13 min read

[Content Warning: This story contains references to suicide.] 

Vasant was a real problem, a menace in fact, a kid who still hadn’t learnt the difference between saying too much and saying too little. 

You might have confronted him about it, you might have questioned him about why he said the silly and brash things that he did, but he’d sincerely tell you that he couldn’t remember, and good god would that infuriate you. You’d wish for all of the sky to fold over and fall right over this kid’s round head, but the truth, the hard unfortunate truth, was that the speed of his speech was significantly faster than the speed with which he processed his thoughts, and that he so often couldn’t remember what he said was entirely believable. 

He had that youthful arrogance of childhood coursing through his blood. He walked and talked and danced and sang like someone who hadn’t thought about death yet, which is difficult to engage with as an adult. When the awareness of one’s limited time starts to hit, life itself takes on a different course, time itself means different things. Life is lived from deadline to deadline, from sickness to sickness, and the older you are, that acute awareness of the oncoming end gets more tangible - death is like an object that slowly materialises in front of one’s eyes, and all of life is just a preparation for how you would react when it’s finally there in front of you, ready to be swallowed. 

Anyway, Vasant had no inkling about any of this. Not only was he unconcerned about his inevitable end, he was also convinced he would never experience it, and that he would be young forever. No grey hairs, no wrinkles around the eyes, no painful gastric problems - Vasant believed he’d be 17 for the rest of time, to the point he was also sure that all his friends and classmates would become old, but he’d always be 17. 

It really wasn’t his fault. It was many other people’s fault though, all of them adults, and it began several years ago when his Uncle Bunty came home to visit. Vasant was barely ten when the older man sat him down on the floor of his living room and spoke to him from the comfort of his armchair. Vasant had just returned from playing a cricket match at the maidan nearby. His white shirt and pants were half green from tumbling over numerous times on the dry green grass, and in his hand was the cricket ball that he and his teammates played their match with - he got to take it home because he had taken the wickets of five of the opposition’s best batsmen. That was the third such ball he had brought home that month, and his mother was already complaining about the space they took up. 

Uncle Bunty was cool. Unlike Vasant’s father, his hairline hadn’t begun to recede. He ate at restaurants a lot, he travelled to places Vasant hadn’t heard of, and he suffixed his Hindi sentences with English phrases like “you know?” to belabour whatever point he was making. 

What really stuck out for Vasant though was that Uncle Bunty always wore shades - something about concealing one’s eyes really interested Vasant. All of one’s body could lie, but the eyes never betrayed the truth. Vasant thought wearing shades was like keeping a secret, many secrets maybe, that the eyes couldn’t bear to hide. Uncle Bunty’s shades were dark black like they’d been painted over, and he wore them everywhere, even at home, which any young, impressionable boy would be fascinated by.

So when he sat him down and asked him to listen, Vasant listened. The rest of the World was non-existent to Vasant’s ears, and the only thing he could hear was awesome Uncle Bunty. And he said: 

“You are going to be the best fast bowler in the world.” 

That was the first time someone had said that to Vasant, and he immediately wanted to hear it again. He even asked his Uncle Bunty to say it again and, the cool man that he is, he did; louder and with more confidence. “YOU are going to be the BEST fast bowler in the WORLD.” 

His father had just then walked into the room, and Uncle Bunty got him to say it as well. Vasant called his mother over and asked her to say it, and to say it like she meant it, and she said it because she really did mean it. It’s an odd thing to hear for a child. While every single thing he did was scrutinised, corrected, or was entirely denied from ever doing again by various adults of different shapes and sizes, this seemed to be the one thing that all of them collectively agreed with. 

And so for a long time, Vasant went around asking unsuspecting neighbours if they thought he’d be the best fast bowler in the world, and nobody disagreed. Even his coach, otherwise a hard ass who took delight in earning a living by punishing ten-year olds, conceded that with hard work and perseverance, Vasant could reach the absolute top. He had what he called ‘natural talent’, and his coach had already started thinking about playing Vasant in the older leagues because he was far too good for his own age group. 

Over the next few years, Vasant wanted to hear it more and more. He wanted people he didn’t know at all to say it and he did everything he could to force the statement out of people. Not by any physical coercion on any such thing, but by sheer practice and dedication. Everyday, for seven years, even on Sundays, even on Navratri and Independence Day, even on his birthday, Vasant woke up early in the morning and walked to the maidan nearby. He went to the practice nets his coach would have set up for him and his teammates, and plonk a single stump at one end of the pitch. Sometimes, to really challenge himself, he’d place a coin at a random mark on the pitch as a target to test his accuracy. 

