It was during the Christmas holidays that my friend Rohit rang up from Delhi, to inform that he was coming to Lucknow. He had to attend a marriage and wanted to know if I could receive him at the station.
I enthusiastically volunteered, for the prospect of seeing my friend after a gap of five years was indeed exhilarating. Though the thought of visiting the railway station, with all the filth and dirt was daunting, but all the same there was nothing I could do about it.
The train’s estimated time of arrival was seven A.M, so after confirming that it was running on time, I set forth to the railway station which was about twenty minutes drive from my residence. On reaching the station at 6.45 A.M, I was informed that the train was an hour late. Cursing the railways for their inefficiency, I trudged along to the enquiry office and indignantly questioned the clerk for the wrong information given on phone. He was quite unapologetic and vague .On prodding him, I learnt that there was a derailment at Hardoi about sixty kilometers from Lucknow, which was the cause of the delay.
Since it was inadvisable to return home, I decided to wait and looked around for a place to rest. To my dismay there was none, for the platform was milling with people.
There were passengers waiting for trains, or some of them like me were waiting to receive their near and dear ones. There were still others, who with their luggage under their head were snoring away to glory.
I really admired their capacity to sleep, amidst the din and cry of hawkers and vendors. A cow making a detour of the place came heading towards me. Fearing that it would butt me, I thought it prudent to move away. It however had no such intension, for it picked up a banana peel lying before me.
I was by now feeling quite exhausted, so I took a cup of tea from the vendor close by. While I was sipping my tea, a train screeched to a halt on the platform. There was a commotion as the passengers rushed in, making it difficult for those who were disembarking. There was much shouting and confusion.
In this hullabaloo, a lady who had just disembarked from the train yelled, that her chain had been snatched. Hearing her shout, a lad standing close to her broke into a run. He came rushing towards me to escape from the exit instinctively flung the cup of hot tea on his face. This startled him and in no time we had overpowered him. The lady profusely thanked me while the Railway Police arrested the culprit.
It was a relief to hear the announcement of the arrival of the Lucknow Mail. I took a vantage point so that I could look into the compartments. The train rolled in and to my relief, I found my friend waving out his handkerchief from one of the compartments. What a happy reunion it was, we hugged each other like long lost friends. All the din, the dirt and the clamour was lost on us, as we walked away with his baggage in tow.