Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, 10.51 am.
He nervously looked at his watch, fingers beating a tattoo on it. The weather was sultry. His collar was damp, with sweat trailing and pooling in the waistband of his trousers. The tracks appeared to melt in the haze of the oppressive, crowded station.
The weather wasn’t the only reason, sweating as a result of alcohol withdrawal can last up to several months. With anxiety bringing up the rear. He wiped his forehead with a damp handkerchief, rubbing his hand over his gaunt cheeks, his sunken eyes shielding his pain.
“Just nine minutes left. How nervous am I! Will she remember me? Will she care? Maybe she already hates me. What’ll happen in these nine minutes?”
His reverie was interrupted by the approaching train’s announcement over the sound system. His heartbeat quickened, his sweat glands going into overdrive as he waited.
Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, 11.00 am.
He shuffled his feet in the few centimetres of free space. His hand tapped the note and the photograph in his shirt pocket, confirming their presence. The note, an apology was tear-stained, the only surviving member amongst its brethren that lay crumpled. He retrieved the picture showing two beaming adults and an infant in happier times, lovingly gazed at it.
In the nine years that’d elapsed, their house wore a deserted and forlorn look, missing its missus’ sunny presence. His alcohol addiction has ruined everything, eventually forcing Anjali to walk out with their three-months-old daughter.
Now nine-months-and-four-days sober, he was at the station, trying to reconcile, hoping for their forgiveness, and acceptance.
The sudden onset of the train and whoosh of the wind caused the photograph to whirl out of his hand, as the train screeched to a halt in front of him.
What happened after those nine minutes?
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