And then he bowled. 

A fast bowler, unlike a spinner, relies on an immense amount of strength to force the ball down the 22 yards of the cricket pitch at as fast a speed as possible. It’s often understood to be a more brutish part of the game, reserved for the more knuckleheaded sorts who would rather beat the shit out of whatever problem life threw at them than think of clever ways of solving them. 

But Vasant was different—he was tall, baby-faced, and sure, he had broad shoulders and strong wrists, but he wasn’t a beast. Nobody would guess he was a fast bowler by the way he looked - that was until they saw him bowl, of course. 

He’d run smoothly, gazelle-like, ball in hand and towards the batsman, eyes focused on whatever spot he would want to bowl at. When he ran in to bowl, the wind blew along behind him like an ally, prepared to give him that extra push to let the ball fizz through the air at speed after being released. He owned the atmosphere for those few seconds he ran, and those who watched him found themselves inadvertently holding their breaths until he reached his crease, jumped high, and then rolled his arm around his shoulders to deliver the ball to whoever was unfortunate enough to be at the other end. And if there happened to be a coin he placed on the pitch, it was almost certain he’d have hit it. 

People walking by the ground, who had jobs to go to, lovers to meet, appointments to keep, would all stop for a few minutes to see this phenom, this cricketing genius bowl an over or two. They couldn’t help it if they tried. It was like looking at a Van Gogh painting, or listening to an AR Rahman song for the first time, or watching the sun quietly set behind lush green mountains. The human mind has the tendency to naturally gravitate and be distracted by the spectacular, by something divine, and Vasant’s ability to bowl was as good as raw, magnificent, and high art. 

Once he delivered the ball, he’d promptly turn around and return to his initial mark to bowl the next one. But as he was walking back, he’d make sure to look at the faces of whoever stopped by to watch him. And even though they never said it, he could read it in their expressions, he could see it in the way their legs stood still on the ground stuck like it was in cement, and he could see it in their unshakably true eyes that they were all thinking the same thing: “he’s going to be the best fast bowler in the World.” When a child’s destiny is on the lips of every adult he knows, how could one blame him for being brash like the way he was. They might still have disciplined him, might still have chastised him for doing certain things, but he knew that him being the best fast bowler in the world would trump all of that noise. He was a local superhero, the boy who would change the fortunes of his family, his friends, and his locality. They gave him a free reign because to be an obstacle to his destiny meant being an obstacle to your own. As far as everyone knew, the fates had already written his future in gold. 

So when Vasant walked to the cricket maidan one morning, as he usually did, and instead saw a swank as hell Metro station being built over what used to be his beloved cricket pitch, it felt like a real smack to the head. 

He ran up to the nearest man with a yellow construction hat and yellow jacket and asked: “what is this?” 

The man turned around to respond, but not before flashing a corporate-mandated toothy grin that was meant to ease the minds of the residents of the area if they ever came up and asked any of the employees a question. 

“It’s a Metro Station! It will ease traffic congestion by 23% and reduce commuter travel time by 46%. Isn’t that amazing?” 

The station looked like a gigantic cube that had haphazardly fallen at a random spot in the city. It was ugly, an abomination of architecture, an irritant for the eyes. But Vasant stared right at it, at its hideous pillars, its unpleasant contours, its primitive construction - he assumed the structure to be his nemesis, the first villain in the story of the most exciting left arm fast bowler in the world. 

He looked right on top of it where a Metro track already pierced through, connecting with stations ahead and behind that also seemed to have suddenly appeared overnight. And then he looked at the base of the station, at the cement that was responsible for the destruction of his beloved maidan. That there had been a cricket pitch there just the previous day would be unrecognisable, but the government had an idea to address this. 

“We’re going to name the station after the maidan!” the yellow jacketed man informed Vasant. “As a tribute,” he added, cheerfully, his face glowing with an optimism that the boy wanted to punch out of him. 

That’s when the construction began to feel like mockery. Vasant turned around and stomped his way towards his coach’s home in the hope that their shared outrage might tear the building down. 

On the way there though, he was already a little concerned - he saw the same people who would stop by and watch him bowl everyday, walking past him to enter the new station, indifferent that just a day earlier it was a maidan they enjoyed looking at. In fact, he even overheard two friends talking about how glad they were about the station.

