Raman and Sudarsan, family friends from my teenage days, now live in Secunderabad. They have recently been posting some old photographs from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Facebook and this is one such photograph taken in 1928. The station is very much different now, but when this story takes place, it was not too different.
Secunderabad station had a special place in my life and let me tell you why.
Despite being North of Hyderabad, all trains from anywhere in India, terminating at Hyderabad would first go to Secunderabad and then to Hyderabad and would halt their for up to twenty minutes while some engine exchange took place. A bit of a nuisance really, and once I settled down in the Northern parts of India, if we went by train, we would get off at Secunderabad and take a taxi or an auto rickshaw to go to Hyderabad where my late wife Urmeela’s family lived and continue to till today. That would save about an hour’s time spent in the train at the Secunderabad station, the time taken to go to Hyderabad and from there to her home.
In November 1968, I was travelling from Chennai to Hyderabad by train to get married. Urmeela had come to the Secunderabad station to surprise and receive me. Since I was not expecting anybody to receive me at Secunderabad, I had decided to go to Hyderabad in the same train, as I was to stay in a hotel near the station there till the marriage. When the train halted at Secunderabad and all the passengers had alighted, I found a shoe shine boy to polish my shoes and sat back to relax and read inside the compartment.
Urmeela missed seeing me anywhere and decided that I had changed my mind about the marriage and had given her the slip. She went back home and was inconsolable with the entire household in panic as all arrangements had been made for the wedding in the evening.
Just picture the scene. Those were days when there were no telephone connections and I in any case was living off a suitcase as a travelling trainee. The family did n0t know how or who to contact and there was a pall of gloom.
After checking into the hotel at Hyderabad and showering and changing, I got myself an auto rickshaw and reached Urmeela’s home around 11.00 in the morning and there was stunned silence but great joy in seeing me. Urmeela was quite furious and till I calmed her down was ready to call off the wedding for having put her through the experience earlier.
Till the day she died, the one joke that would lighten up her mood was her husband’s tryst with a shoeshine boy at the Secunderabad railway station on his wedding day!