The Railway Ticket
by Vimala Ramu
One will have to sometimes involuntarily bend the rules however law abiding one may be otherwise. Even the venerable Bheeshma in his lecture on ethics to Yudhishtira might have hinted about this and asked him not to be so rigid all the time, but to relax in times of emergency (Aaapaddharma).
Well, one of my aunts was expecting her first child. She was staying in a place 250 Kms from Bangalore. My mother planned to make a trip to her place with me and my younger sister. It was an overnight journey by train.
My mother was very keen on carrying an old metal ribbed cradle with a big metal stand - used by the older cousins, for the new baby. This was in addition to the other luggage we had - bags, boxes, bedding rolls and last but not least, snacks to last for sometime. We were travelling by third class.
My mother never carried a purse or a handbag. The tickets those days were not the thin computer print-outs of today. They were pastel colored stiff cardboard rectangular pieces of say 1.5cm X 3 cm. My mother had tied them at the end of her 9 yard sari and tucked the knot into her waist, which she claimed was the safest place.
In the morning, as the station approached, there was a wild scramble to get out and to gather all our belongings before the train puffed off on its further journey. Even the cradle and the stand with its awkward angles were miraculously out but not the tickets!!! When my mother dug her fingers into her waist for them, she discovered that the tucked end of the saree had become untucked as the knot at the end of her sari had come undone and the tickets were missing. We had not traveled ticketless but had disembarked ticketless.
It being a working day, my uncle could not meet us at the station. So, the previously agreed arrangement was that we should take a ‘Jutka’, a one horse carriage and reach home on our own, a distance of 2 miles. But how do we get past the ticket checker?
The situation called for ingenuity and resourcefulness which my mother had in plenty. She sent me and my sister, then 11 and 9 years of age to run to the end of the platform and to exit the station where the wooden grill ended, to fetch her brother–in law.
Thoroughly enjoying the thrilling adventure, we reached the end of the trelliswork and came out of the station. Running through all the short cuts (we were familiar with the town), we did not stop till we reached home. There we explained the situation to our aunt and her husband as dramatically as we could, after which the latter set off to rescue our mother. He was quite an influential man in the town.
Thus that particular trip remained ever fresh in my memory as a thrilling adventure. End