Disclaimer: All characters in the following passage are fictional, and any resemblance to the real is purely co-incidental. However, the incident is real, and the story is based on essence.
The following story is based on the disaster that occurred in M.P. a few days ago. In the after effects of this incident, many men from the Railway department were called on duty to help with the reconstruction and resurrection of the accident spot. These men are STILL on duty, and are working incessantly to cure the site of the scars left behind by the blunders of nature and fraud. While reading the two parallel stories presented, please keep in mind that while there is so much evil in the society, there is also good, and allow them to restore your faith in humanity.
August 4th, Monday: It has been raining heavily since the sun had set in the Central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
In little Lakshmi’s eyes, rain is good. Her father has a business in Burhanpur, he owned a tea shop, where people paid to enjoy her father’s hot chai when it rained. This ensured that she had a new dress for her cousins wedding in Varanasi. With this little dress in her trunk, Lakshmi boarded the Kamyani Express with her parents on the evening of August 4th from her hometown station…
Sugandh Singh owns a farm on the outskirts of Kudawa. One of his troubles with his farm was that it was too close to the train-track. Every passing engine would make his girls cry as babies. But they had to get used to it. However, this particular night, his littlest wouldn’t stop howling, though the last train had passed 10 minutes ago. His old mother cursed the babe, saying that he was seeing things that don’t exist.
Then they heard it.
Lakshmi was jolted awake. Someone was screaming that the train-track ahead was broken! And no longer than the news caused panic, she felt turbulence – their coach had safely crossed over the derailed beam! But soon enough, a violent jerk backward indicated that the hind part of the train had gone under.
Just as Sugandh saw one train collapse, there came another on the adjacent track! Judging by the day and time, he guessed it to be the Janata Express. Sugandh saw this train go down engine-first, followed by four coaches, which eventually rolled onto their sides – taking several humans trapped inside them, into the river.
Mr. Verma is an important man in the Railway dept. of India. He works in the region where the derailment occurred. Once again, he was called in the middle of the night on duty. It was an emergency. When he reached office, he learned of the incident and was informed that the rains had eaten away the (very weak) foundations of the track, thereby derailing the trains and resulting in the horrifying catastrophe. Rumor was it that the Meteorological dept. had done its job and warned the Railways, but this neglect could not be noticed. Their team was given charge to sort the mess made by the flash floods. And work was to begin ASAP.
August 8th, Saturday: Mr. Verma was close by when one of his subordinates found a little girl with a swollen head. She was called Lakshmi, and was admitted among the hundred (and counting) to the First Aid unit’s immediate care. “At least she lives”, were his thoughts. Nearly thirty people had died, and many bodies were missing – said to have been washed away in the flash flood.
As for him? He had seen more damage than he could clear from his head in the past four days and nights. But he had learned to put himself second to all those around him. When he had signed up for this job, his sole purpose was to be as useful to the society as he could. And this was a sentiment shared by all the men he worked with. Thus, their team had not spared a second resting. There was too much to be done.
For four days, a railway counterpart of an R.V. had housed him at the site, and his children and wife called him like clockwork. He was hopeful that he may be home tomorrow, but if even the smallest screw slipped, he may have to stay longer. He could not tell his family though.
August 10th, Monday: Nearly a week now. They had had to build a new track to pull out some of the bogies still on wheels. Rest were to be lifted using heavy cranes. He had learned of the quick thinking of the Janata’s driver: the man had tried all he could to save the train. He had seen the collapse of the train in front of his eyes, and applied the brakes, but the track was too slippery to stop the train in time. When all that could be done was done, he had jumped out to save himself.
Mr. Verma had been home yesterday, but was unable to sleep. He could not rest until the bodies were found, and all the vessels revived. So he came back, as all the rest did, to save what could be saved.
Sugandh Singh had seen much since the accident. Today, there were more people coming in from nearby towns to see the trains- it had become a tourist spot! The official men, who came in first, were still working non-stop. He too was working- working to put his life back together, clean up the mess that he didn’t cause. He was working – just like the men in shirts – for a new day after a bad night.
Author’s note: I want to tell this story because no one has once thought about those heroes who slave away at places such, only to pick up pieces of the world’s loss. The families of such men worry day in and day out, but are not paid any compensation, nor are the individuals of this dept. honored especially in the society. Yes, railways are a good employer – even the largest in the world – but how many RESPECT and covet the job of the TT encountered while traveling? Who thanks the engineers and planners for the availability of a train to every single destination one can imagine in the nation? Who can generate and run a system as complex as the iRCTC website with even half the speed which all abuse? The thing is, some men are doing their jobs, and doing it well. Honor them, and respect them for it. Give them the credit they deserve!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.