We arrived at the station an hour early before the scheduled departure of the Hussainsagar Express. That was because we started too early from home dreading the traffic on the route to the Begumpet station. And the result? We reached the platform to find it half empty thanks to the all-for-the-first-time smooth traffic on the highway. I, on the other hand, was feeling quite low. I had come to the station to bid farewell to my cousins. They were going back to Mumbai.
The station had a marvelous view what with all the greenery spread around the boundaries and local trains arriving every 10 mins. The hustle and bustle was seen over the platform on the arrival of the locals. Veeru got really exited such times and I was fascinated whenever any engines went rushing past. The familiar sound of the engines and their big and huge structure has always been thrilling to me. In my childhood, my grandfather used to take me and my brother to the station regularly to watch the trains. We used to whoop and scream in delight on seeing trains moving fast on the tracks, compartments and coolies. We used to count the number of bogies of every goods train. The idea of a small home inside red and blue compartments was exiting to us. Whenever we were at the train-crossings on the highways, we used to wave madly at the rushing trains and became delighted if any passenger waved back!!
I came out of my reverie when my mother shook me a little. The new announcement at the station was referring to the position of the compartments of our train on the platform. What the hell! Don’t they display that on the LED displays hanging above? I looked up and swore loudly. There was no power supply. Hence no LED displays. What a mess! Why can't they have the generator back-up? Now we would have to run for our compartment number when the train arrived.And that was going to be on the platform only for two minutes. I alerted my mother and cousins. They in turn became ready with their bags firmly in their hands. All the passengers, who were sitting and standing quietly on the platform, were moving hurriedly now. Bags were bumped into each other. After a lot of excuse me’s, passengers bagan jostling along the platform.
After 2 mins, the railway announcer made the final announcement. Hussainsagar Express would be arriving shortly at platform no. 1. And after 5 more mins, the train arrived very slowly. Like a sea-wave hitting a coast, our train engine went past us taking our compartment away from us. We ran.
After a lot of pushing, we managed to get inside the coach S-5 and found the seats. My mother and I came out of the train for it would be starting in 2 mins. I came to the window of the compartment. Prachi held my hand and Pooja smiled broadly on account of having boarded the train successfully. Veeru had also occupied his favorite window seat already. The compartment was already too full to move inside properly without stamping someone’s foot. My eyes were close to tears but I refrained from crying out loud. But the scene around me was more like a bollywood film.
There were huggings, hurried good-byes and a lot of weeping’s around. After what seemed like 10 secs, the train started moving. Prachi did not let go of my hand. I started to move with the train. Laughing and crying, she let go of me. My hand was still stretched out in air for some time before I realized that they were free. I kept waving and running till she was not able to be seen. The train rounded a corner and was gone. I stood over there for some seconds. I heard my name being shouted and looked back. My mother was standing a long way back, her pink salwar-kameez distinguishable from other passengers around her. I started towards her, away from my train, away from the childhood fantasy, towards my reality. Exams! I had to yet start preparing for that!!