17 Pages

The Hunt

The place is on the Gomo-Daltonganj line. Trains stopped at this station once upon a time. The expense of having trains stop was perhaps too much. Now one sees a stray cow or a goat in the station room, in the residential quarters and the porters’ shanties. The billboard says “Kuruda Outstation, Abandoned.” Arrived here, the train slows. It gasps as it climbs. It climbs Kuruda Hill bit by bit right from here. It is a low hill. After a while the train enters a ravine. On both sides of the half-mile ravine there are blasted stones. There’s a bamboo thicket on the hill, and occasionally the bamboo bends in the wind and hits the train. Then the train 2descends and it gathers speed. Now the station is Tohri. The busiest station in this area. The junction of many bus routes. Tohri is also a coal halt. The train picks up coal. There are surface collieries all around. In these parts low-grade coal is to be found almost above ground. But Tohri’s real benefactors are the timber brokers. It is a Sal growing area. Sal logs arrive night and day by truck. They are split in sawmills and sent in every direction. Tohri’s bustle is an experience after the silence of Kuruda.