Memory of my dreadful experience in a train journey


Memory of my dreadful experience in a train journey 

 

That was probably in 1954, when my cousin took me back home at Cochin (then), Kerala, India by train. I was then six years old, and my cousin was over ten years older than me who took me to Irinjalakuda, 40 miles away from Cochin. The dreadful  incident happened on our way back travelling by train. My cousin was very fond of celebrating colourful  Irinjalakuda church festival. I showed my enthusiasm in going with my cousin to Irinjalakuda church festival. My cousin persuaded  my parents to allow me to go with him, as it was a unique opportunity to meet other cousins, see the fireworks and church illumination. Those days I was more interested in travelling, especially by train than enjoying church festival. They agreed, and my father gave strict instructions on looking after me. I stayed a couple of days in my maternal grandparents house in the centre of Irinjalakuda. My cousin took me to the church on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon and I enjoyed the church processions, illuminations and fireworks. It was planned to return to Cochin on Monday and we bid farewell to my grandmother and left grandparents home. First we got a bus uniquely painted green going to Irinjalakuda railway Station. My cousin bought third class tickets in a passenger train going south to Mattancherry Halt station, from there we have to get another bus to get to my home at Cochin. The carriage of the train in which we got in at Irinjalakuda railway station was fairly busy, but we managed to get a seat. The train moved slowly belching black plumes of smoke, and I enjoyed watching the paddy fields. Unlike now, there was only a single track, and trains travelling in opposite direction cross each other at the short double track in each station. This strategic single track railway line between Shoranur to Cochin Harbour Terminus was built by the British Empire by the persuasion of then Maharaja. The train reached Chalakudy, which had only one platform. Those days,one can visualise collection of numerous logs of timber on the opposite side of the platform. Being a passenger train the stopping time in Chalakudy was very lavish. My cousin thought it is an ideal place to have a tea, and he went out of the carriage to the platform leaving me alone. I watched him disappearing in the crowd  on the platform. For my distress, suddenly the train shunted back, towards Irinjalakuda side, whereby I got restless, and agitated. The co-passengers were very considerate and tried to calm me down as I started to cry. After reversing two train lengths distance,the train then moved forwards,changed the track and stopped on the other side of the station with the view of the timber. There was no platform on the stopped side. I was eagerly looking outside towards the platform to get a glimpse of my cousin. There he was on the platform, he too found to be anxious and panicky. At the same time, an express train arrived whistling blocking our vision, stopped on the platform side of the station. It stopped there only for a few minutes and moved away north. Immediately, my cousin crossed the railway track, got into the carriage and hugged me.I have never felt such relief, and the co-passengers noticed my sigh of relief. Looking back, I feel it was really a horrible experience.

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