The railway station was crowded as usual. I was standing on the pavement opposite to it; observing the frenzied crowd. It was drizzling and my clothes had been drenched. The railway station had always been like that, teeming with people, people from all walks of life. The road in front had small puddles here and there, due to the heavy overnight rain and the passing vehicles were splashing the water in it. Some people were using their umbrellas to shield them from being splashed all over. I moved slowly towards the station; the weight of the bag on my shoulders making it more difficult to walk. The number of people inside the station seemed to grow every minute. The queue at the ticket counters meandered its way through to the other end of the building. The noise inside was deafening. In spite of being tired and worn out; I couldn’t help smiling, looking at the hustle and bustle inside. My weary eyes shone with excitement.
I dragged myself on to the platform. It was equally full with passengers, most of them being office-goers. I looked around for a place to sit. There was a bench to my left; already occupied by a lady and a little girl. I moved towards the bench and sat down in between them. I then placed the bag on my lap. The lady seemed rather annoyed and she turned her face away. The little girl; however, looked at me and gave me a warm smile. I did not smile back. She should have been ten; I thought. The lady was in her forties and she already had small wrinkles on her face. She was busy with her tiny make-up kit; smearing her face with all sorts of cream and powder. The little girl was playing with her baby doll. I observed her with much interest. She was pretending to be its mother, combing its hair, scolding it at times, and straightening its dress. I admired the little girl.
I really couldn’t recollect my mother’s face. I was taken away from her, when I was three. I had never seen her since. Now, the little girl seemed to take over my mind. It was a pleasant feeling. Suddenly my ears picked up the sound of the approaching train. I watched it as it passed by. It took about five minutes for the train to come to a complete halt. There was a sudden flurry of passengers; they seemed to come from everywhere. I waited patiently on the bench. The lady got up immediately as the train stopped. The little girl got up and moved towards her mother who was standing in front of the refreshment station. As she walked away, she waved her hand at me. I looked at her face and couldn’t help smiling back in return. That girl seemed to like me, I thought.
I got up sluggishly and moved towards the compartment nearby. It was almost full. I looked around and then got in. All the seats had already been taken and so I had to stand. I placed my bag on the overhead rack and looked at my watch. I got down onto the platform and walked in the direction opposite to the train. People were still getting in and more passengers were entering the platform for the next train. I saw the little girl by the window, as I walked by. She was still playing with her doll. She saw me and waved at me. This time, I didn’t wave back; neither did I smile. I just couldn’t. She was still waving her hand at me; but I dared not look back at her. I had reached the end of the platform. Suddenly I heard someone calling me. It was a faint whisper. I turned around; but there was no one in sight. I heard the whispers again. I shut my eyes tight.
By now darkness had crept into my mind as I continued to walk. Suddenly the little girl appeared in front of me. She was holding the doll in her hands. She was saying something; but I could only hear her faint whispers. Her face was glowing in the darkness and it seemed to light up the surrounding gradually, but strongly. She was trying to overpower me from within. I tried to shake her off; but her radiance seemed to take over my mind completely. She was smiling now; but her red lips were still moving; trying to say something. I knew I had to do something fast. I felt as if my whole world was beginning to radiate the newly found light. Things were going out of my control and I let my body do the rest. I took out the remote-control unit from my pocket and felt for the button with my thumb. I looked up at her face for the last time. Her faint whispers were still in the air. I pressed the button.
The smile had gone away from her face. I could make out a tear running down her cheeks. She let go off her doll and turned around. As she walked away from me, she was also taking away the radiance that she had spread. A large cloud of smoke had risen from the railway station. My mind was clear now as darkness once again crept into my little world, the aftermath of her faint whispers still ringing in my head.