From my home I can hear in the distance, the trains going by, and then I hear the dreadful sound, the train hooting; one long and two short blasts. Again, one long and two short!

I know what grim tidings those hoots bring. It says the train has run over someone and the station master is being told to send a stretcher and men down the tracks and remove the body: Some poor soul who while crossing the railway tracks was hit by the train and now lies maimed, mangled and most probably dead!

And as soon as those at the station hear the distressing hoots, two helpers get up wearily and walk casually to the blood stained rusted stretcher that lies near the station master’s office, pick it up, and trundle wearily down the tracks in search of whatever is left of the iron monsters ruthless devouring appetite!

I agree it is not the loveliest of subjects to write on, but there is an urgency in me to pen these thoughts because too many are dying crossing the railway tracks.

One long and two short! I imagine the scene at the station, I watch the stretcher bearers return with still whimpering, bloodied man, who maybe still alive, but with lower or upper limbs left behind. I hear his cries, the pitiful cry of one who knows it’s over. I think of his wife, of little ones waiting for a father to return and then the knock on the door or chilling telephone call. “Your husband is dead!”                          

I interviewed an engine driver once and saw genuine anguish on his weather-beaten face as he told me that one of his most helpless moments is when he sees someone walking on the track in front and knows he cannot do a thing.

 “Sometimes,” he said. “They are so shaken on seeing the sudden appearance of my train they stand petrified and stare at my engine. I feel like crying out in fury and frustration. “Why? Why did you have to use the tracks?”

I remember years ago walking along railway platforms and seeing the stained sheet covering the body of victim. Sometimes the sheet is not long enough and legs stick out, “See!” they cry, in bloodied unison, “We tried to save time, but couldn’t save ourselves!”

Why do I write this piece? To tell you to use the staircase, because when you are run over my child, or grown up man, or mother, your whole family dies with you. It’s not one death, it’s many. Even if you don’t care for your life, do care for your loved ones who’ll be left behind. From today when you are faced with the decision of crossing those seductive railway lines, stop in your tracks and use the bridge instead, and if the train goes by you without hooting, one long and two short, then I have not penned these lines in vain..!

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