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Opinion
Once, train travel was safe..!
By Robert Clements
In a second class compartment somewhere in India a grandmother looked out of a train window with fear in her eyes. "Once upon a time," she said as she looked down at her two little grandchildren, "train travel was safe!"

"Grandma," said both the children together, "you told us never ever to lie, didn't you?"

"At every station," continued their grandma, "passengers used to get down and stretch their legs."

"Stretch their legs!" cried out the elder of the two children. "You mean their limbs were still part of their body? They were not cut off in accidents? Grandmother this is a fairy tale isn't it?"

"People used to take out their pack of cards and play!"

"Didn't they keep a watch at the window? Didn't they always look to see if the engine was still attached and hadn't fallen off?"

"We even shared our food with each other," continued the grandmother nostalgically.

"Didn't you keep it for later grandmother, when you would need it in some remote place where you would be lying with only dead people round you, and the bogies one on top of the other?"

"Some of the people us used to retire to bed early," said the old lady, "We used to climb up onto the top berth and within a few moments were in the land of nod, rocked to sleep by the gentle swaying of the train!"

"Grandma?" cried both the children together.

"What is it my dears?" asked the old lady wearily.

"This is a fairy tale isn't it?" asked one of the children.

"You're making it all up aren't you?" asked the other.

"Once upon a time," said the grandmother again. "Rail travel was safe."

"You lie!" shouted both the children angrily together.

"Signals were checked," said the old lady softly. "Railway lines were inspected. Tax money was spent on safety!"

"Isn't safety important anymore?" whispered the two children fearfully."No," said the old lady sadly, "not as important as new railway lines to villages and towns of the railway minister. Not as important as fancy bullet trains of the Prime Minister to his state!"

"But the money for those new lines, those bullet trains, shouldn't they be spent on safety instead?" asked the elder of the little children shrilly.

The grandmother nodded sadly and looked out of the window.

The other passengers in the same compartment also looked out fearfully. A woman held prayer beads and chanted her prayers incessantly, forgetting lines as she stared at the passengers standing at the door, ready to jump out as soon as the train derailed or hit a boulder or fell into the river or just fell apart!

The two children looked up fearfully at their grandmother and screamed as the train suddenly rocked, rolled and rose like a plane. "Once upon a time,' whispered the dying woman "train travel was safe!" and all three blacked out..!

bobsbanter@gmail.com


News Updated at : Friday, June 8, 2018
 
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