Tuesday, July 28, 2009

HALT 7/13

I think I should justify the naming of the blog. It takes us back a year, almost to the day.
I’m travelling by the local train to Madhupur, to catch the train the Kolkata and subsequently the train to Bangalore. This is my first journey by this train for years. Usually the journey is done by car.The monsoon has set in and has been bountiful, greenery all around. The train is a shuttle that makes the trip from Giridih to Madhupur 6 times a day. The compartment is crowded, no its filled up to the brim. Cycles have been hung up on the windows, bales of hay are strewn around the floor, milk cans are clanging from wherever they’re hanging, and people are stuffed together, held from spilling onto the track by the all powerful indian adhesive ‘adjust kariye’. The train stops at all the small stations en route Madhupur, most of them small villages where the Giridih workforce comprising of milkmen, labourers, masons, house helps stay. I peek out of the window trying to catch the name of the station, so far I know we’ve crossed Maheshmunda and Jagdishpur, the notable names in the small list. I can’t believe what it says. I rub my eyes and look again. The damn thing stubbornly refuses to change. Written in black in 3 languages on a yellow board, the board says HALT.
This happened a year ago, when I was a stranger in my own land, unaware of what it was like to be a Jharkhandi. That year though, I saw HALT only once, always wanting to see it again. I mentioned it to my mother, who said it was probably the name the Railways had given to the village, and the vernacular was definitely different. During the course of this conversation, we started talking about the unique things that are Jharkhand and how nothing has ever been documented or preserved. The conversation gathered heat and momentum and when it eventually did finish, I forgot all about it.

A month and a half back I was talking about HALT. It was then that my father later told me, that HALT was what it was supposed to be, a command for the train to stop at that point. It wasn’t the name of the station or any such misconception I may have gathered and was hopeful of sustaining. It was not a major station, junction or terminal. It was a halt for this train, and this train only. This revelation never deterred me, because when I sat on the train again and peeped my head out to watch the stations I noticed that there was another halt, but it was called, and specifically so , K.B.Sahay Halt. My station, the station that virtually started my journey into Jharkhand was not the same. It was Halt. Halt 7/13. 20 minutes from Giridih, for a 10 second stop.