That Innocent Smile...

by Sophia - Date: 2008-07-21 - Word Count: 1388 Share This!

I knew this would change everything but as I stood there transfixed, I felt helpless as I read that shocking article in the newspaper. I felt and big solid ball like thing rolling, choking between my chest and my neck. I knew this made a big change in me. I made up my mind not to open my mouth during travel!

The Bilaspur-New Delhi Rajdhani is expected to arrive shortly at platform number 4 was the announcement in three different languages as I entered the Nagpur station. Anyways I confirmed the platform number in the digital display. I moved to a bench near the place where the II AC compartment was expected to halt and I kept my bag on the wooden bench close to the staircase. It was 3.45 pm. The train was expected to arrive at 4.00 pm.

As I kept my bag on the bench I noticed a very big family sitting in the next bench. The family was having so much of fun nagging each other. I was anyways not interested in them. The train arrived exactly at 4 pm. I boarded and easily found my seat. I pushed my knap sack just below my seat and sat watching through the window.

A girl from the big family got into my compartment. The family who saw her off were probably her parents, brother, baabhi (brother's wife), their kids, and her two sisters; they seemed very anxious about her comfort and the woman, probably her mother, gave the girl detailed instructions as to keep her things safely, not to get down in any station and to avoid talking to strangers.

They waved goodbye as the train pulled out of the station. The girl concentrated on settling down comfortably and then looked at me appraisingly since I sat opposite to her. She had a slim build and was wearing a black pencil skirt and yellow top. She had a short haircut and her hair locks dangled on her cheeks and neck. She looked very gracious and beautiful. I gave her a hesitant smile and when she reciprocated I proceeded to introduce myself.

"Hello! I'm Aria from Nagpur," I smiled at her
"Hi! I'm Divya," She smiled back at me
"Where are you from?" I asked
"We are basically from Chennai but now we live in Jabalpur," her blush was very cute
"Your parents stay at Jabalpur?"
"Yes! My Dad's is recently posted here."
"Where does your father work?" I was just curious
"He is joined as and emeritus Proffessor in Jabalpur University. What do you do?" she asked me back.
"I'm a microbiologist and I work with CSIR, Govt of India. I was in Chennai for the past 8 months. Now I work in Nagpur. I am going to Delhi for a project meeting."
"Oh! wow!" she was excited.
"I'm in my final year of graduation and am going back to college after my Diwali vacations," she continued.
"Which college do you study in?" I asked her
"St. Xaviers," she replied with a smile.

She then took out a novel from her handbag and settled down reading it.

There were two more women in the compartment; two women one of them must be in her early thirties and another in her early fifties. They looked alike and I thought they maybe sisters or may be mother and daughter. They wore vibrant colored saree and lots of jewelry. They had a heavy luggage with them. Their perfume was so heavy it filled the full coupe. I don't like people who wear heavy perfume. I hated them from that go!

The next station, Bhopal, two young guys boarded our compartment. They too had a lot of luggage and they looked quite flustered. They heaved a sigh of relief when the train finally pulled out of the station. Their seat was in the side lane and after sometime they started a conversation with Divya.

"Where are you from?" asked one guy
"Jabalpur," replied Divya smiling back.
"Are you traveling alone?"
"Yes" she nodded
"Where are you going?"
"Oh! We are also headed there. Do you have relatives there?"
"No I'm in college"
"Where do you stay?"
"In college hostel"
"What are you studying?"
"I'm in my Final year of Graduation "
"That's nice. Which subject?"
"English" she answered . She was a very cheerful girl.

Later I learnt that Divya was getting married after her exams. However I could not help noticing that the guys showed lots of interest in Divya and were asking her lot of questions. The ladies in our compartment were quiet and only talked among themselves.

After dinner Divya buried herself into the novel again and the ladies in our compartment decided to take a little nap. So the berths had to be released. Divya put her pillow on the windowpane, leaned on it, switched on the night lamp and started reading her book. I started turning pages of a magazine that I had. The night was quiet and passed without any hustle or bustle. At 6.30 am the train was expected to reach New Delhi station. But it was announced that the train was 2 hours late and would reach New Delhi at 8.30 am.

I found the women in my compartment also had become very friendly with Divya by that time and they were sharing their homemade snack with her. The boys were also up and getting ready but Divya looked surprisingly very sleepy. I thought I would wake her up, but I saw the ladies wake her. She sat up groggily and stood up but sat down again immediately and complained that she felt dizzy. The boys helped her to get her things together. I found her bubbly when she was having her tea with the snacks those ladies shared. When the train stopped the boys got down and they also helped Divya to get down. She was not steady on her feet. As I saw my office cab driver standing with my name placard, I wished her the best and bade her goodbye before I made my way out of the station.

I had forgotten Divya, in my hectic project schedule and was happily back home in Nagpur after a grueling one week. After a day I was shocked to find an article in the local newspaper that a young girl had been found murdered at New Delhi station. Attached to it was a small photograph, which added to my further shock. I recognized it to be Divya. I could not believe my eyes and could not comprehend how such a thing could have happened. Her smiling innocent face, flashed across again and again. I felt something choking in my heart. I learnt from the newspaper that her decomposed body had been recovered from one of the hotels near the station. The room boy working in the hotel had alerted the manager and then the manager informed the police about the stench coming from the room. The door had been broken open to discover Divya's dead body. On investigation the police discovered that two women brought a half -conscious girl to the hotel and said that it was their relative, who was sick and wanted to stay there for a day or two until the girl was all right. It was reported that investigation regarding the girl's mysterious murder was going on.

After two days I found another article in the newspaper, which said that the investigation had revealed that the ladies had carried half conscious Divya into the room, tied her to the cot, locked her up and gone away. Then they had returned with two men, who raped her and then had tried to force her into prostitution. The women had sold her to the men for just Rs.5000/-. When Divya refused to cooperate to those guys, they had threatened her with a knife, when she tried to scream they made cuts on several places in her body. Divya later died due to excessive loss of blood. The police had arrested both the ladies and the men who raped her and it was also discovered that the culprits were involved in trading women for prostitution. They had found Divya to be an easy target.

I grieved on the loss of a guiltless life. I couldn't forget that innocent smile which flowered on her beautiful face......

Related Tags: train, alone, journey, travelling

A doctorate in Chemistry and a Scientist currently working on pollution control in association with the Govt of India. A nature lover, traveling and photography are my passion. I do write poetry, paint and sketch during my free time.

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