The three men took their seats near one another. As the first one prayed for a safe journey, the second took a blank look at him. The third man let out a chuckle of contempt.
As soon as the prayers got over, he gave the third man, who sat against him, a stern look. Then, with his eyebrows raised, searching for acceptance, he looked at the other man. But that man looked undecided. Feeling the pressure of the four eyes upon him, the first man decided to let the cat out of the bag.
"I am a theist," his voice authoritative, "and you are an atheist, I suppose."
The third man nodded with a wry smile, curving the ends of his lips into a wrinkle upwards.
"And the days of the devil are upon us."
The wry smile vanished upon the unfriendly remark. The atheist felt the inside of his cheeks with his tongue.
"You still believe in fairies!"
"It is because of people like you that God chastens all men. You will bring his wrath upon us all."
The nod of the theist's head in penitence spurred his rival. As the sarcasm that was brooding over his face faded, the atheist pulled himself forward and bent, resting on his knees.
"And, it is because of ignorant men like you that decent conversations have become wanting."
The theist straightened up in alertness as the gibe inspired anger within his heart.
"How dare you say so?"
"Because I am not afraid of you or your creation. God."
"God created man. Not the other way."
"That is what fools, who barely know to spell science, say."
"Imbeciles, we may be. For in the eyes of the devil are men of god so."
"Seriously now. Do you have patents and copyrights for these creations of yours? God and Devil? Or are they free to be used?"
"Don't mock the King of all men or you shall molder in hell."
"And I thought this God of yours was merciful."
"He is. And that is what keeps you alive. Alive to change your path towards truth."
"Path towards an asylum, you mean."
Fuming with rage, the theist looked to switch off. As more and more rage made way to his head, he found it hard to think.
"Why do you guys still believe in fairy tales of God?"
A look towards the now serene and pitying face of the atheist calmed the man down. His rage subsided. He turned his view outside the window. His eyes were fixed on a large rock far away from their train, looking stagnant. A small light lit on his face.
"You men propose and believe in stupid theories of man coming from monkeys and universe being born from the destruction of a large ball, and you call the truth as a fairy tale."
The meagre pity in the man deserted him. His look was straight. He up righted himself and wore a thoughtful face.
"I have read the holy scripts thrice and I still believe the scientific evidences backing these theories. You are the guys, blind to the truths of the world, fighting and waging wars to prove yourselves as the greatest."
"Wars are fought, for men disregard the teachings of God. Because they forget that love is what God edicts. And the greatest weapons were not the creations of God. Science and men created them."
"It depends on the men who hold the object. A knife can also be used to murder. Holding the knife or its creator as convicts is madness."
"I never knew that nuclear weapons can be used to slice breads and spread butter."The theist was strongly gesticulating and frowning as he spoke. The other man was not much different. The gesticulations set them apart. But there was the third man, whom the others barely noticed, staring in bewilderment at the two contenders with noting more than a slight doubt on his face.
"Religion was superceded by science and that has brought more pain than gain to this world. We did not create vehicles to pollute the air. What right do we have to stop the birth of a God given child? What sin did it do to die before birth?"
The atheist hurriedly interjected as soon as the sentence came to an end.
"Science has facilitated lives. There may have been some side effects. But that is negligible compared to the benefits."
"No. It has inflicted beastly characters within men. Because of the so called facilities that it offers, men have become savages; brutes, who go in sprees of sexual indulgence; wandering devilishly with conviction over contraception."
Atheist looked outside. At the speed at which the train moved, he was unable to clearly fix eyes on anything that was beside it. He was searching for something outside. Perhaps for some words to counter. He then returned with a calm demeanour.
"To say that religion has nothing to do with wars is to propose your heliocentric theory. The fights fought have been innumerable. There have been endless interreligious wars, intra-religious fights, riots and massacres. Why do you want to hide your sexuality? It is because of you guys that people are so inclined towards sex. A child born at a wrong place, at a wrong time and to wrong persons will suffer. Why should it go through such trauma?"
Glistening eyes of the atheist fixed upon the rivals face. A tinge of smile escaped the edges of his lips. Even if he had not converted his rival, he expected that he surely had converted the third guy. He sneaked a look at him.
"The Architect of fate would have better plans for the child. God never forsakes his children. We are minor beings. We do not know of his webbed plans for mankind, his children. You atheists are too conceited to accept that you are lower beings. That is why you are out to defile the lucid minds."
"If he never forsakes his children why do people die around the world of starvation and illness? Why is there so much pain and trauma?"
"As I said we are minor beings. Too little to know everything. I am sorry but you men are too smug to accept your inferiority in the universe."
"No. You guys are smug and believe that you are too special in this vast universe. And you have even said that you are God's favourite and that he has created you similair to him. It is you who should be ashamed of egocentric preachings."
The personal remark aggravated the so far pent up ego and hatred. His face shrunk even more deeply as the atheist looked with disgust at the man in front of him. He turned his head and spit through the bars of the window. It was perceived as a personal insult, which was what he had intended. Both their eyes met.
Suddenly, at the same time, as though already decided, both turned towards the third man. Their eyebrows rose, questioning him of his allegiance.
He shifted his eyes between each other. His mind doubtful upon whether to be out with the truth, "I am agnostic," he confessed, razing the men's ego and their flight of fancy.
"That is the worst kind. You guys are just plain cowards, unable to accept truths and want to play it safe. Afraid that you will come under barrage."
The theist then completed, "Yes. Like the bats in the battle, waiting to join the winner; afraid to declare your piety. Shame on you."