ArTales-17

The Train Journey 3.41/5 (11)

My book, ‘The Psychopath,’ had been selected as the best among foreign authors. I was to be honored at a function in New Delhi on Republic day of India when the likes of award like the Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan etc; were bestowed upon eminent personalities in different fields.  This made me feel ecstatic.

Almost all my books were centered on the life of a Psychopath named Dr. Gabriel North.  This award winning book, ‘The Mental Trauma,’ depicted how the psychopath became a serial killer under adverse conditions. A renowned public figure with a medical degree; he was never in the realm of suspicion whenever a murder was committed anywhere in the vicinity. Those who perished were all boys in the age group of twenty to twenty five. One was found lying dead in the railway track. Yet another was found hanging by a rope from a ceiling fan. A twenty two year old drowned in the swimming pool. 

Depression from not having been able to withstand peer pressure was cited as the reason in letters left by the deceased. However a newly appointed cop begins to grow suspicious about the nature of the boys’ death and starts analyzing every case. He gets to know that all of them had either gone to the Psychopath doctor for some treatment or had accompanied a friend to the clinic.

The case is cracked when the Psychopath finally reveals that he had been constantly tortured; physically and mentally by a twenty four year old neighborhood bully along with some accomplices.  That had driven him to hate all boys in that age group. The bully had eventually moved out of his neighborhood and the guy had actually forgotten everything about his tormentor and gone ahead to achieve a medical degree, but one fine morning while he was driving to the clinic he chanced to see the same boy who was now a man with a huge terrorizing moustache. Though the bully did not seemed to have recognized him, the trauma of having suffered under his persecution surfaced with fresh resentment and that was when he inadvertently turned a serial killer.

This was my first visit to India and I had decided to make the most of my trip. The versatility about the city of Mumbai had been enchanting me since quite a few years. A visit to that city therefore had become indispensable. Also I had been contemplating on taking a train ride while in India to have a feel of it.

After spending a couple of days at Delhi subsequent to the award function, I took a train to Mumbai.

I expected three more passengers to travel along with me in the four seater coupe. However there were four more, a couple accompanied by a kid, who being hardly three, probably did not need a berth of his own and then there was another lone passenger.

Though it may sound pretty rude, but here I have to admit my abhorrence to kids. All kids are trouble mongers, was my contention. I still vividly remember how a kid came running to me while I was having dinner at a get together. Apparently I resembled one of his benevolent uncles who bought lot of toys for me. Mistaking me for him, he literally attempted to climb over me, spilling the soup I was relishing. It took a better part of an hour to clean my dress. 

I expected some similar trouble from this brat also. He had a mischievous look and was constantly on the move, Clambering up and coming back in a jiffy. 

I tried putting up a stifled look assuming that might discourage him from approaching me but it had no effect on him whatsoever. He started thumping on my lap like it was some piano and he was composing some music. 

The parents showed no sign of getting perturbed at all with the various gimmicks of their ward. On the contrary the mother kept smiling as if the kid was accomplishing some rare feat. The father seemed to be a very sober man. No smile on his permanently frowning face. 

I could realize that the other passenger had some kind of affinity towards kids because he meticulously opened his bag pack and removed some savories. He offered it to the kid, who gobbled it in a matter of two minutes and began pestering him for more.

The Sober man kept to himself while the wife profusely thanked the benevolent guy who had so generously distributed his packet of savories.

The man then steered the packet towards me as a gesture of comradeship. Though I wasn’t very sure what it was, I took some sticking to civility norms.

He tried to drag me into a conversation, now being almost sure that trying to initiate one with the kid’s father would only meet with disappointment. That abstemious guy was never going to respond to pleasantries. 

“I am Doctor Arvind,” he brought forward his hand for a golden handshake. I was bewildered when the father of the kid, who had all this while been sitting like he was deaf and dumb, jumped from his seat on hearing this.  “You are a doctor, you mean medical doctor?” he almost blurted.

“I am a doctor too; an orthopedic, Dr. Steven Braganza,” he grinned for the first time bubbling with excitement.

Both were medical practitioners in New Delhi, but from different fields.  They got along like a house on fire and I was totally side tracked. The conversation kept revolving around hospitals, surgeons and modern technology of treatment etc etc;  

The kid whom I had loathed seemed to be the only person concerned about a poor creature like me. He continued playing the piano on my lap at regular intervals while the mother was too engrossed listening to both the doctors talking. She also gave some inputs in between and later my doubt that she too was involved with the medical field was confirmed. Apparently she was the matron of the orthopedic department in the hospital where her husband worked. 

‘Wonder why this vivacious woman fell for this reticent chap?’ I shook my head in disbelief. ‘Marriages are made in Heaven,’ I concluded.

However I was amused to note that the psychopath of my book was a doctor and here there were two of them in the same profession. ‘What a coincidence?’ I smiled.

In a while it dawned on Dr. Arvind that it was very unethical to have totally ignored me though Dr.Braganza never felt any self reproach on that issue. He started to look away through the glass window while Dr Arvind spoke to me. 

“So you seem to be from a foreign country. What has brought you to India?”

Seizing this opportunity that I was eagerly waiting for I informed him that I came from the US and that I was author Samuel Clooney. My books centering the life of a Psychopath; were famous.

  I flaunted my award that was bestowed on me in India for my latest book.   Briefing him about my work on a serial killer, I explained to him that a medical professional Dr Gabriel North; a fictitious character created by me was the psychopath in my books. 

Even though he was a Doctor, he took it in light spirit but it was evident Dr. Braganza was upset. 

“Why on earth would you want to assassinate the character of a medical professional?” he frowned.

