The next four days were going to be extremely stressful for Arjun. His manager had convinced him to attend an IT Seminar at Kakkanad, Kochi which was at least five hours away from Kozhikode where he stayed. The fact that he was the primary designer of the latest mobile game and only he knew the entire algorithm from start to finish and he was the best person to articulate the game, its concept, its design to the venture capitalists who were attending the IT Seminar meant that he had to make the trip.
While the company’s travel agent had managed to book him on a late night train from Kozhikode to Ernakulam in the First Class coach, Arjun’s carefully developed schedule and his daily routine would be upset at least for the next four days and this was extremely distressful to him. However, his manager called on a favor that he had done for Arjun four years ago when he retained his employment despite a mildly irritating incident with co-workers who were talking a little loudly in office, and this forced Arjun to agree to make the trip.
By around 9 PM, he was packed for the trip and started walking down to the Railway Station which was around 6 kms from where he stayed. He made it to the station in time and also managed to board the train successfully.
His co-passenger in the coupe was an elderly man who introduced himself as Kesavan. Despite his outstretched hand and genial smile, Arjun didn’t return the courtesy and just mumbled his name. Kesavan didn’t take offence to his behavior and wished him a good night and proceeded to lie down on his lower berth. Arjun then took his place on the upper berth and tried his best to make himself comfortable and go to sleep.
Despite his best attempts, he couldn’t sleep as he couldn’t adjust to the sounds and the motion of the moving train. In fact it was only when the train came to a complete stop sometime at around 2 AM that he managed to doze off. And even this small semblance of sleep was disturbed by the sound of someone persistently tapping on the side of the coupe.
He looked down at the lower berth and saw Kesavan spasming uncontrollably with his feet violently hitting the side of the coupe; he seemed to be having an epileptic fit. Arjun immediately jumped down from his upper berth, opened the door to the coupe and alerted the guard in the coach. The guard came running, and forced Kesavan’s fingers around the window grills. The subsequent pressure helped Kesavan’s seizure and spasms to stop and he fainted.
The guard then addressed Arjun- The train will soon stop at a small station. I will jump out and request the station master to keep the train there for at least five minutes. I need you to help this man here get out of the train and help him to the Station Master’s chambers. The Station Master will then have an ambulance come over and take him.
Saying so and without giving Arjun an opportunity to react, the guard rushed out of the coupe. In the meantime Kesavan was slowly coming to and Arjun then gave him some water to drink.
In another three odd minutes, the train rolled into a station and Arjun had no choice but to help Kesavan up. He grabbed the old man’s only bag as well, while slinging his own laptop bag on his back. He helped him out of the train and to the Station Master’s chambers where he helped him sit on a chair.
Arjun then ran back into the slowly moving train to resume his journey. It was then he noticed that Kesavan’s mobile phone had fallen down on the floor of the coupe, probably when he was having his seizures. It was one of the cheap Korean mobiles which had broken and switched off, probably from the impact of having fallen down.
Arjun seized the mobile, and jumped out of the moving train. By the time he ran back to the Station Master’s chamber and gave Kesavan his mobile, the train had started moving quite fast and there was no way that Arjun could get back on.
Figuring out that Arjun had missed his train in the process of retrieving his mobile phone, Kesavan thanked him and offered him a ride in the ambulance that the Station Master had called for to take him to the nearest hospital. Left with no choice, Arjun agreed. He also requested the Station Master to make arrangements for his luggage to be taken out of the train at the next station and kept in the cloak room so that he could collect it later.
As it is Arjun didn’t like changes in his routine, his life and had been extremely distressed at the thought of being forced to travel to Kochi on this official trip. And the happenings of the night had served to irk him further, what with him having to actually physically touch Kesavan, talk to him and help him out of the train to the Station Master’s room and all that. Little did he know that his ‘journey’ was just beginning.