#1 The unexpected phone call

Raj retired to his house after a tiring day. He didn’t have much choices when it came to housing, owing to his job as a construction worker. It was not a grand house to live in, but merely a hut to put a roof above his head. Wasn’t that the point of a house? To provide a roof above your head and sanctuary from harm. He thought. His house was a small hut, just enough for him to put a bed, a small stove and a few utensils. He cooked a little rice for himself. Got some curry and curd to eat along with it. It was not a great meal, but it was enough to fulfil his hunger. Everything in his life became minimal and to the point of them. Food was meant to keep him alive and give him strength. Drinking was supposed to drown him in sleep making him forget his pains. A house was supposed to help him sleep during the time he didn’t work and give him some place to eat. And money should be enough for him to get food, a few clothes and a few drinks every day. And the money that he earned got him just that. Liquor was cheap to obtain and food was not of great quality. But having great quality food and wine was not something that he had access to. And he was happy with what he got.

As he was about to sleep, he heard kids wailing from the houses beside his. Kids were not supposed to work in the site that he worked in. It was a construction job and having kids working there would be illegal. The builders used to have children when the parents, who were workers in the site had pleaded them to put them in work. But that didn’t go really well when the officials came for a surprise inspection. All the kids were immediately sent home. A few days later, a big NGO came to that site and convinced the parents to send the kids to school. Since then, the kids were sent to school and the parents to the construction site. The NGO had taken care of all the expenses for the school. As the kids were not too tired now, because of attending school than they were when they were used to working, they have some energy left in their body during the night and they want their parents to play with them. Life has become better for them and that is a great thing for the parents. But until how long before they want their kids back in work, trying to earn something for the house? A while later, his phone started ringing.

Tring Tring. Tring Tring.

Tring Tring. Tring Tring.

One of the world’s oldest ringtone. He was not up to the trends. He didn’t like having a good ringtone. Or for that matter, a decent phone itself. He still carried a Nokia 1100 with him. And there was only a handful of people he would be calling or he would expect to call to that phone. It included his parents, the engineer of the building, the leader of the union and the leader’s son, when the leader is not available. He worked in a construction site in Lingampally, Hyderabad. His father used to tell him that if you don’t study well, you’ll have to do construction work to make your living. Although they do a good job, it’s not really satisfying for a life. It’s filled with hazards and all. His dad didn’t want him to be like this. But fate had other plans for him. He ended up being here. He had to fight a lot with his dad when he told that he got a job as a construction worker. His dad had cursed him for not listening to him and becoming something that he didn’t want him to be. But the way of fate had no other option. It changed his entire life on that day. And it decided to change it again, today. In form of a phone call.

This call was not something he would expect on a normal basis. And if it did, it was not good news ever. Reluctantly, he picked up the call.

“Hello” he spoke.

“It is time. They have located you” came from the other end.

“Understood. I’ll call you once I reach another place” Raj replied, as he put down the receiver and got up to change his clothes and start off. To a journey he had left incomplete. To a journey, that changed his entire life.

He looked at the time, it was nearly 8 pm. Would he find anything in this time to go anywhere? It was not night yet, but it was almost at the end of the day. He quickly picked up a stack of notes from under his pillow that he always kept for emergencies. There was no time to lose. If they have located him, then they would be here in no time. He has to leave. As quick as he can. As far as he can. Anywhere to lose them from their tracks. He opened up his phone and quickly typed a text to his dad.

Location change time. Will update.

He told only his father of the people searching for him. It took him a lot of time to understand why that happened and he then approved of his son doing a construction job than as a to-be CEO of a company that he built.

Raj started going from the back side of the construction site, it was near to the railway station. He was far from the Secunderabad station and he needed to reach there in an MMTS from his construction site. He went there and took a ticket to Secunderabad. It was about 10 rupees. He manually deleted all the numbers and texts from his phone and threw away the SIM card before he reached Secunderabad. Once he got down there, he would have some chance of going somewhere where he could expect them not to find him. But venturing into the railway station itself was not a very safe option. He knew that they might be there too. But it was better than the alternative of staying at home and not doing anything. They might be there in the railway station and if he was caught, it means that his mission would be a failure. And he needed to make sure it is not. He rushed to the ticket counter. The main trains connecting to bigger cities would be starting around this time and he needed to find a train which he could board. He looked around and found that there was a train to Bengaluru, which is supposed to board in about half an hour. That was the closest he could get. There were no trains that would take him anywhere useful before that.

He went up to the ticket counter to get a general ticket to Bengaluru train. The train announcer says that it is on platform 3 and would be departing soon. Although, it does take some time for the train to depart after the announcement has been made, it is better that he be in the train before it does. He rushes to the overhead bridge and moves to platform three and gets into the train. It is crowded and he manages to sit on the floor near the toilets. That’s as best as a place that he can get now. He can go to the sleeper class after a while when the TC is finished with his rounds of checking, but for now he has to adjust in the general compartment.

The train started to move. He looked out to the moving station and hoped he would escape his ghosts from the past. And as the night became dark, he slowly slipped into sleep.

Surya

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