07 January 2008

A Train Ride

It was seven o? clock in the morning. There was a light shower, which seemed to cleanse Dallas Railway Station, leaving the passengers feeling fresh.

Near the platform, in a local pharmacy, a young teenager was looking at a bottle, which he was clutching. The lad seemed to be about to make a crucial decision. After looking at the bottle for a while, he finally paid the shopkeeper. He quietly slipped the bottle into his knapsack just as a train was floating into the station.

The passengers clamored to get into the train, and the youngster managed to wriggle his way into an empty compartment. He threw his knapsack on a seat and sat next to the window. He was staring out of the window, when the compartment door opened and a man along with his son, got in. The youngster eyed the man with suspicion. The newcomer was rather short, looking typical in plain shirt and pants, stroking his beard with delight. His son was about 6 or 7 years, the youngster judged, and seemed rather a bit old to be playing with toy cars.

The train began to move out of the station and it was a full minute before the man began the conversation. ?What?s your good name, my son?? he asked.

?Norman? the youngster answered coldly.

?I am Ahmed, and this, is my very own Ali!? Ahmed beamed with happiness and pride. Norman looked at the boy and then stared out of the window. He wasn?t in the mood for conversation.

Norman was a rather unusual boy. He was never moody and quite like this before. But all of a sudden, he was lost in thought, contemplating something.

Ahmed restarted the conversation ?You know Ali is now in 2nd standard. Yes, he passed the 1st standard. How much did you get Ali?? Ali stopped playing for a moment and answered, ?I got 58%?.

?Yes, 58%! The teachers were very proud of him. He did much better than they expected!?.

Norman, who was trying to keep the conversation at a minimum, couldn?t help but wonder why Ahmed was so delighted. According to him, 58% was horrible for a 1st grader, even by a failure?s standards.

?I?m sorry, but didn?t you say that Ali was in 2nd standard??

The smile on Ahmed?s face vanished. He looked sad and depressed all of a sudden. ?Ali, could you go out and play with your new friend, Vickie? I am sure that his mother will allow you two to play,? he asked. Ali stopped playing and said proudly, ?Vickie is my new best friend!? There was an innocent gleam in his eyes.
?Well, you must be wondering why I am on cloud nine when Ali passed 1st grade. To explain the reason, I have to give you a bit of history. You see, seven years ago, Ali?s mother gave birth to him. But, something went wrong in the delivery room, and the doctor told me that some severe damage had been done to Ali?s brains. According to him, this would severely impair his I.Q. Well, at that time, that wasn?t the worst thing. My wife, Fatima, died during the delivery. I never clearly understood the reason why.

It was the greatest tragedy of my life. My wife had passed away, and my son was retarded. For a while, I was too shocked to do anything. Then, God Almighty blessed me with courage and faith. I raised him, and enrolled him in the local nursery. It was tough to teach him. He understood things four times slower than others did. When he reached 1st grade, it was horrible. He spent the whole day at school, and the whole night at home, studying. I would sit and teach him, while his friends would enjoy cricket outside.? Ahmed?s voice began to quaver. ?I remember a time when I was teaching him the alphabets. It was 10 in the night, and I fell asleep on the table. The next day, I heard him say the alphabets perfectly. He had spent the whole night, learning just 26 alphabets?without sleep?I?I...? Suddenly, Ahmed?s eyes swelled with tears, and he was no more able to control the tears. He burst out crying. ?He, he could not understand what his teachers were saying. Yet he spent six hours every day, studying without an ounce of entertainment. He never grudged it, nor did he complain. He only studied and said his prayers. For him, school was the only thing in life. Poor Soul!?

Norman looked dazed as he stared out of the window. He couldn?t think of anything to Ahmed, nothing to console him about. Norman felt lost in his emotions.

??. (Sob)? (Sob)?you know, sometimes I think that Ali is blessed. Whenever I read the news or see the papers?.I really feel that Ali is lucky!? Ahmed said.

Norman could not understand what Mubarak was saying all of a sudden. ?What do you mean sir?? he asked respectfully.

?Oh, I?ll tell you. Don?t you read the papers? How many children are wasting their lives because of their exam results? Suicides committed in the millions due to 3-hour exams. Souls are wasted! And when I read all this, I feel that Ali is blessed. Do you know why? Because God was kind enough to make him a retard. I tell you that was God?s way of protecting Ali from committing suicide. Every time I see Ali puzzling over something, I praise God for not allowing my only son to tie ropes and buy poisons. He is truly blessed.

Norman was quite and tears were streaming down his face. He quickly wiped them and stood up. It was his stop. He grabbed his bag, and after saying a quick word of farewell to the weeping Ahmed, walked out of the train station. Just as he was getting down, he saw Ali playing with Vickie. Ali was trying to fit three pieces of a simple jigsaw puzzle together. Something that Vickie had completed ages ago, and was now looking bored. But Ali was stumbling over what to do. He repeatedly tried to fit the three pieces together.

?He will never stop,? Norman thought, ?He will keep at it till he gets it!?

Norman came out of the station and was standing near the road. The train hadn?t started moving yet. He put his hand into his knapsack and pulled out a bottle. Without even having a second thought, he tossed it into the drains nearby.

As he walked, a paper fluttered out of his knapsack. Anyone passing nearby would have managed to see it. On it was written:

Name: Norman Mueller
Marks (total): 162.5

In the drains, the bottle lay, pushed forward by gushing water. On its label was the title: POTASSIUM CYNADIE


Norman was now walking with a reassuring smile. He no longer had that plan in mind. He was thankful that he had met his angel.

In the train station, just as the bottle of poison was broken open by the gushing water, and all its contents destroyed, the train began to pick speed. Inside the train, Ahmed was smiling with joy as he saw the last glimpses of a troubled soul, walking with a knapsack. And besides him, was an angel. Ali had finally managed to put the three pieces together.

There was a triumphant smile on his face!


  1. not the best of what you've written man....i could guess what was the story would be as soon as i read the first 2-3 lines.
    and from where did mr.'mubarak' come into the scene midway through?!
    this is like a koi mil gaya type story...!

  2. i see some flaws with your story...

    if you are talking about the Dallas in Texas then you should change your verbage to Grade and not standard...

    Plus Dallas is not big on trains in most cases...the city could have been Ny or chicago for more of a cosmo crowd...or even DC.


  3. @ART: Yup, well, this story was written a while ago, when I thought the only way to write stories was if I placed then in a western city.

    I wouldnt know anything about Dallas!

    Still, thanks for the corrections! If ever I'm going to rewrite the story, I'll make sure I correct the flaws.

    P.S. Would love to know how you came across my blog.

  4. Hey,

    I know this because I live in Dallas :) So if you ever want to write a story based on D...let me know...can help :)

    I came across ur website through the indi blog website.