This bridge is not taut. Definitely not taut enough for one of the longest in the country. Whenever any automobile bumps over the metal girders that connect any two concrete blocks, multiples of which make up the whole bridge, it shakes and around the middle it wobbles.
Once a couple who were standing there for ‘sightseeing’ had toppled over by one of such wobbles and both were rescued later by fishermen after they had drowned half. They had got on the bridge on a bike. They stopped halfway got off and were standing by the railing when a truck passed and shook the bridge. They couldn’t keep their balance. They should have been holding onto something. But they were not. Some say they were in an embrace when the wobble struck them and were swept right off their feet. Jagan believes they jumped and wobble was the nudge these indeterminate souls needed. Fished out alive with liters of yellow Ganges water in their bellies they just blamed the bridge to avoid criminal prosecution.
Another time a biker tore through the railing. Must have skidded on one of the girders. His fluffed out body was found two days later, brushing against the steps of Raniganj Ghat, fifteen miles downstream. Flies were swarming over the dead man’s open mouth. Blackened flesh was jutting out between the buttons of corpse’s shirt. The body turned over when the local dom was dragging it out by tying a loop around its neck. Most of the carrion on the back was eaten away by flesh eating fishes. Some say these fishes too were scraped off to be sold later in the local market. The dead man’s bike was retrieved a day earlier. It was a Yezdi Roadking.
Jagan claims this too was a deliberate jump off for Yezdis are too sturdy and heavy on the road to fly off like shattered glass shards. The rescued couple were riding a Splendour plus. The red bike had a bulky luggage box made of steel with a green color padlock on a rusted latch. The bike was loaded on a pick-up truck and brought to the local thana. From the sub-inspector’s table, through the main door that was brightly lit up by daylight against the dark interiors of the thana, half of the front wheel, fork and head lamp of bike were visible. Seated opposite to the sub-inspector, in still drenched clothes, the rescued man kept looking over his shoulders towards the bike. He was wearing a green shirt that looked almost black on being wet.
He had his hands clasped between his thighs. A lot of water had accumulated around his imitated north star sneakers. He kept his head pressed down as if there were springs in his neck and his shoulders were pushed up. His eyes were always on the table except for stealing a glance every now and then at his bike parked outside. The girl was wearing a dark green salwar suit. Embroidery work over the front half of salwar done with various colors of threads and beads only emphasized her sunken bosom.
Her nose was running. For a while she had her hands on the table, her thumbs pressed hard against the edge of the thick glass table top. After the sub-inspector had run his eyes over her a few times,she was sitting cross-armed and had clasped her upper arms tightly. When the couple came out of the station, the man looked at his bike; from luggage box to handle bars. It meant something to the sub-inspector who forthwith decided to keep the bike in his custody pending further investigations into the matter. The man of the couple was crestfallen. His eyes wouldn’t leave the luggage box as he started to plead with the sub-inspector to let go of his bike in a voice that seemed to be coming out of a squeezed larynx. The sub-inspector who was standing on the stairs that led inside the thana, looked down upon the man and thrusting out his paunch spat on his side. He had enormous sideburns and the skin of his face had black pockmarks. On his forehead a dark band of black ran from one end to another. He asked for the keys of the lock and the man started to tug at the girl’s dupatta. She was wearing the key in a chain around her neck. She looked up angrily at the sub-inspector who turned his eyes sideways. She once looked forlornly at the man who was now reaching out to her neck to get the key himself. She bowed her head again.
….To be continued