More than two decades back my father was transferred to a remote colliery called Umrer, about a couple of hours' drive from Nagpur. The three of us were supposed to join him by Geetanjali Express during our Pooja vacations. Forced by my grandfather to leave home approximately five hours before the scheduled departure time (and that was one of his more lenient days) with meticulously packed suitcases, which we kept on counting and ended up with different results every time when we waited for our entire batallion of relatives under the timeless boro ghori at Howrah Station.
Yes, we did survive that endless wait, with everyone asking us not to land on platforms or to take food from strangers. Funnily, Bollywood has made me see people miss trains while being at the bathrooms on platforms (I've never understood why people do that, actually, given that every compartment has four bathrooms, however filthy).
This story is not about trains, though. It is about what happened immediately after we reached Nagpur. My father was there, waiting. He received us, and together, escorted by a coolie, with marched to the nearest post-office and sent a telegram to my grandfather: REACHED SAFELY.
We didn't have a lot of options other than reaching safely: they had all seen us off at the station; the train didn't have an accident; it had reached on time; there was nothing on the newspapers about a train robbery. But still, the telegram had to be sent.
The telegrams have hence converted to phone calls (not a feasible option in those days; imagine waiting for hours after booking a trunk call, escorted by a coolie and luggages of all shapes and sizes) and emails with passage of time and advancement in technology; train accidents have given way to crashes, robberies to hijacks, staying back at platforms to missing a connecting flight.
But the summary remains the same: REACHED SAFELY, and shall continue to do so as long as my relatives exist; and we exist; and our children; and theirs.
BANNER CREDITS: RITUPARNA CHATTERJEE
A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
PHOTO CREDITS: ANIESHA BRAHMA
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.