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Ekalavya

By Shashank Chepuri

The Devil was waiting to make his move. He was standing on a railway platform with the air of a hunter waiting for his prey to fall in his trap. As he waited patiently, he couldn’t help but think how much he wanted to quit the job. Lately, his job had become too predictable and boring. His performance in the recent times had reached the zenith, leaving all the competition behind. He really missed his dear friend, The Archangel. 

There were times long long ago when the Angels and Devils used to compete with each other. Those were the times when The Angels used to earn a well deserved victory. The Devil still dreaded the days when Ravana, the king of Devils, was slaughtered by Ram, who was called The Archangel. It was the most embarrassing defeat the devils had ever faced. Ever since, the Devils were trying hard to take revenge. Their attempts were never successful, until recently. 

Since the last couple of decades the battle had become one sided. Off late, there was no competition from the Angels. It was as if the Angels had gone into a deep slumber. They needed a wake-up call. The Devils had become too bored of victory. They needed competition. The Devil recalled his last and most talked about victory on 16th December 2012 wherein a 23-year-old female was beaten and gang raped in a bus in which she was travelling with her male companion. 

Where were the Angels then?’ 

The sound of the approaching train brought the Devil back to the present. He became aware of the surroundings. He scanned the people who flocked looking around the train for his next prey. 
An evil smile materialized on his lips when he found her. 

*** 

As the express train arrived at a station for its brief halt, passengers rushed out and into its already packed coaches. Gayathri, a 21-year old girl, just managed to get into a compartment. She was holding on an air bag, which served as her only luggage for her travel. She held the bag with her left hand and held on to a supporting rod with her right hand. As the train accelerated ahead, she suddenly got pushed by the crowd. She panicked and lost her grip, and she was thrown out of the speeding train. 

The bluster of the train muted the thud of her fall on to the ground more than a meter below. Gayathri shrieked with pain when her back met the ground. She was knocked senseless. 

A boy who was standing on the footboard in another compartment of the same train couldn’t believe what he had just seen—a young woman in a white Punjabi suit lying next to the tracks. Meanwhile, gasps and screams emanated from his compartment. 

The boy immediately raised an alarm by pulling the emergency chain frantically. The train screeched, and started decelerating. But it seemed to him as if the train was taking forever to stop. He couldn’t wait for it to halt.

The boy scanned the compartment hoping to find someone willing to help him in rescuing the girl. But nobody volunteered. Everyone was afraid of getting involved. All wanted to know what had happened; all were curious to catch a glimpse of bleeding body and unconscious mind; but no one wanted to come forward and help. All were inactive; all were weak. They could think, but could not feel. They could reason but could not empathize. They spoke in a language devoid of intent. All they cared was to catch their respective glimpses; to consume their daily dose of sheepish whispers and sterilized conspiracies.




The Devil feasted on the scene. The boy was alone. No one was willing to get out of their busy schedule and help the damsel in distress. Everything was going according to the Devil’s plan. 

Unaffected by the people’s response, the boy pushed his way towards the exit of the train. 

The boy took a deep breath and closed his eyes as he jumped off the train. His rubber slippers did little to protect his feet from the sharp edges of the rocks. A burst of pain shot up in his ankle as he landed on the ground. The pain, however, was not strong enough to weaken his vigour. He gasped for breath as he stood looking for the girl. 

He found the girl lying by the side of the tracks around 50 meters away. The rocks (which are usually found between the tracks) had greatly damaged her spine. Her hair lay intertwined with the rocks, which tried to invade her profusely bleeding scalp. The adulterated red streams irrigated the geometrical disparities on her face. Her right hand stretched diagonally towards the track with her thumb resting against her palm; curled like an infant flower bud afraid of daylight. Her left hand, with which she earlier held her luggage, was now smeared in blood. Her luggage lay 10 feet away from her, hidden in the shrubs. 

Gayathri was slipping into unconsciousness. As a child, she had always wondered what death would feel like. She knew she would experience it someday. 

It can’t be today. It can’t be now”, she prayed. 

‘Don’t worry, you will be fine’, the boy said. It was as if the Angels’ had answered her prayers through the boy. They were the last words she heard before blanking out. She hoped for hope and trusted the voice. 

The boy looked around. No help was in sight—they were alone somewhere between two stations. 

The Devil’s plan was immaculate. The boy alone could do nothing. Devil knew that he would have to give up eventually. 

But the boy had no intentions of giving up. He lifted the 50-kilo Gayathri cautiously and made his way across the tracks. He crossed through some shrubbery, and followed the direction of the sounds. 

The Devil was impressed. This boy earned the Devils attention. For the first time in a long time, the Devil was actually challenged by a human. 

I should find help at any cost’, the boy thought. 

All you can find is trouble. Yes, that is what you will find. And if you choose trouble, I can offer you a wide variety of it’, the Devil laughed. 

As the boy reached the road, he found new hope. A hope that the girl could be saved. He started asking for lifts. No one cared to stop. 

