The Ticket-less Traveller

“And give them all a taste of this water from Delhi”, she went on to complete her sentence even though no one was listening. She was speaking on how high her village folks thought of those returning from Delhi. There were others as well debating over Kejriwal’s ability to please the Delhi people among those who were pulling legs of an elderly man who had earlier boasted of his strength during his younger days. “Uncle was capable of holding 20 mugs together now he can hold only two!”-shouted a man from this group upon seeing the old man entering in the coach with two cups of tea at the next station. Faintly annoyed at this, the old man let it pass with a forced smile.

We had one seat for two of us so I let Papa take that and managed to sit with a group of local commuters on the a side lower seat. People were pursuing their interests whether it was talking, playing cards and on mobile or just persuading others to share their seats. The train itself seemed to persuade the track to let it pass. It had the same stinky, old and somewhat reassuring environment as it had had dozens times earlier. We were travelling to Sultanpur, a district of Uttar Pradesh and were supposed to reach there in the early morning next day. Papa was already stretching himself on the seat and fell asleep soon. I knew, however, that I will have to wait for the TTE to come and pass this compartment for I didn’t have a ticket. This was the first time of me travelling ticket-less. So far it was uneventful and I was optimistic that rest of it will also go without a hiccup.

Train took a turn and I could see the engine passing through a huge iron bridge over a river; the coaches followed the engine like ducklings follow their mother only these were less quite for the reckless noise they made, made everyone to sit up and look out of their windows until whole of the train crossed the bridge.

Towards morning soon as the train crossed Lucknow, came a hawker selling Gulab Revaris of Lucknow, at least that’s what he claimed and a good number of people laid their hands on these as they could get 10 packets for hundred rupees. They must have felt like knocking the deal off until this second one came who claimed that his stuff was the real one and had these nice huge packets filled with the ‘real Gulab revaris‘. This appeared to be more convincing than the former one for the revaris were larger in size and their shapes were not irregular but round unlike the last one’s. Those who did not buy revaris from the first one took interest and bought handful of these, a lot of them. Now was the time to see them pass sidelong glances of pity mixed with a hint of smile to those who bought revaris earlier,  who also returned the same, only theirs’ held envy in them.

Train was running off only in one direction and the journey seemed endless as I had started to feel uneasy mostly due to me not having a separate seat to stretch myself on.

This train runs almost everyday changing its route, destination and the train number accordingly. Today it was going till Raxaul, a town in Bihar. This is generally not a time for us to visit our home in our native village; we were travelling just because we had to attend the wedding of my brother-in-law that too on a short notice that we could not arrange the reserved tickets.

Next morning when we got down at Sultanpur station I gave an involuntary gasp, probably this was the end of a difficult night.

Quite a few times during this journey I wished I had arranged the tickets well in advance, that would have helped my bottom’s pain!

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