When the Train Would Not Start

Once, while I was working in the forest, I went to Bangalore to draw money from the bank. I needed it to make payments to my workers. I then bought a ticket for Londa on the Bangalore-Pune Express. After arriving at Londa station, I went straight to Ram Mandir, which is about one mile from the railway station. Dr Dattatreya was waiting for me with all the mail that had been forwarded to me. As I was glancing through it, I noticed a postcard from Swami Abhishiktananda that said that he would be arriving on that same day on the Pune Express. I realised that he must have been on the same train I had arrived on

I said to the doctor, ‘Let us go back to the station. Swami Abhishiktananda is breaking his journey in order to see me here.’

The doctor didn’t think that he had been on the train. ‘This is a very small station. If he had got off the train, you would have seen him. Not many people get off here. There is no point in going back.’

I insisted that we return to see if he was still there. On our arrival we found Swami Abhishiktananda standing outside his compartment. The train should have left about half an hour before, but it was still waiting at the station.

When I had not met him at the station, the swami assumed that I was not in Londa. He quickly bought another ticket from Londa to Pune and got back on the train. He persuaded the conductor to let him have the same seat that he had been occupying before. However, the train didn’t move so he got out again to stretch his legs on the platform.

When he saw us approaching, Swami Abhishiktananda took his bags from the compartment and came forward to greet me. As he was walking towards me, the train began to pull out of the station.

After we had exchanged the usual greetings, I told him that I had been on the same train and that I had only read his postcard when I arrived at the Ram Mandir. First we went to the ticket office and got his ticket refunded. Then he told me what had happened to the train.

‘This train is only supposed to stop here for ten minutes. I was actually asleep when the train arrived here, which is why you didn’t see me on the platform. Someone who knew I was due to get off here woke me up and told me where I was.

‘When the ten minutes were up, the engineer gave the whistle and the guard waved his flag, but nothing happened. The train would not move. This train has been stuck here for nearly an hour. No one has been able to make it move. When I saw you walking down the platform, I went inside and removed my bags. As soon as I took my luggage off the train, it began to pull out of the station.

‘Now I know why the trains are so often late in India. No one knows that there is a superior power that can stop the train, even if the engine is in perfect order!’

Excerpt From
Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 331-332
By David Godman