As he was lying on the cot, he was wondering what had happened some 15 hours ago. In fact he would have started wondering about it some 15 minutes after the first gunshots. However a combination of heavy stampede, adrenalin flowing through his body due to the scampering for dear life and the staredown with the gun totting maniac for that brief moment had led him to a state of black out.
With an almighty heave and push, he had got out of the First Class “dabba” of the train. It was a huge pain, this daily exercise of pushing and shoving and grappling and wrestling, all for a small part of the hard seat (First class seats, they were called!!) to rest your butt and get a chance to catch some sleep. However he did not mind it. In fact he had no choice but not to mind.
The pain though still stinging had subsided somewhat. In fact he was thankful for the pain in his arms and legs. It gave him the reassurance that they were still attached to the body. Yes, it was that kind of a day.
His pushing ordeal for the day was over and he started his walk towards the exit. He had to reach office to attend the graveyard shift. This new part time job he had taken up was becoming full time leading to lesser and lesser time for himself and his CAT studies. And he was not happy with that. This was his third shot and he was starting to get frustrated.
Hs first thought was of calling up his parents and telling them that he had been in an….. incident. Luckily the medical people were thoughtful and gave him his phone. However the phonelines were jammed. Last time this happened was during that rainy day.
He wanted to clear CAT badly. He had spent his college years just practicing it. An MBA in an IIM was his dream. And the failure of his first two tries had not deterred him anyway. His new job was doing a great “job” in that aspect though. He took it up to earn some money and get some “work ex” : Work Ex was good for you chances of cracking an IIM, those counsellors continuosly yapped. But this work ex was jacking him up.
He then starting recapping the past events. There was a gunshot, that he was sure of. It was not like that shown in the films, where every action scene is backed by techno dhingchak music. But it was more dangerous than those cool scenes. In the films, the hero gets away with some minor bruises. Here it was anything but that.
The job was breaking his will. But he could not leave it. The pay was decent and he needed money to foot the expensive bills of his CAT classes. Also it helped in shutting his parents’ mouths. He spotted an ad of a CAT class which boasted of the best results in a newspaper read by the fellow sitting next to him. It was interesting to note that these classes were at the top in terms of fees charged in the coaching class market and lowest when it came to results. You could not blame them as CAT was tough. But the ads never gave that picture.
The sight was gory to say the least. The gore he had seen and enjoyed in R rated horror movies was PG-13 compared to this. Bodies strewn everywhere. People running for cover. People searching for help or their dear ones. He thanked his stars and his habit of always walking by the edge of the station. He did not know why he did it, but it saved his life. That and the fact that the maniacs entered from the opposite side. But that did not mean he was out of danger. Bullets are dangerous if shot from five feet or five hundred feet.
It was action time. He knew he had to get out of range of those stingers. There was a mass of panicky, paranoid commuters in between him and the shooters. He could not do anything for them as many fell down lifelessly in front of him. What he could do was grab a few hands next to him and scream “Neeche” (Down!!). The scream must have been quite loud as the maniac nearest to him suddenly jerked his neck and stared directly at him. That is when the moment happened. His eyes met the maniac’s. They seemed cold. As in the eyes of the tiger (he was a major fan of Animal Planet)when it gets ready for the kill. How apt as the maniac aimed for him
As he slowly became aware of his surroundings, he saw that next to him was the same person who was next to him. This guy had actually saved his life by throwing a brick at the maniac. That created a diversion and he could run out of the station but with two bullets lodged in his hand. The other guy was also shot. Not fatally, as he thought with relief as this guy was breathing.
Not that they were 100% safe then. However one of the manics (there were at least 3 of them) with the walkie talkie yelled some orders and they just vanished from the sight.
As he sat there thinking, he could see this other chap, his savior stirring. They seemed to have been given the tranquilizer (again, Animal Planet) at the same time.
“Hello, I am Akhtar Ali Sheikh. Thank you for saving my life.”
“Its OK. You were quite heroic in there.”
“That was nothing. By the way, I did not get your name.”
“Ohh…Sriram Pendse. You can call me Sri”.