सुकेश साहनी
रामेश्वर काम्बोज 'हिमांशु'


"Haven't I told you? The train is late by six hours," said the station Master. " It won't come before that anyway; now go.....you have been pestering me since yesterday."
"Babu ji, don't be angry," said the village woman with joined hands. "I am very perturbed; it is three days since my son left the home....he should have returned by yesterday. It's the first time he went out all alone."
"But why did you send the boy all alone in the first place?" touched by her pitiable solicitude, he asked.
"I must have lost my head." She was on the verge of crying. "The boy is fatherless. I meet the household expenses by weaving carpets. He had been insisting since the last few days that he, too, would do some work. He left with a basketful of roasted grams."
"Don't be upset....he will come back," the stationmaster consoled her.
"Babu ji, he is very plain and uninformed. He doesn't even sleep alone.....he sleeps in my bed with me. O my God! How would he have spent the last two nights! It is so cold and he has no wollen clothes with him." She started sobbing.
The station master had resumed his routine. She began walking restlessly up and down the platform. Darkness and silence had completely engulfed that small station in the rural section. She had decided in her mind she would never again let her baby-boy be away from by himself.
At long last, the passenger train came up jingling noisily and stopped at that dismal, God-forsaken station. She was intently looking with bated breath towards the carriages.
A shadowy from looming out of the darkness came running towards her. From nearness she saw...a straight stiff neck....big confident eyes....tight jaws....a thin line of smile on the lips....
"Ma, You shouldn't have come here at this late hour in the night." The grave, anxious voice of her son entered her ears.
She remained dumbfounded for a while and appeared to be disbelieving her eyes. How has her son grown so big in these three days?



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