>a journey down memory lane

>THE tracks on which the Maitree Express ran on Monday are new, but the hopes it carried were vintage. To many across the border, it was like “memory express,” not just a train transporting people to a land divided by an international border. And it took the next-door neighbours 43 years to see it possible, so strong was the legacy of a bitter war. (Read full story)
There were love and flower petals on both sides of the border and also blinking away of teardrops by many who experienced fond flashbacks to the days before 1965 when a passenger train service was there to bridge the two Bengals.

Pahela Baishakh this year was not merely the transition to a new year, but also an occasion to put behind the bitterness of war and strife and to strive together on the same track for better days.

It was 1:47pm when the first passenger train from Bangladesh touched the Indian territory through a metal fencing heavily fortified by members drawn from Indian security and law enforcement agencies, to make the stopover at Gede Station after some moments.
An exchange of gushing happiness could be felt for quite a while as the two trains, the one leaving from Dhaka and the other
from Kolkata, crossed at Darshana in Chuadanga. Here, the locomaster from the other country took charge of the other train. The engine splits and connects the bogies.
Curious eyes stick to windows gazing outside at the passing train for familiar faces, hands waving through windows and bogie doors.

trans-border train began its inaugural run from the Cantonment Station at 8:30am Monday, one hour and 15 minutes after the train from Kolkata started rolling.
“This would definitely be one of my great memories,” Shawkat Ali, the main driver of the maiden run could not hide his excitement as he was talking to the reporters at the Cantonment Station. He, however, would also experience a deprivation.
“I feel bad that I would have to return from Darshana,” he regretted, his assistant Anwar Hossain also nodding to it.

The eyes of the passengers soon tracked down a number of foreign diplomats, including British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury and ADB Country Director Hua Du, who cheered with the musical bands on the platform invited to entertain the passengers of the maiden journey.

Excited at the news of the launching of the service, local people crowded at the station since morning, many clicking away on their cellphone cameras to capture the historic moments.

With the wave of the green flag, the train of hope and friendship rolled on the newly built tracks.

Curious people alongside the tracks at localities and also at fields waved to the train, complete with colourful buntings and garlands and a banner at the front.

For many, travelling by the train on its inaugural run meant to become a part of history.
However, there were some people like Momena Begum, 75, from Bikrampur, who had been missing the service for a long time.
“I was around 12, when I travelled with my elder sister to Kolkata,” Momena, travelling with her son, Harunur Rashid, said recalling her memory. She failed to say what year it was, but said that the train was ‘strong’ though it ran on coal.

Her sister, Mojidon, who used to live at Park Street in Kolkata, is no more but there are some other relatives in Khidirpur whom they are going to meet, she said.

Back then, Momena used to board the train from Goalunda Station and get down at Sealdah Station.


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