He alighted on the seat & the train soon pulled out of the station.
He was half asleep when the Ticket checker nudged him.Vincent drawled "Whats it?"
"Ticket please" callously replied the TT. Vincent flaring resentment in his eyebrows, drew the ticket out of his wallet. The TT thoroughly inspected it.
"What an imbecile red-nosed fellow!" thought Vincent.
After handing him over the ticket, the TT left & Vincent relapsed into his seat with a magazine.
Soon, the dusk was overpowered by a dark murky night.It was around midnight when the train again slowed down for a screeching halt. Vincent rubbed sleep off his eyes to check what station that was. He opened the rusty window & peeped out where he could see a dimly-lit board on which it was written "ZAMANIA" . The station boasted a single tea-stall & a few stray dogs. The place showed no signs of passengers. Vincent sat back calmly & then he heard the sturdy footsteps that were becoming louder with each moment. A lean haggard man barged into his compartment. The man was tall in his early fifties ,bearing a pale face & dark smoldering impatient eyes.
The man sat & after sometime,he clenched a cigarette in between his lips & puffed little clouds of smoke. Vincent noticed an eerie equanimity in that man. The train again pulled out & changed it's rhythm.
Vincent spoke for the first time trying to break the ice "Uncle!Where's your journey up to?"
The man smiled & said "Just four stations after,I shall dislodge"
Vincent wandered what the man had been doing so late at night at such an awful place like "Zamania"
The man was peering at Vincent through his silver rimmed specs that made Vincent feel uncomfortable. He again made an attempt to break the smothering uneasiness & said "Uncle! Where's your baggage?"
The man mumbled "I don't have any, my child!"
"Why??" retorted Vincent.
The man sighed "I met an accident my dear. Fortunately,I stayed unhurt but all my luggage got crushed under a lorry.It was God's mercy that I had money to buy myself a ticket to my hometown."
"Oh! Good Lord,you are unhurt!" exclaimed Vincent's concerned voice.
The man again continued "Child,would you please do me a favor?"
Vincent said "What's it Uncle? If I can be of any help,I would try my best"
The man slid his slender hands into the chest pocket of his check shirt & pulled out a folded piece of paper . He unfolded it & said "Child,this is a cheque of 5000 Rs,I want you to give this to FATHER RYAN OF ST.JONES CATHEDRAL"
Vincent intervened "You mean ST.JONES CATHEDRAL AT KATHGODAAM?"
The man said "Exactly,my child!"
Vincent again questioned "But,how did you know that Kathgodaam is my destination?"
The man gave a weary smile "Just a wild guess!"
Vincent tried to hush up his curiosity with a broad grin.
The man continued "Father Ryan runs an orphanage & I want you to hand him over this petty donation on my behalf."
Vincent said "But,why do you want me to do this, even you can , can't you? "
The man sneered at Vincent & regained his calm "Child, I don't have money for Kathgodaam & I have some urgent work that shall keep me on my toes.Please don't let me down"
The man sprang to his feet & sat next to him "You are a good soul.I know, you won't let me down,will you?"
Vincent nodded a "YES" & suddenly the impatience in the man's molten eyes vanished.His pale face glistened. He handed over the cheque to him.
Vincent quizzed "But, whats your name Uncle? "
The man muttered "John Acosta" & fell silent.
Vincent woke up the next morning,he saw the watch & it was 7.He started collecting his things & the train drew closely into the Kathgodaam station.Vincent dislodged the train & suddenly he remembered that cheque & that man. "John Acosta must have dislodged when I was asleep" thought Vincent.
He hired an auto & went to St.Jones Cathedral.He walked across a cemetery, entered the church & came across a white robed man.
Vincent asked "Father Ryan?"
The man said "Yeah ,my son!"
Vincent pulled out the cheque from his wallet & handed it over to him.Father Ryan looked at it intently & asked "Who gave you this my child? "
Vincent replied "This is a donation for your orphanage by a man called John Acosta who gave me this last night & asked me to hand this over to you"
Father Ryan gaped & stuttered "W....WHO? J...JOHN ACOSTA?"
Vincent nodded "Is everything alright Father?"
Father Ryan's trembling voice said "He's DEAD! He died a few months back in a road accident!"
Hearing this, a chill went down Vincent's spine & he shuddered "You mean, I met the dead?"
Father Ryan said "May be son!"
Vincent retorted "But, why did he choose ME?"
Father Ryan held Vincent's cold & numb hands & said " Child! God has a purpose behind everything.You may be a good soul & hence John Acosta's choice for this noble cause. He wanted you to be his MESSENGER"
John Acosta's words "You are a good soul" reverberated in Vincent's ears & a long sepulchral silence engulfed the two of them.