Death on Karnataka Express

Death on Karnataka Express

The sudden jerk of the train coming to a halt shook me out of slumber. I was sleeping on the middle berth of a three-tier AC coach. I moved the pungent smelling inflexible curtain and tried to peep through the window. The sun was yet to rise but the morning blue had taken over the milieus. It looked like the train was moving through the outskirts of a city. I got my wristwatch out of my backpack and checked the time. It was 6:30 am.

We were travelling in Karnataka express from Bangalore to New Delhi. My initial job training got over in Mysore and I got posting in Chandigarh. Mom was paying a visit to my sister in Bangalore and hence was accompanying me back till Chandigarh.

The last time I checked in the night, when we reached Bhopal, the train was running on its scheduled time.

I thought, ‘we must be approaching Agra by this time.’

I slid to my left and looked down at the lower berth. Mom was still sleeping peacefully. A sensation urged me to use the washroom. I slowly got down in a crouching position, making sure not to wake her up, slipped into my slippers and walked through the narrow passage towards the washroom.

Death on Karnataka Express

After using the washroom, I decided to look outside the entrance door of the coach, since the train hadn’t yet moved. There is no more serene sight than countryside right up early in the morning. I leaped outside the gate but there was no one in sight. ‘Probably most of the people are still sleeping’, I supposed. ‘It was a good four hours still left for us to reach New Delhi, if the train reached at its timetabled arrival time.’

The huge iron wheels slowly started moving making a screeching sound. I shut the door and walked back to my berth. The berth opposite to mom’s berth was empty.

‘The elderly man would have got down at a station somewhat late in the night, as I was pretty much awake past midnight’, I pondered.

Five more minutes passed by and the train gathered momentum. The rural dwellings in the landscape were being replaced by more urban infrastructure. I knew that the railway station was about to arrive and considered having a cup of tea and some biscuits. Mom usually is an early riser and it was way past her regular wake up time. ‘

‘I guess she wouldn’t have an idea what time it is’, I assumed.

She didn’t prefer tea prepared at stations but I, nevertheless, thought of asking her before the station arrives. I feebly called out, “MOM.”

“Mom…Mom…MOM”, I kept calling gradually increasing the pitch of my voice. She didn’t respond leave alone waking up.

I touched her feet to wake her up but she didn’t respond this time either. I started shaking her arm slightly and simultaneously calling out ‘mom…mom…mom.’ It felt as if she was intentionally not waking up.

I touched her forehead. It was damp and cold. Initially I thought that the air-conditioning might have done it. Her cheeks were even icier. I didn’t know what had happened to her. I kept shaking her arm and calling her for more than two minutes but she didn’t budge a single bit.

I was beginning to get worried. I didn’t know what to do. I could see the train slowly entering the station through the window and thought of trying to wake her up one more time.

She didn’t respond.

By now the glitter of sweat was shining on my forehead. I was getting more and more nervous and anxious as time passed. Somehow in these sorts of situations, negative thoughts are the first ones to swarm your mind.

They didn’t spare me either and for a second I thought, ‘Is Mom dead?’

The more I was trying to wake her up, the stronger the sinking feeling became. I knew I had to remain calm and try to think my way through, ‘what if she was actually dead.’

In my custom and tradition the first thing that happens is, as soon as you get to know that either of your parents or any blood relative has passed away, we aren’t supposed to eat anything till the final cremation rituals are performed.

I quelled my mind and focused on the difficult task at hand. I started deliberating, ‘should I get down at Agra or should I continue till New Delhi and seek some help there? Should I call someone right away?’ Should I seek some medical help in the train itself?

My heart was breaking in fact shattering.

I knew it was going to be a long…really long day ahead. The thought of not eating anything for the next two days was already eating my mind. I decided to get down to at least have a cup of tea and couple of cookies. The train was about to move and I had to act fast.

I immediately got down and went to a railway tea stall. The vendor was selling some stale tea but there wasn’t any other option in sight. I decided since I might not get anything else; let me purchase two cups of tea. I purchased a packet of biscuits and put it in my jeans’ rear pocket. I thought of having one cup right away but that same screeching sound of the iron wheels started.

I hurriedly reached the metal door and a fellow passenger helped me board the train again.

I was making my way through few people who were beginning to wake up, making sure I don’t spill any of it.

The eerie feeling of having tea right next to my dead mom also came over me for a second but the contemplation of being hungry for the next two days made a starving sensation in me and I thought, ‘what the hell! Let me have it. There wasn’t anyone who knew me or would complain that I had tea and cookies after mom passed away.’

As soon as I reached my berth, I was dumbfounded and speechless by what I saw.

Mom was wide-awake sitting upright and combing her hair. She annoyingly looked at me and began, ‘how many times have I told you not to get down on every station. What happened to you is everything all right? Why do you look so astonished?’

