11 March 2016


Swinging Compartment:
Sanjoy was traveling alone from Rajaloka to Bhanjpur by this narrow gauge train (photo). He was hardly ten years old and needed a half ticket costing four paisa only. After Rajaloka station the next stoppage was at Budhamara. There was a stiff slope after a down ward track before the station, Budhamara. The train was traveling fast due to down ward gradient. After some time as the station was about to approach, the passengers noticed that the train was moving backwards. Then again it swung back and forth and came to a standstill. Most of the passengers were tribal people carrying with them saal leaves and dantoon sticks. No one realized that the engine had left behind two compartments including the guard van and had gone ahead and stopped at Budhamara.
The station master observed that half of the train has arrived minus the guard. He asked the engine driver what about the other compartments and the guard van? The engine driver was taken aback and realized the mistake. Actually the old styled connection between two compartments had given way leaving behind the other bogies. Sanjoy was enjoying the fun without realizing the danger involved. Luckily it was a single line and no other train was expected to come. All the passengers got down as the engine with its attached compartment came back slowly to take the rest of compartments and the passengers. The compartments were joined with sabai grass ropes*(photo) as no metallic wires were available in that forbidden place. No one complained over that omission or commission of railway department, it was taken as supportively as a tribal man takes to death of their near and dear ones. Everyone was laughing loudly as the train, Bangiriposi—Baripada express went ahead with its home ward journey. Sanjoy gets nostalgic when he remembers his childhood days of traveling alone in that toy train. Many nights Sanjoy would get up from sleep with wild dreams of a stranded compartment in the middle of a forest.
(That train service stared from 1905.Those days, parents used to leave their children to fend for them and learn the art of living. *Sabai grass ropes are unique to Mayurbhanj, Odisha, and a small scale industry)
Sanjoy Kumar Satpathy
PS: Train passing over Katra River. Sabai grass topes.

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