He reached his Coach’s home, which was like walking into a half empty bottle of rum. The Coach drank a lot. He drank so much that even his walls began to drink, and then his chairs, and then his TV, and slowly his home was just consumed by all of it. If you breathed too deeply in that living room, you could have died of alcohol poisoning. 

Vasant entered carefully, his fingers holding down his nose, and woke his Coach up to tell him the news. He expected the man to stand on his feet, clench his fists and vow revenge against the bastards who made these decisions. But all he did was close his eyes for a few seconds, take a deep breath, count to ten, and then grunt: “hmm.” 

It wasn’t that the Coach wasn’t concerned. He was just aggressively self aware of his standing in society. If the city decided that the cricket ground would now be a metro station, he had absolutely no power to stop it. The rebellious spirit of youth that Vasant had was something that was crushed early in the Coach’s life, and he wanted to do the same for Vasant. 

“We’ll find another ground,” he finally told Vasant, who was deeply troubled by this inadequate response. He wanted to take all the cricket balls he got to take home and launch them at the men destroying his maidan; he wanted to take a giant pair of scissors and snip the Metro lines in half and watch the trains tumble and fall on to the roads; he wished for violence to release the angst that was festering inside of him, and seeing his Coach shrug and move on only enraged him further. 

The Coach took him along to another maidan a few kilometres from where they were. It was a longer walk, and the city’s merciless humidity had already choked them by the time they reached. The new maidan was a little smaller, the grass not as green and not cut as evenly, but it didn’t matter. Vasant’s skills were concentrated on those 22-yards in the middle. 

Vasant harnessed the rage he had stored up since the morning to bowl. He ran faster, jumped higher and pushed his shoulders even harder. He bowled the fastest he ever had, so fast that he broke a few stumps and made a dent in a coin. There was no batsman who dared to face him on the day. Vasant looked possessed - he pictured the wickets ahead of him to be the station he wanted to knock down, and bowled at it at a speed and accuracy meant for wreckage. 

But it didn’t last very long. Rage too begins to taper away over time, and the force which Vasant could tap into because of it had already weakened. He took to practising at the new maidan, but the farther distance meant he had to wake up a little earlier and walk a little longer. He would arrive at the maidan groggy and dazed, and he’d already be a little tired - the city’s heat was persistent and worked overtime. It didn’t care for the time of day, it’s job was to be hot and nothing else, whether it be in the mornings, evenings or nights. And by the time Vasant reached the ground, his napkin would already have been drenched in his sweat. 

It all impacted his performance, of course. He wasn’t hitting his targets as often, and batsmen were less afraid of facing him. He would have used so much of his energy just walking to the ground that he wouldn’t have enough left to bowl at the speeds he’d have liked. But Vasant took all of this as a challenge, another conflict in his story that needed resolving. He’d adjust to the conditions, he’d rewire his brain, and he’d reimagine the kind of fast bowler he was. 

It even worked for a few days. He adjusted a few things in his game with the help of his Coach, and began delivering balls like he used to - on target, fast, and terrifying. The crowds began gathering around to watch him again, and the first crisis in the story of Vasant seemed to have been averted. 

That was until he woke up one morning and walked the long walk to the ground, as he usually did, but instead saw a garish, oversized Metro station built over where his new maidan used to be. 

This was getting a little ridiculous, he thought. He felt it was personal now, that god or the government had written his name down so that they remembered to specifically torture him every few days. How many goddamn Metro stations did a city need? 

He walked up to the nearest yellow jacketed, yellow hat-ted fellow and asked, with a little more anger this time, what the fuck was this.

It was that grin again, the one approved on an email thread, and the response was similar. “It’s a Metro Station! It will ease traffic congestion by 13% and reduce commuter travel time by 39%. Isn’t that amazing?” 

It wasn’t amazing, and this time Vasant wanted to do something about it. He’d go to the police, he’d go to the Prime Minister, he’d go to the King of the Universe, whatever it took, he’d go meet a responsible authority and demand that they crush the station being built. He’d even offer to help. He’d be their most enthusiastic labourer, single handedly finishing a job meant for a few hours in just a few minutes. 

But first he went to his mother. She was equally shocked to hear about what she believed to be an attack on her son, a targeted assault on her boy’s path to glory, and she wasn’t going to stand for it. His father too was as enraged. He slammed his newspaper on the table and swallowed his hot tea down in a single gulp to get out and confront and defy the animals who’d dare stand in the way of his son and his sport. 