I handed her a cup of tea interrupting her and sheepishly said, “I got down to bring you some tea and biscuits.”

“In all these years have you ever seen me have this railway station tea?” she added.

I knew it was embarrassingly awkward what had conspired into my head and decided to tell her the ordeal of buying two cups of tea.

She broke into a loud uncontrollable laughter. I joined in. I told her that the first thought that came to my mind after seeing my mom dead, was to have tea and biscuit.

We kept on laughing till we reached New Delhi.

To this day, whenever we discuss a train journey, we roll in fits of laughter remembering this episode.

For all those who love their moms,

For all those who have lost loved ones,

For all those who are fed up of such rituals,

For all those who love trains,

And

For all those who love humour…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker

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204 thoughts on “Death on Karnataka Express

  1. A thread of satirical humour runs through this piece. I can identify with the scared about not eating part. I can’t stay hungry ever, and thought I might have frozen on the spot than run for tea, I do understand the protagonist’s dilemma.

    Namratha from #firstgreenstep

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sanjota..thanks for dropping by and reading.

      I feel humour is the only thread that can bring light in the darkest of times.
      Rest I can completely understand if you dont approve of it.
      Keep visiting…Keep reading…Keep commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Humour is something we all need in our daily life. I loved the way you narrated it and the ending too. The very fact that we are bound by rituals and the rules that we must follow at certain times while throwing practical thoughts to caution is something that needs to change. The way your protagonist finally made up his mind is fabulous. That is what we need to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are all bound by our speculations like this especially when it comes to our loved ones. I read this narration as an anecdote that you shared, but reading the comments, now, I am confused. Is this a piece of fiction???

    Liked by 1 person

  4. From your title, I had assumed your mother (no offence) had passed away and the passenger next to your birth was responsible. I was getting angry why you thought eating biscuit was more important that dealing with your mother’s body. Then you sprung surprise that mother was alive. Nice twist.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bwahahhaa. When I first saw the title, I thought this was going to be a murder mystery. Thank god all ended well. Your mom must be a super sport!

    Like

  6. In the middle the thoughts sounded harsh you know. But I loved the end. And then again our stomachs start growling whenever it needs replenishment. Does not make a difference what other circumstances may be prevailing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. From the title of your post, I deducted it must be our own ‘desi’ “Murder On The Orient Express”. But the twist-at-end turned out to be more surprising and wittier. Keep dishing out such humorous stuff. Did it really happen btw? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hats off to you because I can’t imagine this even in the wildest of my dreams. Its not easy to joke about such a serious issue but you have pulled it fantastically. Loved the narration and the backdrop. Do you have a similar sense of humour in real life too? If yes, then you are one lucky man! Interesting read. Will read more from your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Initially when I read the title, the first picture that came in my mind was Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express..:-) you did a the magic with your words. Truly humorly suspense cleverly weaved in words.
    #Myfriendalexa #MothersGurukulreads

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Whether it’s a fiction or real incidence , you have succeeded in depicting raw , honest & that’s why believable emotions till the very end. Death on Karnatak express packs the punch in bluntness . #MyFriendAlexa #SujatawdeReads

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Couldn’t fathom how a son could think of having food even as he thought his mother to be dead! But I believe that was the best part in the whole story. I had a hearty laugh after reading the end. Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ‘For those who are fed up of such rituals’ – the phrase I liked the most! A went through a lot of emotions reading your post… To simply put it I simply loved it 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This is a fantastic story, Manas!

    The twist is great but more than that is the narration and the ability to pull off a joke in such a serious situation. And frankly, it does not feel awkward or wierd even one bit.

    Oh, the accompanying photo is lovely too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Adi for liking the story. A bigger thanks for the heartfelt wishes..really need them… You too have a great time at Alexa. Every dog has its day…I can say mine was today 🙂

      Like

  14. Honestly, I thought you were being paranoid and did expect your Mom to be hale and hearty. The real funny part was getting down stale tea too just to avoid going hungry for two days. Are you a foodie?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Honestly, you have shaken and woke me up from my monotonous reading spree. It was a roller coaster of emotions, I felt sad reading the ‘what if dead mom’ angle, got angry on the chai and biscuits urge (which is very much humane) and laughed out with WTH thought in the end.
    It’s a nice read and your narration style Top it up so well.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This was hilarious. It is well written and at the same time it is the correct amont of humour. I loved the way you described the part where you felt hungry and I could totally imagine myself doing something similar in such a sitaution. Looking forward to more of your stories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Brilliant narrative! Just when my mind went towards how he would arrange for the funeral and the myriad memories he would narrate about his mom, you gave the story a FAB twist! hahaha…loved it totally!! Keep writing! Reading your work is a pleasure! #MayuraReads #MyFriendAlexa

    Liked by 1 person

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