The bumpy ride to Rampur
The bumpy ride to Rampur4 mins 356 4 mins 356
Rakesh my accomplice in the jail break also belonged to Bihar like me; however unlike me who had lost all connect with my villager he still had relatives in his village. We are on another side of Bihar where sugarcane was the major cultivation. I had little money in my pocket; we had a hearty food in a roadside eatery and then walked to the nearest railway station. It was long walk but we had no fixed destination in mind, however we wanted to be far away from the prying eyes of the police. We reached a nondescript station and took a train; a local train that ran on narrow gauge tracks. The fellow passengers were village folks wearing dhoti and their ‘gamcha’ wrapped on their heads like a poorly made turban. The train stopped for hours after every few minutes of running, the poor passengers ate groundnuts to kill time. The floor of the train was carpeted with ground nut shells and people didn’t mind dirtying the train. They chewed tobacco and spat all around. Children wailed and the mothers didn’t show much concern to comfort them, they were left to deal their issues on their own. The father would occasionally shout at the children and they would huddle in fear, all quite suddenly.
The train stopped for hours in one of the stations, the passengers grew restless and then furious. They assembled and strode towards the station office. We also walked with them. “Don’t do anything which may attract any attention towards us” Rakesh cautioned me. Right he was, we were in a run and should play safe. We were the silent spectator of the events unfolding in front of our eyes. The angry passengers shouted and entered the office to find no one in the office. Sensing trouble the entire staff, which must have been handful, fled the scene. People dialed random numbers from the table phone and few took great interest in ram shaking the office. The chairs were turned upside down, the contents of the table scattered all around. There was nothing worth looting so the mob vented their frustration and anger with such loathsome undertaking.
The train finally whistled and chugged. All sprinted to get in the train leaving the office in a ravaged condition. The train pulled in at a station called “Narkatiagunj” and then it stopped. Many passengers alighted and we got to know that it would stop for an hour before finally heading towards the final destination “Rampur”.
We were also tired of the reticent train and decided to explore other means. The name “Rampur” sounded good and we decided to make it our home for few days.
“Rampur, Rampur…” shouted the tonga wallah at the horde of passengers emerging out of the station. We boarded the tonga, we took the seat beside the driver. Several wooden planks were joined to make the seating area; there was even a canopy to protect the passengers from heat and rain. By the time the tonga was ready to start the journey, every inch of it was tightly occupied by passengers. I could not even move my body and the bumpy ride was shaking every bone.
The road made of bricks had many gaps and every time the wooden wheels fell in the gap the tonga wallah whipped the poor pony. The pony exerted more strength to drag the wheel only to fall in yet another gap. If the gaps were not big enough it bumped over them causing jerks. Long sugarcane plants on either side of the road, the beauty was overwhelming but the journey turned even the sight to a sour experience. We covered the ten kilometer distance in over two hours. On alighting I felt every bone of my body shattered. It was turning dark and we hurried towards the railway station to spend the night. Once it turned dark the entire town was engulfed in darkness, no electricity there. The stillness of the night filled us with an element of fear, the occasional shrill screaming of foxes from the thick sugarcane fields made both us huddle to each other and we prayed silently for the dawn to fall. We would explore the town next day, until then the empty platform was our home.