This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 38; the thirty-eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "The Woman on Platform Number 10"
Chenna pounded up the stairs of the subway and reached platform 9 from where platform 10 was clearly visible on the opposite side. He scanned the entire length of the platform but she was not to be found. He saw a tea stall nearby being manned by an old man.
Chenna asked the old man, ‘Have you seen a girl… a woman’?
The old man looked baffled and asked back, ‘What woman’?
‘The woman on platform number 10. Have you seen her?’ he replied hoping to receive an affirmative reply.
The old man noticed the gun in Chenna’s hand and shook his head, too terrified to even speak. Dismayed, Chenna ran across the track and reached platform 10. He called a number on his mobile and spoke urgently, “She’s not here. Are you sure you saw her?”
A voice spoke back from the phone, “Yeah I saw her. She had a ticket to Behrampur in her hand. I’m sure it was her.”
Chenna banged his fist against the nearby pillar in frustration. He had struggled to find the whereabouts of Valli after she escaped from clutches of Mahadev. An hour later he had received positive news that Valli was seen in the railway station trying to secure a ticket to her village, Behrampur.
He remembered the first time he had set eyes on her. It was the same day that she was brought from her village and sold off into one of whorehouses that was run by Mahadev. Valli, at a tender age of 16, was considered a lucrative catch, a nubile virgin who could fetch thousands of rupees in just one night.
Mahadev agreed to pay 5 lakh rupees to the broker who had brought Valli from her village on the pretext of providing a job for her in Bangalore. Mahadev fell for Valli’s beauty. Her pubescent body and her vernal face would fetch him much more than the money what he had paid for her. But he wanted to be the one to defile her, to break her virginity. He would then pass her along once his carnal desires were satisfied.
But Valli was stronger than they had anticipated. She fought like a tigress, biting and scratching anyone who tried to come near her.
Hearing the commotion, Chenna had come into Mahadev’s room, where he found Valli, partially naked and blood streaming down her face, struggling with Mahadev.
She came running towards Chenna and caught his arm. Her eyes revealed a raging pain that pierced Chenna’s heart and blew him into pieces. He had an inexplicable urge to hold her in his arms and protect her from all evil.
But before he could react, Mahadev pulled Chenna out of the room and locked the door.
“Bitch, she needs to be disciplined. Look at the scratch marks she has inflicted on my arms. She’s one wild cat”, Mahadev grinned at Chenna.
Chenna was in a daze. He was still reeling from the effect that the girl had on him. It was futile to fight in her situation but she doggedly waged a losing battle. He could see his own pain in her eyes. In the split second that their eyes had met, Chenna had felt his soul scorch and sear. After many years he remembered the loving touch of Ajji, some hazy memories of Ajji cuddling him in her arms and narrating stories as she fed him his food.
Chenna was an illegitimate child who had been abandoned a few hours after he was born. When he lay near a ditch crying and thrashing, people thronged around him to watch, but not one of them cared to pick him up. Then an old lady in tattered clothes came and picked him up, took him to her house, bathed him and fed him.
The old lady lived alone in the slums, working as a domestic help to satisfy her hunger. But she always ensured that Chenna’s stomach was full and his clothes were never torn. Chenna called the old lady Ajji, because she was like his doting grandmother, in whose loving care he grew up to be a lovely, cherubic boy.
When Chenna was 5 years old, his Ajji passed away in a road accident. Chenna was orphaned once again; the affectionate awning that he had grown in was brutally snatched away from him. For several months after he spent his nights in the footpaths, eating the garbage that was thrown out of restaurants and sometimes begging at traffic signals. These months changed Chenna’s outlook in life completely, he became bitter and the hardships that life threw at him made him savage and rugged.
He learnt the ‘survival of the fittest’ principle of life. He learnt to fight, for food and for shelter.
On one such night when Chenna was fighting with the other boys for his regular sleeping spot in the footpath, Mahadev noticed him. The boy’s raw energy and his fearless spirit impressed him and he adopted Chenna into his gang.
Mahadev was the nefarious leader of a notorious gang operating in the Kalasipalya area of Bangalore. Mahadev was involved in several crimes like drug peddling, extortions, land grabbing for shady real estate businessmen. Apart from that he also owned numerous whorehouses where adolescent girls were bought and sold like cattle.
Under Mahadev’s tutelage Chenna became a formidable and menacing bully known for brutality and coldness. Most of the policemen knew never to mess with him, but once an honest and scrupulous policeman arrested him. Within an hour Mahadev ensured that Chenna was out on a bail. The next day the policeman’s body was found butchered in a drain. There was a neat single bullet wound on his forehead. It was a clear message to all the other men in force and as expected they backed down.
Chenna was a partner in crime to Mahadev in all his shady businesses but Chenna inexplicably kept himself away from the prostitution houses.
After they had their drinks, Mahadev went back to his room, in an attempt to coerce himself on Valli. But as he entered the room, he saw that window had been forced open and Valli had escaped. He called his men immediately and ordered them to bring her back.
“Chenna, get that bitch back to me. I’ll teach her a lesson that she’ll never forget in her life. How dare she escape from me? Get that slut back to me, my son”, Mahadev had pleaded with Chenna.
Chenna, with his wide network of informers, had traced Valli in an hour.
But standing on platform 10, with no sight of Valli, irked Chenna to such an extent that he kicked a nearby garbage bin. It clanked loudly in the silent night and fell at a far distance. That was when Chenna noticed a pair of anklet adorned legs in the corner behind a large canopy of luggage carts.
Chenna went running and saw Valli sleeping in fetal position unaware of the danger that Chenna posed to her, lurking just a few feet away.
During the early hours of the morning as the train to Behrampur slowly left the station, Chenna stood at the platform watching Valli, who was safely seated inside the train, on her way back home.
If he had wanted he could have dragged Valli back to Mahadev and watched as he ripped her apart and tore her down. But in Valli, Chenna saw a tiny fragment of himself, of the happy times that he had spent with his Ajji, of all the calm nights that he had spent in her arms as she sang lullabies to him, of the secure feeling that he had sensed as she caught him in her arms even as he shivered in the cold nights.
He dropped the gun in his hand, the same gun with which he had killed Mahadev, before coming to the station in search of Valli. He ambled out of the station with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart.
P.S: This is my 100th post and it took me 2.5 years to get here :)
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