I was on the Memo train that runs between Kanpur and Lucknow. Next to me was a 12-year-old girl with her parents facing us. Every few minutes, she rose to whisper something into her parents’ ears. But each time they seemed to tell her to sit down. I took a sidelong glance at her. She was looking impatient, with beads of sweat dotting her face on a windy day.
A few minutes later, her mother rose to take her weeping daughter into her arms. Other passengers became curious at the sight of the weeping girl. And then we realised why she was in tears. She wanted to go to the toilet but there were no toilets provided in the Memo trains. The poor girl had relieved herself in her salwar.
In my initial days as a ‘daily passenger’, I had no idea that the Memo train did not have toilets. One evening while leaving my office, I felt my stomach ache. I decided to visit the toilet in the train if the need arose. As time passed, a storm in my belly started to brew. I steered through passengers standing in the way towards the gate where toilets were usually situated. But there was no toilet in sight.
On asking a passenger, I learnt that the Memo trains on the Lucknow-Kanpur line did not have toilets. I curled up in various poses to calm myself and my body down. At the first station that the train halted, I got down and rushed to the nearest lavatory.
The platform shauchalaya was hellishly filthy. Across the platform were green fields. I strode towards them nervously. I asked a boy prodding cattle if there was a pond nearby. Thank god, it wasn’t far. I did the needful behind the bushes skirting the pond.
Dear Railway Mantriji Lalu Prasad Yadav, will you please let us know how long one needs to have a tantric control over one’s bowels to travel on an Indian Railways train that has no toilet? We’ll prepare ourselves accordingly.