Tarachand And The Trembling Tracks

Tarachand turned over in his wobbly charpoy. The rickety bamboo bed meshed with handmade jute cord was just strong enough to support his enormous frame, however, it squeaked in protest with every twist and turn that the slumbering hulk made.

At seven-and-a-half feet of stature, the sleeping man’s arms and legs jutted well beyond the confines of the cot on which he lay. Deep in his sleep, he would occasionally place his palm flat on the floor to feel the ground rumble.

The giant had mastered the art of detecting an approaching train just by feeling the floor even in his sleep many miles before the locomotive passed by his ten-by-ten residential quarter cum office provided by the railways, the only dwelling in this wild and remote part of the Chapramari forest in the northeastern confines of India’s West Bengal state.

With the first faint vibration of the approaching locomotive still many miles away, travelling through the ground into the man’s massive palm, the gentle giant woke up to do his job in this wild and distant frontier of the East Bengal Railway.

Rubbing his eyes and looking at the gleaming steel track a few feet away from his charpoy and the simmering wood-fire outside his quarter, Tarachand wondered how thirty years had passed since he had taken the job and came to this place.

Back then he was just twenty-two years of age. The empire of Great Britain was reaching far corners of India by laying new tracks and expanding the railway system. The year was 1884 and just a few months back on the 1st of July the East Bengal Railway Company was renamed as the Eastern Bengal State Railway and amalgamated with the North Bengal State and South Eastern Railways.

Tarachand thought himself fortunate to have got the job, which he knew he mainly did due to his massive and scary appearance. The British official who recruited him had said “Tara, a man of your built and might, will do just fine and scare off any bloody beast in this wilderness. You just take care of the tracks and the bridge and the Railways shall take your care.”

From that day Tarachand had been stationed in this wild and remote railway outpost commissioned to look after the track and especially the Jaldhaka river railway bridge a critical link between Bengal and Assam in this jungle domain. Now it was 1915 and the Eastern Bengal State Railway was merged with the Bengal Dooars Railways and reverted to its old name of East Bengal Railway.

All these mergers, change of ownership and company renaming hardly made any difference to Tarachand, for whom the world around remained pretty same – a single steel track piercing through the wilderness crossing a river bridge in the heart of an enchanted forest.

The jungle had not changed a bit in the last three decades. The giant was happy with his job and ensured that the tracks were clear and safe for the single train that passed through his domain once every week travelling between the states of Bengal and Assam.

Though there was no station in the forest the train would usually stop near Tarachand’s quarter to hand over weekly supplies for the giant to survive and maintain the tracks in this uninhabited wilderness. Kerosene for the signal lamps and as cooking fuel, food rations, even clothes at times were some of the things the train delivered.

The Chapramari forest was known for its large variety of flora and fauna. Birds such as parakeets, kingfishers, and green pigeons were found here in abundance. The Indian bison, rhinoceros, deer, boars, and leopards were also common to the region. The Royal Bengal Tiger, which preferred to roam in the neighbouring Gorumara forest would occasionally find its way to Chapramari as well. And among all the beasts that roamed here, teeming herds of wild elephants ruled this jungle domain.

Tarachand was a real animal lover and unproclaimed conservationist. When not engaged in maintaining the tracks, the giant would spend much of his time in the forest helping birds and animals in whatever way possible. He would keep a track of hatchlings in surrounding nests. Tender to injured animals that might have strayed near the tracks and do many other little things to help the wildlife and nature in his simple and humble way.

Not only was Tarachand a Giant in the frame but also in Brain. The man was super intelligent. He could calculate things and come up with solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems within a split of a second. If the man had received a good education and proper career guidance, he could have easily been a brilliant doctor, scientist, or engineer doing pathbreaking discoveries and making the world a better place.

Sitting straight on his charpoy, overcoming the daze of his slumber the gentle giant interlocked his beefy fingers to twist and turn his massive arms all around his gargantuan frame, cracking his knuckles and fingers, stretching himself, and yawning loudly preparing to make the rounds to check his beloved tracks before the train came.

It was just before dawn, the shrill cries of the cicadas had finally fallen silent, the nightly predators had crawled back into their dens, and the occasional chirps and hoots of morning birds came from amidst the wet and green landscape.

Tarachand had to check the tracks fast as the approaching train that day would not stop to deliver him supplies. It would dart through the jungle and cross the river bridge without slowing down. The engineer last week had brought him double supplies and had informed him that next week the train would not stop in the jungle as some high-ranking British officials and their family members would be travelling from Bengal to Assam, and they simply would not tolerate any stops or delays.

