blinked. All this after taking money from Dada.  

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