Hope and Despair

The house was being constructed rather slowly; as if imitating the sentiments of the young family residing within, who were still coming to terms with the loss of Apeksha’s Mother.

Standing isolated among the large paddy farms in remote Kerala, the bare bricked structure has nothing of interest around except the single railway track in front of its entrance. The rare sight of people and the clanking noise offered by the two daily passenger trains, too was muffled by the screen of coconut trees running around the house.

At an age of eight, no one expected Apeksha to understand death. Her father had whispered with moist eyes that her Mother had left them. Questions were aplenty but answers none.

The usually chirpy bird had now embraced silence as her companion. The rare smile on her face dawned only at night, as she listened to her father’s travel tales. Apeksha travelled to the islands of Sunderbans, the temples of Madurai, the gardens of Kashmir, the Ganges, the Sahyadris, the Nilgiris, the wonderful cities of the country through her father’s stories.

‘Where do these two trains go, Pa?’ she asked one night and her father described the beauty of train journeys. He told her about different people, who travel together to various destinations, sharing their food and tales, talking in their own special languages and debating heartily about the common national issues. Enchanted by this wonderful phenomenon, Apeksha requests her father to take her on a train journey some day. Her spirits had visibly improved over the last few weeks which brought peace to her father too.

As he steps out of her bedroom, she asks
‘Pa, Did Mother also travel in the train?’
‘Yes dear and one day, she will come back in the same train that runs across our house.’

Next morning, Apeksha’s father is awakened by voices outside his house. Looking at the clock, he realizes he had overslept, beyond the usual  time of the morning passenger train. As he walks to the entrance, the sight on the tracks plunges him into depths of despair.

Apeksha had left him to be with her mother.



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