Putting down his lantern beside the track, Tarachand placed his massive palms on the steel track to gauge the speed and distance of the approaching locomotive. Rising up and calculating in his genius mind for a moment he estimated that it would take another twenty minutes for the train to come his way.

There was a concern though – the train was travelling faster than it usually did. Tarachand was certain it was the high-ranking officials who were insisting on speeding through the terrain. The giant knew, that how stubborn and arrogant some British officials could be, and they must be right on the engineer’s neck to keep on speeding in this unnecessary way.

Tarachand walked on the tracks carrying on with his routine inspection till he reached the blind bend, half a kilometre from which the Jaldhaka river bridge started. To his surprise, he saw the wooden post on which one of his kerosene lamps hung to signal the train about the track and the bridge beyond the bend being clear and safe to travel, was knocked down and the lamp crushed to pieces. It looked as if a massive animal had caused this nuisance.

The lantern he carried was made of clear glass and did not have the green or red shades required to provide the correct signal to the train. Sensing something bad Tarachand ran to check on the track beyond the blind bend.

As the hulk plunged into the bend, he suddenly braked his darting pace and froze on the spot at the sight of something that shook his very existence. The giant became still and dead silent. Without making any sudden movement he slowly moved his right feet and placed it on the track to gauge the speed and distance of the approaching train. His massive and unique brain within a fraction of a second calculated, the locomotive now travelling at around eighty kilometres per hour was just ten minutes away.

Very cautiously pacing one backward step at a time Tara slowly made his way back to the blind of the bend. As soon as he was out of sight of the stretch of the tracks that had taken his daylights away, he turned around and ran frantically towards his railway quarter, storehouse, and office cum residence. Within moments he had made up a plan and decided what to do, something many of us would perhaps take days to comprehend.

Kicking open the door with his massive feet the man dashed to pick up a kerosene jerrycan. Twisting the cap open, the giant frantically splashed the fuel all over the place. Throwing down the can and taking a moment of deep breadth Tara calmed his nerves before picking up his lantern and throwing it onto the kerosene doused walls lighting up the place.

Dashing out of the burning quarter the giant placed his hands on the railway track once again and calculated that the train was just about three minutes away. Within a minute his quarter burst into flames and a mile-high column of fire and smoke rose above the forest canopy that no one or no train could miss to spot on any given day.

With flying golden sparks from braked steel wheels grazing against steel tracks the gargantuan locomotive screeched and came to a halt just as it entered the bend. Within few feet of where the train stopped, stood a high and mighty tusker a dominant bull and behind him up to the Jaldhaka bridge, a herd of around forty elephants, male, female, and many calves. They all stood, sat, and loitered on the tracks unaware of the speeding steel train that could have decimated them.

The engineer had applied the brakes as soon as he caught sight of and passed by Tarachand’s blazing railway-quarter inferno. The mighty giant’s massive brain had made a million calculation and came up with an appropriate plan to stop the train, within a very short span of time right when he spotted the herd on the track.

He had realised that no simmering signal could stop the speeding locomotive whipped by arrogant British officials hellbent on speeding through the jungle domain. They would only stop to spot something very alarming and totally unexpected. Burning up the quarter was the only way to stop a massive collision between the speeding train and a herd of forty innocent elephants.

Though Tarachand the gentle giant with a mighty brain was able to stop the mishap that day, as time passed and train services in the region increased, many elephants would die in railway accidents. Nearly a century later in 2007 around twenty and in 2013 around seventeen elephants lost their lives colliding with speeding locomotives in the domain.

It is an irony that the East Bengal Railway depicted an elephant on its logo back in Tarachand’s days and the Indian Railways uses an elephant calf as its mascot to this very day. Still today the trembling tracks of the Chapramari forest continue to be a killer of one of Indian’s national heritage animals, the majestic elephant, a stark example of humans harming nature in the name of development.

Tarachand And The Trembling Tracks


Copyright © 2021 TRISHIKH DASGUPTA

This work of fiction, written by Trishikh Dasgupta is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email to the author at trishikh@gmail.com or get in touch with Trishikh on the CONTACT page of this website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trishikh

Trishikh Dasgupta

Adventurer, philosopher, writer, painter, photographer, craftsman, innovator, or just a momentary speck in the universe flickering to leave behind a footprint on the sands of time..READ MORE

68 Comments Add yours

  1. Saparza says:

    Very nice! Keep writing 🤗

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I love your stories – linking history with the present. The imagery of the vibrating rails is good. Humans have had a fascination with trains since they were invented, snaking into the far distance, coming from afar, but also intruding on the natural world.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Trishikh says:

        Your coment makes my day. I am so happy that my writing is being loved by do many friends all over the world. I will be publishing my 30th short story tomorrow, watch out for it. You rightly say, there is something very fascinating and transcendental about trains, there is no doubt about that. It is perhaps one of the safest means of transportation for humans, but can be a real menace to nature, through where it passes.

