KALKA RAILWAY STATION – THE PLATFORM OF DESPAIR
DEPARTING EMPTY HANDS
After a tiring and exhausting stay in a military compound (I called it a “Refugee Camp”), bare of any tree except one, wet and cold (due to rains) during all our stay of about 10 days, hungry most of the time due shortage of food and nothing to cook (wet twigs or wet leaves wouldn’t light the fire) and barbed wire fence enclosing our ground (as if we were some sort of animals). I still question “how we survived”. I, for one, did escape without thinking of my fate, slipping from under the barbed fence, not thinking what if I don’t make it back. I was so desperate to eat something if I am not shot dead, if apprehended as a Muslim. I did buy some “samosas and pakoras” ( vegetable fritters) from a Hindu shop owner, for myself, my father and cousins, as we always had done in our good days. On my return, I managed to make an excuse and apologised from the guard at the Camp entrance, who let me in back, may be having soft heart under the circumstances. Thereafter, I never even dared to take a chance.
In spite of all this, I admire the efforts of British Officer-in-Charge responsible for our evacuation. His commitment and his own life was also online. Remember, the four Muslim Cadets under training who provided us security all the way from Kasauli to Kalka via 33km walk on foot, taking the mountain path, all the way downhill.
Finally the day came when the British Officer-in-Charge announced that we have to move out of the Camp on Sep. 9, 1947 and will head to Pakistan by train. All our luggage was loaded in military trucks and we were ordered to march to the Kalka Railway Station, in orderly manner, escorted by soldiers.
On arrival at the Kalka Railway Station, we were lead to a Platform where our luggage was piled up high. We were ordered to pick up our luggage from the pile and transfer it to the train compartment of our choice, which we did. However, depair was smilingn on our fate, when after loading the luggage, more than half of the people were outside the train without any seating. Came an order from the British Officer-in-Charge to take all the luggage out of the train compartments, which we did, though exhausted for doing so. Next order came,now settle down in the compartments. Voila, every body was in. Announcement was clearly heard: NO LUGGAGE WILL BE ALLOWED TO GO. THIS MEANT, LEAVING EMPTY HANDS OF EVERY POSESSION WE EVER HAD IN OUR LIFE TIME IN INDIA.
BEING SHOCKED, NO ONE TALKING, JUST SULKING AND TEARS ROLLING DOWN TO UNCERTAIN FUTURE ….