“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Remembering railroads...

Remembering railroads... (Originally written in 2001)

In the early seventies I lived in Mavelikkara, a small town in central Kerala. Our ancestral home was by the side of the main railway line that runs through the small state in the southern most part of India, like a nerve-end. Though a good 75 mts. away from the tracks, one could feel the house shuddering when a train rattled by. Ammu, my pet goat, never got used to the trains. She would jump and strain at the rope and try to run up the low, slanting coconut palm she was tied to. Karumbi, our black cow, who didn't care for me much, would give a low moo.

Motion is one sure sign of life. The fluttering of a leaf in the breeze, water dripping in drops, a new-born baby shaking its limbs - movement is life!

As a little boy in the sixties, when I came to Mavelikkara for the holidays, one of my main pastimes were to place pieces of mettle on the iron rails and watch the train pass over them, crushing it to a fine dust. John, my friend and a few years my senior, told me about the night when he kept a big boulder on the rail track and the 1230 Express that overturned and fell right into the paddy fields on the other side......

In front of our house the tracks curved to the left. And John said of the countless young women who jumped before the 1230. Every friday night, all the maruthas(ghosts) meet right under the little culvert and dance with lights on their heads. Want to see them? Come to my house at 1230 sharp. And then one friday night, my mother, who then was in her thirties, walked all the 3 kms. from the railway station to our house. Couldn't get a taxi. All alone. Horrified, I asked her if she saw the Maruthas. Frowning, she said, 'you mean the frog catchers with their Petromax lights? There were a couple of nasty dogs, though'. In her mid-seventies now, mother confuses me for her husband and my sister for her mother.... And John died last year to the bullets of Kashmiri terrorists...

***************** Balachandran.V, 30.09.2001


  1. oh ! see the end..again a blow to the readers mind !
    waiting for more reminscns..

  2. Another write that paints such beautiful thoughts for your readers. Indeed, you are most gifted.


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