        Like

  2. KK says:

    Tarachand’s story is very interesting. I have heard people estimating time of train’s arrival by placing an ear on the track. Beautifully written story. Loved it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      People are born with different gifts. Tarachand was unique in this way. So glad that you like my story. Always treasure the appreciation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. KK says:

        It’s my pleasure. I have to go through other stories as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        It would be my honour to have you read my stories. I am sure you would love some of them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. KK says:

        I could very well guess from the two stories. It will be my pleasure to go through. Thanks a lot 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Trishikh says:

        Glad to be able to bring forth these stories, by the grace of almighty and through the constant appreciate of fiends like you.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks for the reblog Ned. This constant effort of yours to promote my stories really encourages me a lot.

      Like

  3. Arpita Banerjee says:

    A very well written story!! ✨ Makes me feel like going for a vacation but sigh!! Covid wouldn’t allow!! Than you for giving me a virtual one though!! As I always say you are a 🌟

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Always look forward to your appreciation. Glad that was able to create this virtual jungle in words, which you could visit for a few moments. Stories in writing have this power to take to another place, am happy to have been able to create this experience for you.

      Like

  4. mcurry09 says:

    Another great story. Loved it.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Marthe, really treasure your appreciation.

      Like

  5. How distressing. Human beings seem only capable of destroying the natural world.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      I think we are capable of both creation and destruction, however, evil always has an upper hand in alluring us. More difficult is the path of goodness.

      Like

  6. Another wonderful tale, well told! :-:-

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Always look forward to an appreciation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are more than welcome!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah ! I was waiting for your stories, you know 🙂 Thank you so much, your stories are excellent.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You are too kind with your words. This week I haven’t started writing yet, bogged down with work and other things. Your encouragement at this times means a lot. I shall start writing tomorrow and try to finish this week’s story by Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s hard to write with regularity – but it’s worth it – well, you’re worth it (I say that ? my god !!!) 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Much appreciate. Will keep on writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree, they should be more careful. Maybe have train tracks built over animal crossings. I don’t know how big this jungle is or if the task feasible but something is needs to be done when trains travel through animal’s natural habitats.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      This is a very old issue that is yet to be addressed correctly in this part of the world. Efforts have been taken though to minimise the threat, but the problem still remains l. Hopefully one day, not in a very distant future elephants in this part of the world will not die due to colliding with trains anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope so too. They are too precious to keep losing due to man’s careless engineering. In some parts of the world train trestle bridges are built to prevent train and cars colliding with wild-life.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        Yes, we should adopt these kind of solutions. There is so much money around, but funny it always falls short when it comes to these kind of necessary projects. Hope something will be done soon to address this problem.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Becca W. says:

    I love the vivid images that you paint with your words!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Becca. Really treasure your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Becca W. says:

        Absolutely! I am looking forward to reading more of your writing!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        It would be my pleasure to have you read my stories.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hamish says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. It is very sad to hear of the deaths of so many elephants, and I like the way you highlight this issue through such a poignant story. 😊 Keep on writing and sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your beautiful comment. It really makes my day. Yes it is very sad indeed. The accidental deaths of these majestic creatures needs to stop. Shall keep on writing more such stories, that’s for sure.

      Like

  11. A well written and engaging story. You painted an exact image of the place so well, I thought, I am there. Beautiful story telling.
    The opening paragraph reminded me of my childhood. I have seen and slept on such charpoys.
    Thank you for sharing another wonderful piece.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for liking this story of mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Laleh Chini says:

    What a beautiful read.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Laleh. Am so happy that you like the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. nightlake says:

    Development can indeed co-exist with forest conservation and humanity. Logical thinking and careful planning are required. If only, everyone was as intelligent as Tarachand…Engrossing story.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You have rightly said it. To further add to your thought I think coexistence is not a problem, we have been living with nature for centuries. Only when we become greedy and think of accumulating material wealth we start to neglect things around us. Thanks for liking the story. Always appreciate a good feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. vaniheart says:

    Wow 😲😲 just wow 👏 😍 😳
    Bow beautifully you have written this, I was so engrossed in the story and how subtly you have included the sensitive issue of wildlife protection

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Hi Shivani, your kind words of appreciation mean a lot to me. It makes my day when someone appreciates. So glad that you liked the story. Yes, I wanted to bring out the issue of wildlife protection, but through a short story. After all this blog of mine is dedicated to short stories. Tomorrow I will publish my 30th short story, so keep an eye out, who knows you may like it too. Do read more of my stories when you feel like, there are many very interesting one’s, some of which you will certainly like.

