Train Switch

"May I sit here?" A voice asked disrupting the nervous tapping of Arnav's feet.
He looked up to find a tall lanky man standing at the threshold of the train compartment.

"Sure you can." Arnav mumbled.

The man removed his coat and placed it on the luggage rack along with his black suitcase.

"Hello I am Vicky!” He said holding out his hand.

Arnav scrutinised him through his gold-rimmed spectacles.

Vicky shifted uncomfortably in his seat and gulped.
Did he get to know who I am and what I came here for? Is my moustache coming off? He thought twitching his lips and trying to look as composed as possible.

Is he a policem-

“Did you sanitise your hands after boarding the train?”


“Ok let's get rid of that!”

Arnav pulled his black suitcase from the shelf above and flipped it open.

Is he going to get rid of me?

Inside was an array of sanitisers, wipes, masks and even a thermometer. Arnav pressed the dispenser and a dollop of the clear fluid fell on Vicky's palm.

“This is the best sanitiser, it eliminates 99.99% of germs including Covid. It's a limited edition! I carry the wipes and tissue paper from the same company.”


“You know everyone thinks am a crazy guy carrying these everywhere. My colleagues say am  a germaphobe.”

“Oh I bet they’re right.”


“Err that’s not right.” 

 Arnav went back to the restless drumming of his soles while Vicky rubbed his sweaty palms.
Their eyes met for a flitting second.

“Stressed out?” They both uttered in chorus.

“Actually I am going for a presentation and am not too comfortable being on stage.” Arnav stated. “And you?”

“For…a… an interview!”

“Oh I hate interviews! I get all sweaty almost as if am being held at gunpoint. All my flight and fight hormones get activated.”

“Just visualise the one questioning you being held at gunpoint. Problem solved!”Vicky interjected.

They realized, even if they were poles apart, talking to each other lessened their anxiety. Soon they alighted at their destinations and parted ways.

Vicky cast one last look at his getup and marched towards the bank receptionist who directed him to the cashier counter. He waited patiently in line.

Two clients more and then hold-up mission begins!

One client more! And I will be rich!

“Hands up!”

Vicky turned around to find a policeman instructing him to open his suitcase. All colour drained from his face and his blanched fingers fumbled to open the suitcase latch.

“What is this? Infrared thermometer, wipes, sanitisers?” the police officer yelled. “Where is the stupid manager who issued a false alert?”

“This man is clean. You disturbed us for nothing!”

“No doubt about that!” a constable said reaching for the sanitiser.

“Don't you dare touch anything without washing your hands. This is a special sanitiser, the only one which removes 99.99% of germs. Get your germ-laden hands away!”yelled Vicky.

Pheww…narrow escape... 

“May I leave officer?”


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