A very interesting and humorous piece written by one of our dear BA (LLB) students, Aijaz Azaad in his experience of the night he spent at the Rohri Railway Station with his friend Rahim. In this piece he also criticized the Pakistani Railway System and urges the reader to understand the value of time of the people who use public transport.
It was the 31st of December 2013. The final moments when the last sun of 2013, modulating the woeful as well as joyful ballads was in progress to set. We were at Rohri Railway station to purchase the tickets for Lahore. After a lot of efforts we managed to buy two tickets of Shalimar Night Coach Express. The information counter suggested us to reach before 12:00 AM. Because the time mentioned in the ticket for the arrival of train was the same, we left the station for our friend’s hostel which was nearby. Now we were subjected to wait there for the next five hours. In chit-chat, we spent a huge time at the hostel and left for station at 11:45 PM. Me and my class fellow Rahim with my cousins were walking along the barren road. Loosely moving steps of five teenagers on the road seemed the vagrancy of youngsters. We were also shivering and whistling due to intense cold.
We reached the station and asked from the counter about the arrival of the train. The person in charge excused for the train being one hour late. We were somehow discouraged but after a number of suggestions we went to hostel to refresh ourselves with the warmth of hot coffee. We spent half an hour in laughing and cheering in the hostel. Then we came out of the hostel to shake in the open sky.
Simultaneously the light air blowing from north side was increasing the ratio of cold. Suddenly the silence of the horrible darkness broke with the tremendous sound of bullet firing.
Thaa! Thaa! Thaa!
“What’s it? Who’s there?”
We started murmuring.
Suddenly a friend of our shouted, “Its New Year’s eve today”.
Oh! It’s great!
“But very sad” a friend of our spoke in condolence manner.
“But why”? I asked.
“We will be the unfortunate ones who forgot to celebrate New Year night” he added.
In fact it was the unfortunate group of youngsters which were shivering and shaking in the intense cold in the last night of 2013 at Rohri Railway Station. Not only we but all the moving steps at station, including passengers, shopkeepers and luggage carriers (Kulli) were also from those. And Very soon the firing sound stopped and we realized that the intense cold did not allow the people to celebrate New Year Night outside their doors.
In aimless chit-chat and futile dialogues we spend an hour under the open sky, without moving under any shade.
It was 1:00 am, when we were shocked to hear an announcement in such a manner:
“The passengers waiting for Shalimar Night Coach Express are being informed that the train has been late for an hour, so you are being requested to show the patience for another hour”.
So we tried to act according to the suggestion in announcement and took a bench behind the large pillar beside the coffee centre. We again got the help of coffee to get rid of deadly cold. We slowly enjoyed the coffee and started criticizing the destructive Railway system of Pakistan. Some of our friends gave advanced examples of trains in Japan and China. But it is just a dream for us to expect such a fruitful service from the government of Pakistan which is already shivering due to the heavy burdens of corruption, favoritism, energy crisis, international pressures, etc.
Discussing on the ruined railway system of Pakistan, we reached the time 2:00am. Our eyes were staring at the railway track far and wide but no sign of Shalimar Night Coach Express. Rahim and I decided to request the rest of friends including my cousins to go to their hostel, because the rest came to see off us and they had been waiting unnecessarily because of the delay in the arrival of the train.
After the departure of our friends, somehow we felt like two downcast train passengers but very soon we managed to create a conversation with a passenger, who was sitting on the next bench. He was also waiting for the same train. He added in his conversation that the train was arriving at 3:30am. But now it was not an astonishing thing for us because we had already waited for last three hours there.
Chatting and cheering, laughing and limping, discussing and daring, we spent the last hour at the station. At last we were surprised to see the train slowly coming towards the station. Very soon we took the seats and tried to get rid of the weariness. At 4:00am the train started moving ahead. The last two hours of the New Year night were also spent in the slackly moving train. I also greeted the first rays of emerging sun of 2014 from the train’s window.
My journey completed at 4:00pm. And it was not only me but lot of other passengers who traveled in a night coach in day time.