The near dense foliage had reached a clearing. The long forgotten rail track submerged under foliage suddenly made itself known as Harsh tripped and fell. It was cold evening and Harsh felt a shiver down his spine.
He was a new visitor to this part of the land lying in outside their huge estate. Harsh had heard about a rail route running near their estate boundaries, and today, he came to discover it.
His great grandfather was an employee with the railways. His father had told him events during the British railway service; and it was one story that struck him as a child. That story was about a treehouse built near the long forgotten rail track. Today, Harsh had turned twenty, and as he had returned home during his two days holiday from his internship with Chittaranjan locomotive works, he could not stop wandering in the neighbourhood wilderness.
” Ouch! The knee hurt but Harsh was not to be stopped. As he began to brush off the twigs and dry leaves from his trousers, he felt chilly. The twilight was giving way to darkness.
Out of the thicket in front, he could see a glimmer of light shining through.
As he traversed the crisp dry leaves under his feet, a humming could be heard.
He made his way through the peepul, banyan and sal trees. He saw an old man sitting near the rail track with some tools near him. Behind him was an old banyan tree. Looking up, he was surprised to find an old treehouse perched on top of the tree.
“Looking up to the treehouse? You can go up to it if you want. I live up there. “
” Is it safe dada? It must be quite old.”
” Well, I am old too, you see. If I am not mistaken, aren’t you the grandson of Souravji?”
” Yes! I am. Are you Ramdulal bhaiya? My father spoke once about you. You used to be my grandfather’s childhood friend.”
The old man’s face brightened up.
” Yes beta. I am Ramdulal dada. Your grandfather and I lost contact when we grew up. Those were the days, when life was so slow paced.
It was one of the unlucky days that snatched away…”
Ramdulal turned and left, without looking back.
Suddenly, Harsh heard a whistle, a chugging, and then a thud! Voices could be heard in the short distance from where Harsh was standing.
A glow could be seen emanating and some people running to the track. Ramdulal had been hit. His lifeless body was carried away. A man could be seen crouching near the track, dressed in khaki shorts and brown leather boots. When he looked up, he could be seen weeping bitterly. It was Sourav Chaturvedi, Harsh’s great grandfather!
Harsh was sweating profusely. He began to run back towards their estate. That very night a fire engulfed the dense growth and the treehouse was also burnt down. The cause of the conflagration, remained unknown.
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