“Hurry up, Radha! We will miss the train again”, shouted Amma. Radha and her family were travelling from Lucknow to Bhopal on the Pushpak Express. This was an annual affair. Every year Radha and her family would visit her grandparents in Bhopal. As always, the last minute chaos to catch the train prevailed. Somehow they managed to get to the station with their entire luggage intact. It was an overnight train left Lucknow at around 22:00 hours and reached Bhopal the next day at around 5:00 hours.
The most relieving sight is when you reach the station late and find the train just entering the platform. They climbed on to the train alright. Having made their beds, they were all ready to call it a day. At the same time from the next compartment they heard loud giggling. It was Neha and her new found train friend Ridhima. Neha was travelling with her elder brother to her uncle’s wedding in Vidisha on the other hand Ridhima was travelling with her mother to meet her father who worked in Jhansi. They got talking in the train and now were chatting like two friends who have known each other for eternity now. They talked about school, friends and family. They exchanged their numbers.
Also, as it was a late night train not many people were eating .Train journeys are known for the scenic view outside but here there wasn’t any as they were travelling at night. This also meant more human interaction. So, when the below mentioned incident took place everyone’s attention was on the person. It had been a while since the train had started, and the TT had arrived. In his deep baritone he asked for the tickets. Soon a person travelling without ticket was discovered. He tried to bribe the TT. “Never in the history of my fifty years to train travel have I met an honest TT. This time, however, appears to be different”, the old grand ma in the compartment exclaimed. Surely it was different. The TT was stern with the man at fault and scolded him for offering him bribe. The defaulter had to get down at the next station.
A girl sat on the side berth timidly. It was her first vacation after joining college. It was also her first trip alone in a train. She felt quite scared after hearing many stories about what happens to girls who travel alone in trains. At the same time she was really excited to meet her family. She had come to Lucknow to study at IIM. Her name was Sara. However scary this journey also gave her a sense of independence,
In the next bogey, one could hear the soft whispers of aunties playing a game of cards. Soft whispers couldn’t diminish the excitement of their glittering eyes. They had forgotten about the time and were totally consumed in the game.
Next bogey had a clutter boisterous of students. It was their recreational-cum-educational trip to Sanchi. Without a doubt they all were more than excited. A group girls was playing Antakshri. Few boys were running through the aisles. Others were playing hand-cricket and such other games. In this noisy bogey sat an author who in spite of the commotion was deeply engrossed in his writing. This writing ironically had been inspired by these very kids. After looking at this bunch, he started thinking about his own days as a student and started writing about them. In the bogey next door were few senior citizens who were also travelling to Sanchi to visit the stupas.
Divided by coaches such as Sleeper Class, AC Three tier, AC Two tier and AC One tier, but united with the common zest of travelling were the five hundred travelers. Indian railway is the most extensive railway line in the world. It has the highest number of employees and customers. Millions and millions of dreams have been fulfilled and lived because of these trains. It’s a necessity for some and an adventure for others. But whatever the case be they have become an integral part of our lives.
The next day, Neha woke up only to find Ridhima gone. Her hand was still hanging in mid-air as they both have climbed to the upper berth and held hands before sleeping. The students had not slept at all but were now tired. Radha’s family was getting ready to get down as Vidisha was approaching and Bhopal would be here soon. It turns out the aunties had finally decided to sleep for some time and now were getting up. The author was done with his articles. Sara made it to Bhopal and felt a sense of relief.
However, she couldn’t sleep all night. As the station approached Radha and her brother began with their regular competition about who will spot grandpa first.
Everyone got off the train at Bhopal as it was the last station. Everybody went their own way. Everyone would soon get engrossed in their daily lives and would soon forget about the night in the train. Yet forthis one day a five hundred people shared a train journey.
Few years past, Radha still looks forward to her annual trips to Bhopal. Neha and Ridhima went on to be great friends and now were roommates in Mumbai. And yes, it all began in the train journey. The ladies had enjoyed their life’s sole trip by themselves and still cherish every minute of it. The students also on the other hand lived one the best memories of their school lives. Sara went on to make many more lone journeys by train. The author went on to receive great acclaim for his wonderful description of childhood.
Now, we realize that this journey was not just a journey it was a day well-lived in the lives of so many people. The train acted as a catalyst in creating memorable times for people. Common people travelling in a common train each with their own uncommon stories.