They decided to go along with Vasant to the station and create a ruckus. But they weren’t as fit as their son, of course. The only fitness exercises they performed were hanging off, or squeezing into, overcrowded trains. Vasant’s father enjoyed the crush in fact, believing that the force of the entire city on his body as he clung on for dear life everyday on his journey home would deflate his potbelly more and more. 

But they couldn’t walk all the way to the ground. Their legs would buckle and the heat would roast them. So, much to Vasant’s chagrin, they took the Metro that stood on the old maidan to get to the new station that stood on the new maidan. 

As soon as they entered the Metro, Vasant’s parents were astounded. The seats were so much cleaner than those of the train’s, and ah, the air conditioning was a real boon in these heat waves. Sure, it might have been more expensive than travelling on a train, but the experience was stupendous. They stared wide-eyed at every station they stopped at, saw the humongous platforms and the fancy tiling on them, the chic way in which the station names were written on their big green boards, and the large advertising posters that were imploring them to buy products they couldn’t afford. And when the lady who announced the next stations over the PA system spoke in a foreign sounding accent, it really sealed the deal for them. 

By the time they stepped out and arrived at their destination, the parents had forgotten why they had travelled all that way. So enamoured were they by the architecture of the stations and the trains that they didn’t have the necessary belief to fight this battle for Vasant anymore. What was worse, the new station they arrived at was the best one yet. Its ceilings seemed to go past the clouds, and its floors were so clean, they could see their reflections through them. 

“This will show the World that our city is a modern city,” said Vasant’s father while swiping his fingers on the edge of a bench to see how much dust and bird shit would stick to it - nothing did. As far as he was concerned, this was the future. 

“There are so many maidans in the city,” said his mother when they stepped out. She was taking pictures of the station from various different angles and sending it to the fifty WhatsApp groups she was a part of. Vasant watched all of this happen in real time, he saw the unspooling of his parents’ priorities right in front of him, the love for their son making way for the conveniences of the city. There was no protest by him and his family on that day, there was no confrontation nor were there any angry fingers being pointed at the scoundrel decision makers. 

Even though it was expensive, his parents took the Metro ride back home to experience the grandeur of it all one last time, knowing full well they might not be able to afford more of them. Vasant stayed back and roamed a bit more to look for another maidan. This was a lone battle, he realised, his destiny was his to make. Let them make more Metro stations, a thousand more Metro stations, but they weren’t going to stop him from being the best left arm fast bowler the world had ever seen.

He found a new maidan eventually. Of course he did. This city was teeming with them, virtually overflowing with maidans where thousands of children spent hours and hours trying to weave their own futures, ignite their own dreams, or sometimes just pass the time. In a city otherwise so packed and noisy and dirty and depressing, the maidan was where citizens, especially children, were allowed to spread their arms wide, look up at the sky, and dream. 

He practised and practised, even though this maidan was a little further up ahead, which meant a little more walking and an even earlier alarm, and after the initial hiccup adjusting, he was back again, gathering crowds, threatening batsmen, securing his future. This time however, it wasn’t even two weeks before a Metro station appeared on this one. 

“Another one?” he shouted, his mind still not able to process how many people travelled in this city. 

“9% less traffic congestion! 25% less travel time!” said another man in a yellow hat and yellow jacket. There seemed to be countless number of these sorts of men, ready to deliver bad news in the happiest possible way. 

This time, Vasant had to take all of this a lot more seriously. He went to his cool Uncle Bunty, who he found sitting against another person’s motorcycle, shades on as usual, smoking a cigarette with one hand and eating a samosa with another. When Vasant told him about his ordeal, Uncle Bunty was outraged. He threw his cigarette down and stomped on it until its ashes were branded onto the cement; he swallowed the last bite of his samosa, and then pushed his shades up even higher and harder into the bridge of his nose. He meant business. 

Holding his nephew’s hand, he stomped through the city, shoving people who dared stand in his way, stopping traffic with a single arm pointed at the sky to cross the road without resistance. Even the heat, otherwise so suffocating and brutal, bounced right off his body. He was the only man in the city that day who did not spill a single drop of sweat. 

