Children of the Railways

  • Harbir K Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2014 09:19 IST

The train journey with my brother and sister had come after a long time. There was no direct flight from Delhi, so we had to go by this means from Kolkata to Rourkela, Odisha.

Excited to be together, we settled ourselves. Train journeys take us back a long way to childhood.

Our father was a bridge engineer in the Railways, so our house used to be near the tracks mostly, and we would play on the lines. As stations passed, we were all smiles. Suddenly, we shouted: “Kolaghat!” Oh my God, Kolaghat… takes us back more than 60 years.

Our father was posted there, and we use to go there in our summer and winter holidays from Ludhiana. We loved walking on its railway tracks and jumping on the wooden sleepers under the iron.

One day, we decided to walk to the next station, Kharagpur, have rasgullas that used to be sold at the platform and then come back by train. We took out some of our collective pocket money (we used to get only about Rs 5 a month). It took us a little more than an hour to reach Kharagpur. We ran towards the rasgulla stall and enjoyed the sweet. Now we were ready to go back. We saw the train at halt and rushed into the first-class cabin.

When the train moved, we started jabbering in excitement over what we had achieved. After about two minutes, the travelling ticket examiner arrived and asked us about our tickets and destination. We told him we didn’t have any ticket and that were going to Kolaghat. He seemed a sweet and understanding man. He asked us who we were and why didn’t we have ticket? We told him proudly: “Asi Railways de bachche han, ais karke sade kol ticket nahi hegi (We are children of the Railways, so we don’t have ticket). He gave us a smile and helped us get down at Kolaghat. We thanked him and moved to our home.

Enthusiastically, we shared the entire experience with our father, least expecting the scolding we got from him for travelling without ticket. That brought us down to earth but even today after more than 60 years of that incident, its memory brings a smile to our faces, because we continue to believe that we are children of the Railways.

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