THE NIGHT TRAIN AT DEOLI
My Favourite Short Story
I love reading short stories. You can read a short story in one sitting and it immediately fills you with an exquisite sense of satisfaction.
I love writing short stories too, and I am sure you have read many of my short stories in my blog.
Dear Reader, let me tell you about my all time favourite short story – The Night Train at Deoli by Ruskin Bond.
The Night Train at Deoli is a beautiful story of unrequited love.
Each one of us has experienced this wonderfully painful emotion of unrequited love.
Dear Reader, I am sure you too have experienced the delightful heart-ache of longing, yearning – an alluring attraction for someone who is out of reach – a one way love – a love unreciprocated. Well I am quite familiar with the delicate tenderness of unrequited love; in fact, my life story is a story of unrequited loves.
The Night Train at Deoli is narrated in first person by a college boy who travels by the night train from Delhi to Dehra Dun every year to spend his summer vacations at his grandmother’s place. On its journey up the hills of the terai, early in the morning, the train stops at Deoli, a lonely station in the wilderness... “Why it stopped at Deoli. I don’t know. Nothing ever happened. Nobody got off the train and nobody got in…and then the bell would sound, the guard would blow his whistle, and presently Deoli would be left behind and forgotten” – isn’t the description brilliant, so breathtaking in its simplicity.
On one such journey the boy sees a girl at Deoli, selling baskets, and is smitten by her… “I sat up awake for the rest of the journey. I could not rid my mind of the picture of the girl’s face and her dark, smouldering eyes”.
He looks out for her on his return journey and is thrilled when he sees her… “I felt an unexpected thrill when I saw her…I sprang off the foot-board and waved to her. When she saw me, she smiled. She was pleased that I remembered her. I was pleased that she remembered me. We were both pleased, and it was almost like a meeting of old friends”…superb writing, isn’t it…simply superb.
It is time for the train to leave, and for the lovers to part… “I felt the impulse to put her on the train there and then…I caught her hand and held it… ‘I have to go to Delhi,’ I said…she nodded, ‘I do not have to go anywhere.’…the guard blew his whistle…and how I hated the guard for doing that…”
Beautifully poignant, marvellously written, touches the very fragile chords of your heart, isn’t it?
I will not tell you the rest of this story, but I can assure you, that if you are a lover at heart, you will be touched with compassion for the protagonist and as the story elevates you to the romantic mood you will relate your very own tale of unrequited love.
Though The Night Train at Deoli is my all time favourite, I like many stories in this anthology, especially, The Woman on Platform 8, His Neighbour’s Wife and Death of a Familiar.
If you are a lover of the fiction short story I am sure you have this delightful book; if you don’t, do get a copy for your bookcase to delve into whenever you are in a blue mood nostalgically yearning for your unrequited love.
[The Night Train at Deoli and other Stories by Ruskin Bond – Book Review by Vikram Karve]