MY UNFORGETTABLE TRAIN JOURNEY – Funny Short Story
The lovely black & white photograph presented by my son on our silver jubilee marriage anniversary, instantly brought back memories of my unforgettable train trip from Delhi to Hyderabad for my marriage and how I nearly missed the important day in my life.
I was transferred to Delhi just before my marriage and as usual getting leave was a big issue due to acute shortage of officers at the branch and after a lot of hassle I got my leave finally sanctioned just a few days before the marriage. However, as the marriage date coincided with the re-opening of schools after the summer vacation, there were no train tickets available and flying was beyond my reach during those days.
I explained my plight to one of my colleagues who instantly offered to help me in getting a reservation in one of the trains bound to Hyderabad. He advised me to book a ticket even if it is wait listed and promised to get the same confirmed by speaking to somebody in the Railway Board.
Thanking him profusely, for this memorable help, I promptly booked a first class ticket which was wait listed and informed my friend about the status. He reassured me that my ticket would get confirmed on the day of travel and I would be travelling in the VIP quota.
With my travel day approaching closer, I went on a shopping spree in Karol Bagh and bought lots of dresses for the marriage. On the day of travel, I carefully, packed all my purchases in half a dozen bags and reached New Delhi Railway station earlier, to ensure smooth travel. The ticket was not yet confirmed.
I again made a call to my friend who reassured that everything is fine and I would be travelling in VIP quota.
With half a dozen bags and no seat to sit, I boarded the 1st class compartment and waited at the toilet entrance impatiently, for the TTE to arrive and allot me a seat in coupe meant for VIP travellers. After all, my friend’s reach is up to the Railway Board. I expected the TTE to be extremely courteous as the reference is from the Railway Board and I am not an ordinary passenger! After an hour or so the TTE did arrive and I eagerly, thrust my ticket at him and asked him my for berth number. The TTE glanced at me and said the ticket is wait listed and I cannot travel in the train without reservation. Shocked at his reply, I again asked him to recheck the reservation chart and told him that I am supposed to be travelling in VIP quota. He gave me an impatient look and just repeated what he said earlier that since I am travelling without reservation I would not be allowed to travel in the reserved compartment and asked me to get down at the next station.
Assessing the gravity of the situation, I retracted and explained my plight that I am travelling for my own marriage and that I would miss my marriage date, if I do not reach Hyderabad the next day. The TTE appeared to be sympathetic at my predicament. He shoved me into a coupe and informed me that I can somehow travel during the day time but have to make my own arrangements to travel in the night. If passengers object to my presence in the train, I would be detrained.
As the night started setting in, my tension grew more and I was at a loss to understand how I would travel the entire night without a berth. The coupe I was travelling was full with two passengers. I approached one of the passengers and explained to him my position and pleaded with him and to allow me to travel in the coupe for that night. He reluctantly agreed and allowed me to sleep on the floor. So, with the mercy shown by the fellow passenger, I managed a night’s travel on the floor sleeping amidst the fragrance of shoes, socks, chappals and leftovers strewn around. The mosquitoes played soul filling music in my ears and the cockroaches gave me company! At that time all these cozy surroundings did not really matter as this is one journey I could not afford to miss in my life.
As I reached Hyderabad next day, the bride (my wife’s)’s brother came to receive me at the station and enquired whether I had a pleasant journey I laughed and told him that I travelled in a VIP berth with special features which is beyond the reach of a normal ticket holder! Now after 27 years of married life, I look back and thank the unknown co-traveller for facilitating my travel to Hyderabad.