Friday, August 8, 2008


I was away in Delhi and had to stay there for almost two months as my office thought of no other alternative to manage their problems in easier ways than to disturb my stability in staying at Sitarampur. They were used to think that an official action towards any betterment could produce a conceivable result only in changes of their staff's postings . So I had to be transferred temporarily. However finally I could be able to return only because my absence here caused much more troubles than what they faced in Delhi. So –on a Sunday I got down in Sitarampur and felt enlivened with fresh air of this place. I had never thought while staying in Delhi that the air I breathed in was polluted there. Nobody thinks about the quality of air of their living place as air also is tasteless. So for the first time my being tasted something consciously which was as refreshing as one feels after a cold bath in a summer noon.

The train 2116 DN slowly passed from my eyes and erased many persons behind it on the platform. Soon it became an empty place. I had no hurry to go to home. The place which I loved most was not Sitarampur –but its railway station. So the home with all its known surroundings gradually embraced me and I relished that- what people know by the phrase –‘home, sweet home’. I went to the bench and sat on it for rest after many hours’ journey. Actually I did not feel for rest. I was not that tired at all. I was rather feeling an extra vigour perhaps for an inner cheerfulness like a bird for getting back to its known old perch. I looked around my old dear place and the whole surroundings also looked back to me simultaneously and we both knew each other and shared between us a single silent word ‘hello!’. The place I had left two months ago remained perfectly loyal to my eyes now. The trees, the discoloured shade over my head, the round hanging brass plate used for bell, the shanty on the other side of the boundary wall where Keshab- the tea-man lived with his family and the smell of burnt coal were all exactly the same. Perhaps this sense of 'known' lies in discovering something where one essentially belongs to –is a source of a spontaneous and unconscious delight of existence.

Keshab was seen coming toward me carrying his kettle. I looked on the same station clock and instantly knew that it was time for the arrival of 2115 UP. The time –I thought was not changed even. It also returned back with me! Keshab was standing near me and asked me with his friendly smile “When have you come?” etc. He gave me a cup(a disposable earthen pot) of tea. I sipped and instantly felt that I had not tasted tea for the last two months. I always felt that if it was not from Keshab –in the platform of Sitarampur railway station-the tea did not have so much of the taste of tea. While sipping tea and talking to Keshab –like two friends meeting after a long time-I heard the sound of the station bell. The bell rang in my heart and I knew it was coming and tried to find the face of the engine tracing along the far stretched rails. I also discovered many people meanwhile arrived in the platform for catching the 2115 UP.

The 2115 UP train arrived and as usual there was a commotion and the whole station rose to its festive excitement. Now I stood up and entered the room of the station master. I knew him and he also regarded me as one of them-the railway staff as both of us considered the station as our home. But I did not find Kamtaprasad in his seat. Instead I saw an unknown person sitting in his place. He raised his head and looked to me-“Yes?” I told him that I wanted to meet Kamtaprasad-the station master. He stared at me for sometime and asked me the reason. I told him-“Nothing. We are friends. I have been out of station and only returned today. So this is mere courtesy.”

“He has been transferred –to another station ten days ago. I have joined here as his replacement.”-he told me and suddenly began to be busy with his works.

On my way to my home I asked myself “Who remains there in this continuity to roll on?’’

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