As his Uncle dragged him across roads, trains, cars and buses, Vasant couldn’t help but smile along the entire time. No more did he feel like he’d have to ride over whatever diversions his destiny threw at him - he was back to building his own roads now. For the first time in weeks, he felt in control. With his Uncle by his side, there was no way his path to greatness would be obstructed anymore. What he didn’t know was where exactly his Uncle was taking him. 

“I’m taking you to the Mayor of the city. She makes all the decisions. It’s time we showed her a piece of our mind.” His Uncle snarled that last bit, which gave Vasant even more confidence. Not only were they going to ensure they tore down those ugly stations, but they were going to make them grow new grass for new maidans. The decision makers were going to bow down and recognise what they were giving up on, whose future they were toying with, and then they would repent and repay. Vasant walked into the Mayor’s office with his chest out, inflating it as much as he could have, as big as a maidan if he could have. 

But there was a long queue. Hundreds of citizens came here to make their problems known, and the two had to wait. First for an hour, then two, and soon the sun too began its gradual descent into the night. Vasant’s chest had deflated a significant amount, but Uncle Bunty’s passion remained strong.

“NEXT!” shouted the person at the door that led to the Mayor’s office. It was their turn and they both got up enthusiastically. “Oh, you again,” said the person at the door when they saw Uncle Bunty walk towards the door. Vasant didn’t know what to make of that. 

The Mayor’s office wasn’t grand like how Vasant expected it to be. There wasn’t an air conditioner, for example, but a standing fan at the corner of the room that noisily reared its head left and then right and then left and then right. It blew papers all over the office, like a tornado of documents, but the Mayor couldn’t care less. What mattered to her was what happened to land at her desk, or whoever was sitting opposite her. 

Bunty and Vasant confidently sat on the two plastic chairs provided to them. The Mayor though had her big swivel chair turned around. They could barely hear her voice through the thick fabric of the backrest, but she ensured they could see her alarmingly expressive right hand emerging out of the side. It communicated more than what her words could tell. 

When they sat down, for example, and Bunty introduced himself to her, the hand limped downwards, lazy, exhausted, as if to say: “oh, you again.” 

“My nephew’s future is being thrown to the dogs because of your useless Metro construction. With every station that you build over a maidan, you’re losing the potential of the best young fast bowler India has seen in years.” 

She didn’t say anything for some time. Her hand too remained the same, limp and lifeless, like it had better problems to deal with than this. For every second she remained silent, another inch of that inflated chest of Vasant’s was punctured. He looked at his Uncle Bunty for reassurance, but there was not much he could get through the deep black sunglasses that enveloped his eyes. Was he asleep, was he awake? Unless he spoke, there was no way of knowing. 

Finally, she lifted a finger. Just her index finger, and Uncle Bunty gulped. He was awake. 

“Have you not explained to your nephew?” Her voice was tough, and she spoke with force. Vasant also gulped. 

“Explained what?” Vasant asked carefully.

“That the Metro stations will reduce traffic congestion by 27% and decrease passenger travel time by 19%?” 

Uncle Bunty looked ashamed. He shook his head. 

“And did you not tell him that there are hundreds of other maidans in the city?” 

Uncle Bunty shook his head again. 

“Do you both hate the city?” 

“No, ma’am,” the two of them squeaked. 

“Do you hate the people of this city?” 

“No, ma’am,” they said again. 

She didn’t say anything else. There was silence again. Only the sound of the fan and the paper it was blowing here and there. A small fly buzzed in and landed on Uncle Bunty’s nose, but he was too afraid to swat it away. 

The Mayor reached down under her desk and picked up a transparent plastic bag. In it was a yellow jacket and a yellow hat. She threw it at Uncle Bunty. “You wanted a job? This is your job now. Remember the data and inform the people who doubt it. Do well, and who knows? Maybe you’ll work here one day. But for god’s sake, stop coming here again and again and wasting my time.” 

Uncle Bunty grabbed the bag with all his energy and began thanking her profusely. “And show the boy the maidans in the city. The best fast bowler in the world will be the best fast bowler anywhere.” 

With that, she snapped her fingers suddenly and the door behind them immediately opened. Uncle Bunty got up and ushered Vasant out. 

Outside, Vasant was still trying to process what happened in the office. The two walked out, side by side, in silence. They walked back the way they came. Vasant hadn’t noticed it on the way to the Mayor’s office, distracted perhaps by the euphoria that had got a hold of him, but there were construction sites everywhere, all building Metro stations and Metro lines, some in the sky and some underground. Whichever direction he turned his eyes, he saw a station under construction.

