The delayed train


Once it so happened in 1989 that my mother was coming to Bombay after many years after she had settled in our home town in Thrissur. She was coming by train and in those days it was the Kanyakumari Jayanthi Janatha train that used to ferry people from Kerala to Mumbai. It was a good 36 hour journey. Thanks to the Konkan railway this journey has been cut down to 26 or even less.

The train was to reach Victoria Terminus later renamed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) by 6 am and I was late to reach the station to receive her. Upon arrival, I came to know the train had diverted from its route and would take one more day due to a goods train derailment. In those days, there was no way you could communicate. So I came back the next day at around 9:30 am to the station again. At the station, I came to know that the train was reaching Kalyan and would take one more hour to reach. I had my brother in law in tow this time with me to receive her. The train had a halt at Dadar station before it would slowly wind it’s way into CST Main station.

I was thinking of how my mother would be feeling. Here she was stepping into Mumbai after 5 long years and would be wondering if we would be there at the station to receive her. Moreover she like other passengers in the train would be really tired since the journey was now into its 50th hour. It was then a thought struck my mind. What if I catch up with her and the train at Dadar station during its 2 minute halt there. I knew her compartment and it would take maybe one minute maximum of running around to locate hers. In those days and even now on most express trains, compartments or bogies are not connected internally. In another 30 to 40 minutes, the train would reach Dadar station and without wasting a minute, I told my brother to stay put at CST while I would take a chance to catch the train at Dadar. I quickly booked a ticket and caught a train from the Central railway platform and fancied my chances.

Within 25 mins or so, I got down at Dadar and waited for the Express train which would arrive at another platform in a couple of minutes. As you know the express trains take their sweet time while stopping at a station and therefore by the time it had stopped, I was able to locate the compartment. Dashing inside after the few passengers had got down, I started my search for her at the seats and finally I found her. When she looked up and saw me, I could sense the surprise and wonder in her eyes to see me. How come? was what came up to her lips first. I sat down and reassured her that everything was fine and we would coast together to CST. I had taken only a one way ticket to Dadar. The return journey till the CST platform was a free ride. We caught up with my brother in law waiting at the far end of the station and as we walked towards him, the ticket checker asked us to show our tickets. She showed her ticket and was worried what I would do now. I put my hands into my pocket and fished out my platform ticket which I had purchased at CST an hour ago in my initial plan to receive her…

I thought of posting this just to reiterate that whenever good thoughts come to you to help someone in distress, do not hesitate to take the risk. You would be glad you took it to come out winning at The End.

26 thoughts on “The delayed train

  1. I love this story for so many reasons – it gives me a huge smile, being a mom myself and then yes being optimistic and authentic intention always finds ways magically in perfect timing for every moment and choice to happen. Train journeys and no phone communications are such precious memories growing up.

  2. Who cares about the free ride but I am glad you decided to meet her at Dadar. It would have meant a lot to her. The assurance of seeing someone known in those days was beyond imagination.

  3. This refreshed my memories of those long train journeys from north of India to Chennai. Long those used to be yet we felt carefree. No tension of watching luggage with hawk eyes and we could have complete faith on our co-passenger. I can feel that pleasant surprise and joy of your mother.

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