17 December 2016


                                                                                  Pragati was a born late comer. Her mother used to tell his medical friends that ‘he was like this, since he arrived a week after expected date of delivery’. His friends knew it, his teachers, employer and neighbors all knew about his late coming habits. Pragati had a colleague named Pk, who was very much like him in ‘punctuality’. During marriage receptions and other functions if Pragati has already arrived  means, his friends would presume that they are late for the occasion. One thing good about them was that ‘tension’ was not in their dictionary.
                         There was an annual medical conference at Mumbai where Pragati and his senior colleague Pk, were to attend. Railway tickets and hotel booking were done quite in advance. A junior doctor named Sada was willing to drop them at the railway station. The train departure time was 21:15 hours at Rourkela. Sada first went to pick up Pk but he was not ready, had gone to toilet, his wife said and suggested Sada to pick up Pragati first.
                                                       Accordingly he went to Pragati’s house. Surprisingly he was ready. After Sada had driven his car for a few kilometers Pragati requested Sada to return back as he had forgotten the train tickets and ‘pan batua’. Some time was wasted that way, but there was plenty of time in hand as per Pragati, time was 20:20 hours. Remember there were neither mobile nor land phones with our main characters. It used to take twenty to twenty-five minutes to reach the railway station from the township.
                                                              In the mean while Pk was smoking and waiting near the gate. At last three of them proceeded for the railway station. ‘Three is not a good number to start a journey’ Pk muttered to self.
                                      Before entering the railway station there was one favorite tea shop of Pk and Pragati. The car stopped there. Sada was getting tensed up due to their callous attitude but did not utter a word as they were all very senior to him. After finishing their tea they took two packets of Wills Filter cigarette for the road.
‘Another fifteen minutes in hand.’ Pragati said.
“But that was the departure time, sir” Sada intervened.
They ran for their life with the luggage and entered the platform number one and watched the last ‘red light’ of the guard van of Bombay Express.

Sanjoy Kumar Satpathy

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