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A Child’s Innocence
Author: M B J Pancras

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Roopur railway junction looked hectic with passengers and platform traders. The whole of the railway station was filled with rustling noise. A passenger train bound for Rathanpur crawled through the track of the first platform. The sound of the engine horn seemed to deafen the ears while entering the junction for a short while halt. Railway information was spread out through the loudspeakers installed at various corners of the junction. The sun was at its zenith scorching every substance upon the earth. Passengers and traders’ faces were covered with masks. People on the platform walked jostling one another.

The train arrived at its spot with a sudden jerk. Mobs of passengers ran haphazardly trying to board the compartments both into the general and reserved compartments. The police were seen brandishing their batons against the passengers. While boarding the compartments erratic passengers were kicking their fellow-passengers and pulling their bags. The straps of some the bags snapped and the contents of the bags were thrown out and scattered on the platform. It happened while the train was still on its slow movement. A few of them was seen being dragged along with their bags. It was a pathetic sight. An old man was seated in a corner of the platform and was watching this scene quietly but his mind was working with thoughts.

The clock dangling in the middle of the platform from above a hook of the steel sheet showed 12. The sun was at its zenith. Just below the clock, a child was seen playing with a bed sheet which was laid on a woman lying unmoved. The child was two years old. It was a female child. The child enjoyed its child’s play. It tried to pull the bed sheet from the woman’s body.

Then it dropped its attempt since the other corner of the bed sheet was stuck in the woman’s body. The old man sitting in a corner was watching this episode keenly. He could not understand why the child had been doing so.

The child had its play nearly ten minutes. It ran towards the woman’s face and stroked it with its tender fingers. Sometimes a little boy of four ran to the child and picked her up and ran to the other corner. But the child could not control its playing with the woman; ran again towards the woman lying unmoved. Now the child fondled the woman’s nose with its nose.

“Oh, it’s the child’s mother!” The old man sitting in a corner found out the truth.

Just then a passenger wearing shorts, his face covered with beard, was seen passing the way. The child dashed against the man unknowingly because its mind was fully preoccupied with its child’s play. The old man was shocked to see that incident. Yes. The man pulled the child and thrashed it out of his way. The child was about to fall but fortunately her elder brother of four caught hold of the child and saved the child from falling down. The man with dark beard did not stop but walked callously.

“Oh, this is the situation in this world now!” The old man expressed his empathy dejectedly.
“Humanity is killed!”

The child continued its child’s play. The child might be looking for milk. So it might have been pulling the bed sheet spread on the woman’s body.

“Oh, the child wanted its mother’s breasts.”

The clock showed five minutes past twelve. The engine of the train began to pull its compartments with jerks and finally with a heavy jerk. The train was overcrowded with passengers; many hanging at the doors. No one cared anyone’s life. The train picked up its speed with a loud scream of its whistle.

The train left the junction. Still many more passengers were seen waiting for some other trains.

The old man rose from his seat and came close to the child playing with its mother. He looked at the woman’s face very close and found that the woman had been dead. She looked thin and skinny. Around her were some bags and gunny bags containing rags and aluminum vessels.

“She had reached this junction with her two children from Milapur just today morning.” The old man heard someone saying.

“Alas! The woman died of starvation leaving her two children orphaned. Where will the two go? Who will take care of them? Don’t they have their father?” The old man was aggrieved and hurried to the Health Workers at the other side of the platform in the railway junction.

The Health Workers carried the body of the woman to the mortuary and led the two children to an orphanage.

The old man came back to seat and continued to watch very many episodes.

------- Author's Notes -------

(This short story is written based on a real incident happened in one of the railway junctions in India.)

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