IT WAS A FRIGID January afternoon, in the year 1966. Flushed with anticipation, my wife, Savitri*, and I sat silently side by side, on the Sahyadri Express. As the train pulled out of the Bombay Central Station, we could barely hide our excitement. We were finally on the way to a two-day honeymoon to Matheran! Although we were no longer newlyweds, this was the first time we had enough savings to go on a trip together.
The train halted at Neral, where we were forced out of our reverie—the serving Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, had passed away. The news brought chaos in its wake. As we stepped out onto the platform and started making inquiries, we realized it was unlikely we would find a toy train to take us to the misty hill station we had been dreaming of for months.
The afternoon gradually settled into a pink dusk as we sat in a corner at the station, unsure of what the evening was going to bring, waiting for news of the train services as the chilly winter breeze rattled our bones. We unwrapped some biscuits we had brought along when, out of the blue, a little girl, no more than five or six years old, went gliding past us, shrieking, “But I want food! I am hungry!”
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