‘She is injured,’ the boy implored motorists who drove by. 

‘Please help me take her to a hospital’, he cried aloud. 

Tears started rolling down his cheeks. He couldn’t make out if the tears were due to the pain in his legs or for the girl he was carrying. 

As the boy cried, the Devil laughed. It could already smell its victory.

*** 
The 21-year old Gayathri Narayan had her marriage coming up the next week. Like any other Indian girl, she awaited a dream wedding. The wedding was just the icing, indeed. The fact that she was marrying the man she loved was the real cake. She was very happy the way her life was shaping up. She felt like princess. It was as if the whole world was conspiring to please her. 

That day she decided to give her parents a surprise visit. Gayathri was looking forward to having supper with her parents, and a long phone chat with her fiancĂ©. But now she lay drenched in blood on the highway. 

The boy, who was carrying Gayathri, had a very different story. The dark and lanky youngster was from a nearby town. He was an unemployed high-school dropout who’d recently come to city looking for a job. He had spent his morning giving an unsuccessful interview for a job at call center. As he boarded the train home, he pondered his future. But, all he could now think of was saving a stranger’s life. 

*** 

Just when he had begun to lose hope, a tempo-truck pulled over and its driver, a middle-aged man who spoke Punjabi, stepped out. The man helped the boy lay Gayathri down in the back of his truck. 

‘Let’s take the girl to The City Nursing Home’, suggested the driver. 

When the vehicle lurched forward, Gayathri stirred and her eyes fluttered open. 

Gayathri’s eyelids gently rolled up to reveal her light blue eyes and as they came down again, she managed to take a fleeting glimpse of the sight in front of her. She saw a silhouette of a man, standing against the setting sun. He was holding a stick to support his aching leg. It looked to her as if Lord Ram himself was standing in front of her, protecting her from death. She felt like a baby which was taking refuge in its mother’s womb. She felt safe. 

She started a silent prayer but couldn’t complete it as she lost focus and rolled back into the darkness. 

The Devil saw a similar sight. The boy reminded him of the Angels. As the driver helped the boy to lay Gayathri into the back of the truck, the Devil felt nostalgic. It was turning out to be another Ramayan where in Ram and Hanuman come together to save Sita and vanquish the evil lord. The Devil was terrified. 

‘Check her for the mobile-phone. Try and call someone from her contacts’, the driver suggested to the boy. The boy obeyed. He called a contact which said “Bhaiyaa”. It was the contact of the girl’s brother. 

Gayathri’s cousin was wrapping up his day at his software job when his phone rang. The voice on the other end of the phone informed him of Gayathri’s accident and asked him to come to The City Nursing Home as soon as possible. 

‘I’m on my way’, he said, as he rushed towards his motorcycle. 

Gayathri arrived at The City Nursing Home minutes later. Dr. Avasthi conceived the urgency of the case and admitted her immediately to the ICU. As Gayathri was being taken into the ICU the boy was asked to fill the application form. His hands shivered as he filled it up. 

The Doctor asked the boy to hang around until Gayathri’s family arrived. That’s when they noticed that the driver, having done all he could, had slipped away with his truck.

Oh, I couldn’t thank him!’ the boy thought. 

Gayathri was still unconscious. But her X-rays showed that although the injuries looked severe, they were not fatal. There would be no lasting damage, but Dr Avasthi believed that she could have bled to death had nobody helped her. 

When she finally opened her eyes, her cousin and fiancĂ© were by her side. She couldn’t find the boy who saved her. 

‘Where is the person who saved me?’ she enquired. 

‘He is not here. He had to leave for his town’, her cousin said. 

She just nodded and fell asleep again. 

*** 

In a few days Gayathri made a full recovery. She was amazed to learn of the manner in which she had been rescued. She enquired more about the boy. 

Her cousin said that he had thanked the boy and offered him money which he promptly refused to accept. 

‘I can’t imagine what would have happened to you if he hadn’t been there,’ he said. 

‘I think it’s astonishing that a stranger would jump off a train and risk his life for me. We can never repay him’, Gayathri said. 

The Devil sat in the same room silently. He was outplayed. He was left defeated but was not disappointed. The boy proved that Humanity was still not lost by all. It was scarce, but it did exist. And as long as people go out of their way to help others, Humanity shall prevail. Perseverance of Humanity is biggest weapon of the Angels and hence the biggest threat to the Devils. 

The Devil was about to leave when he heard Gayathri enquire about the name of the boy. As the Doctor looked into the application form to check his name, the Devil waited for the answer. He needed to know the name of the boy who defeated him. 

‘Ekalavya…His name is Ekalavya’, the Doctor announced. 

The Devil then flew out of the hospital already conspiring for the next disaster, hoping that at least the next time, this trait called humanity, would not cause any trouble in its well laid plans. 

Source : fineartamerica.com
As the Devil left, Gayathri smiled and closed her eyes; visualizing the boy’s silhouette and silently completed the prayer which she had started in the truck.

(Based on a true story...)

 

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