 “Come on Doctor, he is a writer and most of his work is on apparition. It would have been easy to portray a doctor as the serial killer for only a person involved in medical profession would know how to tactfully camouflage a murder and pass it as suicide.” Dr Arvind Kumar came to my rescue though Dr Braganza did not look convinced even by an inch.

They had a brief argument over my book and then things seemed to settle amicably when the mother of the kid, Sophia, opened a box of sweets thereby keeping everyone’s mouth busy.

The kid literally spat a few pieces on me and I honestly wanted to spank him, but tried my best to refrain from doing anything detrimental. I was already in the eye of a storm for having called my centre character Dr North as a Psychopath and a serial killer.  I did not wish to invoke more displeasure from Dr.Braganza by starting a fresh act of animosity against his son. 

 “Are you travelling till Mumbai Central?” Dr. Arvind asked.

I shook my head simultaneously as I was trying to remove all the sweets spat by the kid, from my shirt. “My friend will come to pick me from Surat. By day after tomorrow I should be in Mumbai.”

“Surat is the station after the next, which is Vadodara,” he volunteered with the information about which I was already aware. Nevertheless I thanked him.

As the train left Vadodara the halt before Surat, Dr Arvind Kumar excused himself to visit the washroom. 

The brat found more place to jump about and suddenly went on a rampage pulling at all things available. The blankets, bed sheets and pillows were being thrown like some grenade. Even before his mother could bring the situation under control the boy had flung Dr. Arvind Kumar’s bag pack scattering it’s belonging on the floor.

I helped the mother to put the stuffs back in the bag while the dad tightly held the kid. Everything fell into place just as Dr. Arvind returned and took his seat. 

The distance from here to Surat was nearly 130kms and it would take a good hour and a little more to reach. All of a sudden I was more than eager to reach Surat.

“Someone else may take this seat of yours probably till Mumbai,” Dr Arvind said when I returned after visiting the washroom.  “Generally some business guys travel this distance every week at least once. The trains never go empty.” He seemed to be having a thorough knowledge of trains and passengers. 

I got up as we were nearing Surat. The kid had fortunately gone to sleep. His father genuinely did not think it was very important to at least give a parting smile. The mother slightly smiled and nodded. On my behest Dr. Arvind came with me to the exit door to see me off. 

“Has your friend come to pick you?” he asked visually scouring the station as if he would recognize my friend.

I requested him to give me company till my friend arrived as there were ten more minutes for the train to depart. When the engine siren honked, Dr. Arvind took my leave and got in. My friend was not to be seen.

I too got in and closely followed Dr Arvind and took my seat again.  “Hey how come you are back? And you can’t take this seat; someone else may have been allotted the place. More over you must have paid only up to Surat right? The Ticket checker may come now and take offense to this.” Dr. Arvind could not conceal his vexation. 

With a wave of my hand I brushed aside his apprehension.
He was about to say something in thorough retaliation when the train screeched and came to a sudden halt. 

There was some commotion as people tried to find out why the train had stopped with a sudden screech.

There were different theories, “Someone must have pulled the chain.” 

Yet another theory proposed a brake failure.

While theories were being propagated, a few cops entered the train and came to our coupe. “Dr. Arvind?” they looked around while I pointed to the doctor. They held him and hand cuffed him.

“What on earth is happening here? I am a renowned pediatrician and you are taking me into custody for what offense?”

“Everything will be explained to you in detail,” they said taking him away. I also handed over a diary to them. 

 “Will let you know what the issue is, give me your contact details,” I said looking at Dr. Braganza, before I got down with my friend.

After obtaining the number from a stunned and confused couple, I softly patted the sleeping kid on his cheek and left. If not for him I would not have encountered a serial killer today, one similar to my centre character Dr North. A murder would have been committed.

When the kid had toppled Dr. Arvind’s bag pack, a diary, which I handed over to the cop now, had fallen underneath my seat. It aroused my inquisitiveness as the page that stood open read as, ‘my next plan.’

Concealing it under my shirt, I went to the washroom. The contents of the diary revealed the truth that Dr. Arvind was a serial killer who targeted male medical professionals who were married to girls from within the same profession or something linked to it, for instance a nurse like Sophia. He went on this rampage for the simple reason that a girl who worked at the pathology laboratory in a hospital had ditched him for another doctor working in the same hospital.

He had mentioned about five of his previous murders and now his sixth victim was Dr Braganza.

He had spotted this couple at a function in New Delhi and meticulously planned the murder. Knowing that they were travelling to Mumbai on a short vacation in a first class coupe, he engaged the same travel agent who was booking their tickets and asked for a seat in the same coupe.

He had however over looked upon the fact that the kid was below age for a separate ticket and realized that as planned by him he won’t be the only passenger with them. There would be one more person. That was me. He later gathered information about me and learnt that I was going to alight at Surat.

He purchased that ticket in a different name from Surat to Mumbai, so that only he and the couple with the kid would then be seated in the coupe. Seizing an apt opportunity he would lock the door and carry out his murder plan.

His plot was jotted in the diary. His evil intentions being exposed to me, I had immediately contacted my friend who was to receive me at Surat and asked him to fetch the railway cops.  However there was bit of time lag and the train left. I had to somehow get back to the seat before Dr Arvind could swing into action. 

Thankfully by the time he expressed his displeasure on my having returned; the cops had intimated the engine driver to stop the train. 

I had not only saved the life of a doctor but had been instrumental in handing over a serial killer to the cops. 

The most thrilling part of the whole adventure was that I had encountered my central character Dr. Gabriel North in person; in the form of Dr. Arvind.

***

==>This is a guest entry for Artales-17, #DrNorth, an ArtoonsInn writing event.

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Categories: ArTales-17, DrNorth