      Like

  15. annieasksyou says:

    I stopped by to thank you for your generous likes of my posts on annieasksyou, but now I’m even more pleased. I am delighted to find these wonderful stories: rich imagery, fine detail, and important messages. As an elephant lover, I found this tale deeply moving. I’m so glad you reached out to me.
    I’m now signing on to your blog.
    Kind regards,
    Annie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Dear Annie, it was my pleasure to have landed on your site. I enjoyed going I many of your posts and will keep on visiting and follow too. Thank you so much for liking my story. I treasure your compliment. Do visit again, there are many more great stories here, some of which I am sure you would like. I try to write and release one story every weekend amidst life’s all business. I love elephants too, and this is a really sad thing, that these majestic animals lose their lives in their own territory due to human intervention.

      Like

  16. annieasksyou says:

    Oops; I didn’t click at the right time. This one should do it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. annieasksyou says:

    I’m very pleased that we’re now connected. Welcome to annieaskayou!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      It is my pleasure Annie. Look for to a meaningful blogging interaction in the future.

      Like

  18. davidprosser says:

    An excellent piece of fiction Trishikh. But, possibly because the figures you stated may be true, I would ask whether the railways are starting to slow down as they approach blind bends and areas where the great herds may be. It must be possible to add a few minutes to journey time in order to preserve even one elephants life,
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes, David the figures of elephant death are actual. Many efforts have been taken to tackle the problem but still the authorities have failed to arrive at a perfect solution. Elephants continue to die. You rightly say that decreasing the speed would reduce the problem to a great extent, which they have done, but at times is not followed. Thank you for liking the story. Much appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on it. This really makes writing it worthwhile and bringing a bit of awareness on the matter.

      Like

  19. Debes de escribir muy bien,lo reflejan tus fotos y te felicito,es la primera vez que estoy aqui.
    Esas frases que has puesto se las dije solamente a otra persona muy querida para mi,posible sea tu amiga.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation. The photographs are just illustrations and edits that simply support the story. Am glad that you like it. I am sure though it’s your first time visiting my blog, I am sure you would visit again. I try to write and publish 1 story every weekend, I am sure you would love some of them. Really happy that you could relate to one of my phrase as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. GRACIAS AMIGO.TODO LO QUE ME HAS PUESTO SERA MUY BONITO,PERO NO SE TU IDIOMA.
        DIOS TE BENDIGA Y TE MANDO UN ABRAZO DE CORAZON !!
        15-5-2021. 🇪🇸 ESPAÑA

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Wayan says:

    I enjoy your story so much, i read and learn through it. Thank you Thrisikh

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You honour me. Thank you so much. Am glad that my stories are able to inspire and spark knowledge in you.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Wayan says:

    Thank you Trishikh

    Like

  22. thatodiaboy says:

    I am visiting your site for the 1st time and I am mighty impressed! I love writing (and reading) short stories myself so your website comes across as a pleasant surprise.

    This story reminded me immediately of Ruskin Bond’s ‘The Tiger in the Tunnel’ in its vivid description of the jungle and train tracks. Very well written Trishikh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog, liking my story and commenting on it. You are right Ruskin Bond’s tiger in the tunnel is one of my favourite stories, which strongly influences this story of mine. Who can forget Baldeo the watchman and Tembu his son. My mother also gave the same reference as you after reading this story of mine. Writing short stories is one of my strongest passions. I write and release one story every weekend. There are many more good ones in this blog of mine. Do take your time and explore, I am sure you would love some of them.

      Like

  23. Halim says:

    Beautiful story. I’m glad nothing happened to Tarachand, I was worried it was going to be the kind of ending where he had to sacrifice himself to save others haha. But he did save others, not just the elephants but the people on the train. Sad to learn what happens to some elephants in real life! I did not know this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Well Halim, glad that you liked the way the story ended. It is really sad to see elephants did in this way.

      Like

  24. Subhraroy says:

    What a courageous achievement of Tarachand! What a brilliant step he had taken to stop the mishap!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes very true indeed Subhra. Tarachand is truly an epitome of courage.

      Like

  25. A very well written story!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Lusia your words encourage me greatly. Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s well deserved praise! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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