Allahabad junction, June 15, 1994…….. When I returned after succeeding in filling a bottle of water from the overcrowded cold water tap few meters away from my train, I couldn`t find my train! Before I realised, my train (3417) had left Allahabad Railway Station for Mumbai, then Bombay. It had onboard all my original certificates and testimonials, in a suitcase and a bag which were unlocked and unchained. I was a waitlisted passenger in sleeper class - slept when a berth got vacant and did not realise that the train had already finished its scheduled stoppage. It was around 11 am, June 15, 1994. I was left with only some cash and my train ticket in my pocket, a bottle of water and a towel around my neck…everything else was en-route to Bombay!!
I rushed to the Station Superintendent (SS) room and requested for help! The SS told me that though it is late but they would still try….they tried and tried and tried…..and traced my luggage after two hours of consistent calling when the train had traveled about 100km from Allahabad Junction to Tikaria Station. Good lord! The officers smiled, “we have found your luggage and have arranged the Station Master of Tikaria to take its possession”. I was given a slip with SS stamp (which I have still kept with me) requesting Station Master Tikaria “Sri Rajeet Ranjan Sinha, who missed his luggage on 3417 is going with this slip, please handover his luggage”.
Couple of hours later I boarded the Bombay Mail which did not have a halt at Tikaria but to a station 7-kms away. I had the option of waiting for a connecting passenger train or taking a local village bus; I boarded the first bus and reached Tikaria around 9 pm. There was a new station master (SM) on duty then and he told me that for safety reasons they had sent my luggage to another station, Markandi. He said he would arrange the same to come to Tikaria by the midnight passenger train. He also offered me to have dinner with him and then advised me to take rest on seats at the platform. There was no electricity at the station and I slept a few feet away from the tracks on the seats at the platform.
Come midnight, the train with my belongings reached Tikaria. The SM woke me up and with lantern in one of his hands, we walked to the guard’s compartment. The guard handed over my luggage to me and the station master helped me by carrying one bag in his hand to the middle of the packed train where he could fit me in with my luggage. The train was over stopped there to help me.
I do not remember any officers’ name today, so I would like to say this - THANK YOU RAILWAYS!! Thank You!!