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News Entry# 287832
Dec 07 2016 (08:14)  MRTS: When the slow-moving train helped witness a funeral (
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Commentary/Human InterestSR/Southern  -  

News Entry# 287832     
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Selvam cranes his neck and squints to look through the train window. “There, there,” another passenger cries, pointing south with her hand.
“The flag, look for the flag, the colours are so bright, you can see it from here. That’s our Amma,” she cries again.
Selvam wipes his rheumy eyes again and looks hard in the direction she points at. And then, his face lights up through the creases and he raises his hand to wave instinctively. A fraction of a second later, he realises what he has done and he drops his
hand like a stone.
In another corner of the coupe, a young man sits quietly but the violent blonde highlights in his hair call for attention. Tears are streaking down his face as he watches too, through the window.
And then the train picks up speed, chugs on. The clutch that had gathered around the doors and windows melts into the compartment, easing themselves into their seats. When the train stops, they holler to their family and friends to get off, and take the stairs to the opposite side. They emerge shortly at the other platform and settle down, on the pavement, waiting for a train going the opposite side. Back to that arresting spectacle again.
On a day when it seemed as if all roads led to Rajaji Hall, the best way to get a piece of the action without getting caught in a melee was taking the MRTS. The trains also seemed to slow down just above the wooded Government Estate area between Chepauk and Chintadripet Stations giving passengers time to catch a glimpse of their leader lying in state, afar.
We were not imagining that. Indeed, sources say MRTS train did slow down, in a vague related way: “We gave specific instructions to the loco pilots to travel very cautiously on the stretch as people started getting on the railway track,” a senior Southern Railway official says.
“At a spot about 100 metres from Chintadripet Station, people got a clear view of the place where Jayalalithaa’s body was kept and hence the loco pilots were asked to watch out for people running across the track,” he added. As the cortège moved in the evening towards Anna Salai, the trains actually halted in their tracks before they chugged on again. A whistle later they were off but the interval seemed sufficient to let passengers get a glimpse of the gun carriage and procession. A short while later, just as the Railways said, a clutch of people crossed the tracks, running across at that elevation with no mind for safety. “ I have not really bought a ticket, but I have been up and down some seven times already,” chirps a teen, Madhan, dressed in his school uniform. “Don’t tell the police,” he adds hastily. “You are young,” sighs Lakshmi of Ayodhya Kuppam, “You can run up and down the stairs many times. I can’t do it, my leg hurts, but I want to seeAmma .” She nods at the young cop walking on the platform, swinging his baton. “ Thambi (brother), can’t someone tell them to stop this train here until she is taken away? She is our Amma , no? Can we see her after this even if we want to?”
The train obligingly draws into the Triplicane Station just then. Lakshmi forgets her bad leg and hobbles towards the ladies compartment. Inside, she rushes towards a window seat on the left of the train, plonks herself and waits. The train starts again, heading towards Chintadripet, towardsAmma .
( With inputs from
K. Manikandan)
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