Conman co-passenger

Conman co-passenger

Dwelling upon spiritual matters in fluent Telugu, Naidu won Ravi's full trust.

Ravindranath boarded the Jammu Tawi Express at Pathankot with his missus and two children to catch the Grand Trunk Express at New Delhi to get to Vijayawada, his home town. Aside from Ravi – as we used to call him in our college friends’ circle – and his family, there was no one else in that small, first class compartment.

On a halt at the Ludhiana Junction, a youth of mesomorph habitus got into the same compartment, a handbag hanging from his shoulder, and flumped on a seat opposite to Ravi. Reclining on it for a while, he introduced himself to Ravi as Naidu, a lecturer in a college at Vijayawada and added that he, too, was heading there following a visit to the Vaishno Devi shrine.

Naidu, thereupon, began shooting the breeze with Ravi. Dwelling upon spiritual matters in fluent Telugu, the mother tongue of both, he in short order won the full trust and confidence of Ravi with his sweet-talk. Taking Naidu to be a gentleman, Ravi warmed up to him.

On the dot at 7 am, the train screeched to a halt at the New Delhi Junction. Ravi, who made a beeline for the first class waiting room with his family and Naidu in tow, left his clothes with the latter and dashed to the toilet. The wearer of the clothes enjoying cool showers in the bathroom and his family being inattentive to what he was upto, Naidu dipped into Ravi’s pant pocket and walked off with the loot, leaving the outfit with Mrs Ravi on the pretext that he was going out to buy cigarettes and would return soon. The swag was Rs 2,800, a tidy in the early years of the 1970s.

Back from bath and clad in a towel, Ravi asked his missus, “Where is Naidu?” “Leaving a word that he was going to buy cigarettes and would be back soon, he left a short while ago,” replied the mumsy lady handing the habiliments to her hubby. Finding his purse missing, Ravi rushed out of the waiting room and took a panoramic view of the petty stalls around the platform only to learn that Naidu was nowhere in the vicinity.

Possibilities of his onward journey appeared like a jigsaw puzzle as Ravi stood dazed for a moment, before recollecting that the stranger had ripped him off. Slouching his head in utter chagrin, he staggered back into the waiting room and clued in his better half of his big bloomer. To his good luck, the tickets we-re safe in the inner pocket of the trousers.

Ravi, remorseful and desperate, boarded the GT Express in the evening with his family. All ears to his miserable plight, some compassionate co-passengers assisted him with a few bucks. Commiserating with the distraught family, the fellow passengers volunteered to help them of their own volition without looking forward to refund of the amount.

Ravi learnt the hard way that we should never have a long spoon to sup with the devil during journeys by train.

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