It was late in the evening when I entered Howrah Station .It was teeming with office workers returning home after a typically tiring day at work. I didn’t look forward to the prospect of returning home to my husband. The love between us had died years ago. Our marriage had been transformed into a dead corpse buried deep beneath a pile of painful memories. The bits and pieces of pleasure I derived from my daily existence were my only source of sustenance. My husband had accused me of being mentally deranged. But only I know better. He should have thought of a better reason than that to get rid of me.
I hauled my self into a train standing nearby. Finding a seat lying vacant I gleefully slid into it. After having exhausted myself at work securing a place to ease my legs was a welcome relief. The scene inside the train was disquieting. The train being the last one on that particular route, it wasn’t long before the compartment was bursting to the full with people. They jostled and fought with each other in a desperate attempt to keep from falling off.
June is the hottest month in Kolkata; it’s when the when the summers are at the peak of their torment. The sweltering heat conspired with the intolerable humidity to beat the lives out of the commuters. The stench from the garbage rotting on the rail tracks combined with the nauseating smell of human sweat to pervade the whole atmosphere. I felt like vomiting. I subconsciously swallowed the spittle that formed in my throat. In despair, I stared up at the ceiling for comfort. A solitary fan hung up there in a state of eternal rest, hideously shrouded in spider webs. I closed my eyes in a bid to rest my mind. Slowly I allowed myself to fall into a labored slumber.
When I awoke the train had traveled far into the countryside. The seat next to mine was occupied by a pretty nymphet. She had a concerned look on her face. The object of her anxiety was seated right opposite to us. He was the most loathsome, horrid specimen of mankind I had ever seen. He evidently appeared to be a village goon of some reputation. His bloodshot eyes were planted firmly on the girl. She squirmed uncomfortably in her seat under his leering looks. The redness of his eyes was indicative of the fact that he had soaked himself in liquor far exceeding socially acceptable limits.
The girl’s nervousness was infectious. I looked around the compartment. It was completely vacant except for the three of us. I began to grow uneasy. The girl pressed my hand and held up a piece of newspaper for my inspection. She pointed towards a front-page news report. It was on a sensational serial killer who had been haunting Kolkatans for the past couple of weeks. Six young girls had been murdered in different parts of the city. They were discovered with their throats brutally slit open. The killings had been executed with such meticulous efficiency that the murder scenes were totally devoid of any clues. The police were baffled. The report went on to draw parallels with the legendary ‘Stoneman’ who had terrorized Calcutta in early the 90’s and whose identity was yet to be ascertained. The report was undeniably scary and chilling to the bone.
The girl had visibly paled. She motioned with her eyes indicating to me that she considered the man sitting opposite to be a prime suspect. The girl was badly scared and I must admit I was pretty worried myself. Suddenly the train slowed as it approached an oncoming station. I was contemplating the feasibility of getting off the train, well before my intended destination, when the man himself stood up. To my utter surprise and immense joy he hopped off the train as it came to a screeching halt. The girl looked at me and both of us let out a huge sigh of relief. The tension having been released, she began to giggle. I caught up with her silly laughter and soon both of us were laughing away in abandon.
With a rude jerk the train started moving. Soon it was speeding across vast open countryside at a furious pace. Her jangled nerves having been calmed, the girl had begun to doze in her seat. As I looked at her I wondered just how naïve and unsuspecting young girls can be. I slipped my hand inside my handbag and firmly gripped the kitchen knife I always carried. I felt a strange numbness in my fingers but it had to be done. Besides she had an exceedingly beautiful neck. Such a pity!