“Isn’t this inconvenient?” he wondered out loud. 

“It’s not inconvenient. It’s 30% less traffic congestion, and 48% less travel time for passengers.” Vasant looked towards his Uncle Bunty, who was already in his yellow jacket and yellow hat, extolling the virtues of this interconnected city, where everyone could get anywhere, from station to station. For the first time, Vasant also saw his Uncle without his shades on. His eyes were wrinkled, exhausted, and there were tears welling up. There was so much of it, it was a wonder he could see clearly. 

He was excited to start his new job, he told his nephew, and then held his hand again and led him through the city. This time, Vasant wasn’t as enthusiastic. He had to be dragged across. Uncle Bunty led him down a long route, some lined with trees, some with buildings, but mostly with more Metro stations until he found a tiny gap to squeeze through between two recently constructed stations. The other side opened up to another maidan. 

“Your destiny will be fulfilled here,” he told his nephew. He wished him luck and walked back to the nearest Metro station where he could restart his life. Vasant, now entirely deflated, a flaccid balloon, sucked dry of any joy, shrugged and put on his boots. He went to the nearest pitch and began practising again. 

A few days later, another Metro station was inaugurated where the maidan used to be. This time, Vasant did not flinch. He turned around and found the next ground he could play at and continued his training. This happened a few more times. Every few weeks another maidan was sacrificed for the cause of greater connectivity. And the more maidans that were taken over, the more crowded the remaining ones got. 

Apart from having to travel farther and farther to practice, Vasant had less and less time to actually bowl. Long lines of children began to form at the nets, some to bowl and some to bat. If Vasant were lucky, he’d get to bowl ten balls in a day. They’d be stunning balls of course, but he wasn’t going to be the best fast bowler in the World like this. 

It was when the fourth or fifth maidan was taken over by another station when Vasant decided to take action. He had thought about it a long while ago, somewhere between the second and third maidans being overtaken, but hadn’t been prepared to do it up until that point. 

He woke up in the morning as usual, and dressed up in his whites like he normally did. He picked up his shoes and the rest of his kitbag, and tiptoed out. Rather than go to a new maidan though, he went back towards his own one, the one he grew up on, where the story of his great destiny began. 

He saw the Metro station that now stood there, its walls already turning an unpleasant brown. All the city’s toxicants, its muck, its garbage had all already begun to stick to its walls. The ticket counter on the first floor was empty. It was still about an hour away before the morning rush began. The station was only occupied by the lousy drunkards who were at the end of their binge. 

He bought a ticket and climbed up to the platform. The electronic board informed that the next train was expected to arrive in less than two minutes. Vasant sat down on a bench and put on his shoes. He reached into his bag and pulled out a new shiny cricket ball, which was a startling red against the early morning hue; a ten-rupee coin and a single stump. 

One minute for the train to arrive. Vasant climbed down onto the tracks. The early morning employees were still too sleepy to notice, and the drunkards at that point were anyway finding it hard to tell the difference between what was real and what wasn’t.

Forty-five seconds for the train to arrive. Vasant first fixed the stump between two bolts on the metal and let it stand in the middle of the tracks. He then placed his ten-rupee coin a few yards ahead of it. He walked further behind, all the way closing his eyes and visualising exactly where he had placed the coin and manifesting exactly what he’d do to hit it. 

20 seconds for the train to arrive. Vasant turned around. He opened his eyes and saw the train rushing towards the wicket. He took a deep breath and then began to run. 

10 seconds for the train to arrive. Vasant ran gazelle-like, wind in his hair, approaching the imaginary crease he had painted on the ground, and then jumped, high, mighty, beautiful, landed back softly on his feet and rolled his shoulders to deliver the fastest ball he could. The bright red ball landed right in the centre of the coin, and then leapt right up and hit the top of the stump, knocking it off the tracks before the train could. 

The Mayor personally visited when she came to inaugurate the renaming of the platform after Vasant’s name a few weeks later. She ordered for the coin he left behind to be branded onto the tracks to remind the people that this was a city that never gave up on its dreams. 

Now that the platform was a tourist attraction though, ticket prices would be hiked.

Prthvir Solanki is a Goa-based writer whose work spans across fiction and non-fiction for both print and the screen. He is a fellow with the SouthAsia Speaks Fellowship 2022. He is currently writing his first book of short stories. He is not afraid of the proliferation of AI technology. For now.

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