Phulguri was drenched in monsoon rains. The furious wet winds have hit this lost and unknown corner of the world. Struggling through the windy rain and darkness of the late evening, Jadhav was inspecting the railway line bisecting the road at Phulguri railway crossing. Walking through muddy puddles of rain in his rubber boots, he flashed the torch at the far end of the railway line. Once left and once towards right. On the left, the rails ran between a hilly gorge and towards right it pierced through a jungle of tall parallel trees. Jadhav assured himself that the lines were clear and no animals from the wildlife sanctuary were strolling around.
Despite zeal for his duty, he knew that rarely a train will pass this crossing. The railway line went tangentially across the Phulguri wildlife sanctuary, and hence the government decided to divert traffic from this line. Mostly freight trains that are rerouted pass by. At the middle of nowhere was Jadhav’s cabin guarding the railway crossing. The nearest hamlet was atleast six miles away. The road cutting across the rails was a detour from the main highway. Even the forest officials have abandoned the road for all practical purposes. The road was mostly used by campers and trekkers to reach the Boropukhuri lake at the heart of the sanctuary. Thus the route was infamous for timber smugglers. Despite the low relative significance of both the road and the railway line, the crossing was alive on government documents. It was soulfully alive before the highway was built; when it was used by British officials to transport railway and military equipments. It was this heritage that Jadhav was guarding or perhaps preserving.
Jadhav was all alone, at Phulguri and in life, but he was fearless. He had fought greater horrors in life, the horror of poverty. He was twenty three years old and a new recruit in railway gateman staff. Phulguri was his first posting, which explained his enthusiasm for work.
He entered his cabin, opened his raincoat and boots drenched in mud. He had arranged a charcoal heater to warm him inside the cabin. His lone companion in this wilderness was his transistor radio, that he had bought with his first salary. The music in the radio was duelling with the sounds of thunder. Yet the song playing on the transistor was successful in setting a mood of calm within this storm. Wet and cold, he sat near the heater to warm himself up. Besides his official register, Jadhav kept his red notebook. A notebook to fulfill his thirst for poetry. He was an avid poet during his early years of college , an unusual habit to expect from a college dropout. His dropping out of college was not a result of poverty of intelligence but lack of money and a conspiracy of misfortune. Nevertheless he tried to keep his hobby alive but in this race for job and livelihood his notebook was still empty. He had lost his touch with creative romance. To rejuvenate his dormant poet, he had brought the red notebook with him. But he was struggling to write, he was waiting for his train of inspiration to arrive.
To be continued …