Rakesh had killed many times. He had no remorse. His job required him not to have any. But this time he was going to plan it.
Anita, his wife of 20 years had been lying to him. He had seen her with him. Things hadn’t been the same since their only daughter moved to a boarding school two years ago. There was no one to take care of her here and they had no choice but to send her off to a distance place to be raised with better values than the ones already running in her veins.
Anita used to be his strength and now was his weakness. He had confronted her about the man she had been seeing. She told him that they were just friends. Friends didn’t walk with hands entwined. She promised she wouldn’t meet him but here she was again, crossing the railways tracks with him, in broad daylight without a care in the world. She was mocking him on his turf.
Rakesh knew that she always took the morning local at 6.00am to go to Andheri, the place she worked. For that she had to leave early from her house and cross the tracks, even though there was a foot over bridge just five minutes away. He had repeatedly warned her not to cross tracks in the morning as there was low visibility, but she had paid no heed.
Rakesh had been following her every day for the last month. He calculated and recalculated the time that she crossed the tracks, every delay taken into account. He checked and rechecked the times of the trains that passed. She always used to wear headphones listening to the morning arti (hymns) on radio while walking. He waited for the roster to change for him to get the morning shift. Today was that day.
It was a cold January morning. He had bought her a dark brown sari the night before. It was their 21st anniversary. She had smiled and accepted it and said that she would wear it the next day to work. He went to work early. Before leaving he watched her sleep and tried to capture the moment as this could be the last day he was seeing her. He left without a sound, signed the muster at the office and started his work. He had to finish some paperwork from the day before; he wrapped that up quickly and took his seat in the train.
He didn’t want to raise any suspicion in case there was an investigation. It would be hard, not impossible though to convince the cops, if he was the driver of the ill-fated train. He could see the headlines in the newspapers “Railway driver kills his own”. Most would dismiss it as destiny or a case of bad luck.
Rakesh took his seat as the guard at the back of the train and signaled to the driver Kunal in front that he was ready. The train started crossing stations. Soon it was his station, where he lived. He knew he could delay the train to the exact moment. He called Anita. She was on her way. The train approached his station and halted. Before the train departed, he had to delay the train. He radioed Kunal ahead that he wasn’t feeling too well and just wanted to get a lemon juice from the railway stalls. He quickly disembarked and went to the stall and wasted three minutes. He looked at his watch. It was time. He ran quickly and signaled again to Kunal to start the train. As the train approached the tracks, he could see only two or four people trying to run across. And then he saw her in the distance. She had her headphones on so she couldn’t hear the train, something he had warned her against. She made her way towards the tracks, crossing one track at a time and finally to the one he presumed she would be on. Since the track had a turn, he couldn’t see if she had reached the track his train was on but he heard Kunal blow the horn and he knew that it must have been to signal whoever was crossing, to get out of the way. His compartment approached the curve and his radio beeped and Kunal said. “Some idiotic people are still trying to cross the tracks so early in the morning, I just missed someone” As the radio stopped crackling, he looked towards the tracks behind and saw Anita and she saw Rakesh. Besides her was a stranger who had just pulled her back in time.
She was saved and now Rakesh felt remorse.