3 A goods train and few musketeers in first year of their teens

Can enthusiasm and discipline go hand in hand? Can an urging curiosity be always be manageable? Can embarrassment we feel at one moment of life; would amuse us later on? Experience sometime scares us to take risk and acts against innovation and hence I believe amateur professionals are more enterprising.
It was appearing a threat to my father’s reputation, a painful incident that I never thought to discuss with anyone else. I never get courage to tell this truth to my father either who has been kind enough throughout my life and get relieved easily. The “time” healed everything and now since facebook and blogs are there I thought of using it as a medium of “confession”.
I was part of a camp of “Scouts and Guides”. It was probably second week of January 1989 and I was in ninth grade which I remember correctly. After a continuous pleading for months, my father allowed me to take part in this camp. It did not happen so easily. I had to promise him to devote some more time on my study table. It was a great deal, I thought, because, I could do activities of my choice completely aloof from my mother’s strict discipline in which I had to sit in front of books twice a day in morning and evening. Citing me as an example my friends also got approval from their respective parents.
I was studying in LKP High School, in my village, “Banainia” in Supaul district of Bihar, a state in India. It is located between the embankments of river Kosi which is “popularly” known as sorrow of Bihar. This village claims to be super naturalist. Even now the glorious economic liberalization could not pamper its natural habitat with artificial roads and electricity. It is a different story that villagers keep blaming the government for not providing even a basic medical facility that can be accessed within 3 hours. Luckily we had this school in our neighborhood just 1.5KM from my home. The camp was hosted in other school which was almost 10KM away. Google map of our school can be found in this link and adjacent map (My village at pointer “B” and training camp as point “A”).

Our sports teacher trained us for a week and strictly gave instruction to always act as a “team”. It was the time when unceremonious nasty words were practiced smarter than the dumb formal words. Therefore we preferred to be known as “a gang”, rather than “a team” of 12 young men. Together, we planned so many things. Since this camp was located adjacent to the railway track, there was an interesting plan. Someone told me that engine of the train was so powerful that it could spread a “5 paise” aluminum coin into one square inch of a thin blade once the train passes through it. The camp was held for seven days. Our training was starting at 07:00 in the morning we could not get out of it until 05:30 in afternoon. In the evening there was a ritual of bonfire at 08:00PM. The schedule was so tight and discipline was so strict that the majestic spirit of “the gang” did not get a fare chance to demonstrate its worth. Rather, the team spirit had an overwhelming influence. There were multiple unelected and unannounced leaders including me in the team. The leaders did not have the essential strategic and the diplomatic moves like Chanakya, however each one of us believed to have the courage of Alexander.
On second day, when our training was over at 05:30, I was the first to show the leadership quality. I went with “the gang” to find out the tactical location of railway track where we could experiment with 5 paise coin and boast to other classmates upon return. We did not wait for a long. We heard the noise of a train, put three numbers of five piase coins on the rail and positioned ourselves with the battery operated flashlight to observe the phenomenon curiously. It was a shunting goods train moving at a very low speed. When engine ran on it, two of the coins felled apart in advance due to vibration and third one remained intact in its position. We observed it spreading thin and falling besides the rail. We exclaimed in joy. To celebrate it, we picked the pebbles lying besides track and started throwing on the bogies of the train. It was already dark and we could see sparkle getting generating when pebbles were hitting the train. We got only 4-5 chances to repeat the process. However, the sparkle was enough to entertain us more than the phenomenon of converting 5 paise coin into a thin blade.
When we were hitting the pebbles we could not notice that through the gaps between the bogies the pebbles were landing in the adjacent parish, a small village of 20 odd thatched huts of poor people. On the other hand villagers found it strange that someone thrown so many stones from other side of railways track. When they came to enquire we were already left the scene. Landing of a stone in the courtyard of villagers from an unknown source was considered to be a bad omen. It was considered that it could bring a bad fortune to them. They were afraid but in lack of any evidence ready to forget the incidence.
We were also completely aloof from the situation. We returned back. More than half of our gang was in the camp. Bonfire was yet to start. We narrated the story of converting 5 paise coin into thin blade. The generation of sparkle got the prominence and appeared ever amusing to those who missed the opportunity to observe it in person. The gang decided to repeat the experiment in full strength next evening. When enquired with local students, we found that this goods train passes daily through that track at the same time, it was shunted to a remote station.
Next day we appeared in full strength. We collected numbers of pebbles in advance. The shunting goods train came again. We started throwing pebbles. It was completely dark and we could not see the wall of the train. This time there was a rhythm in our throws. It was systematic and periodic. The walls of the goods train was appearing the black screen of a CRO and sparkles as a hazy waves of undesired results that I could see later part of life in my basic electronics lab. There was “a pause” between two successive hits accounting for the bowing down, picking the stones and getting the right aerodynamic posture of body before releasing the stones. The generation of sparkles had a rhythmic pattern and it was appearing to us nothing less than a laser show.
So the 12 people must have thrown at least 150 stones. We were not aware that 10% of them actually landed in the courtyards of the villager. Before they could observe it again and decide to find the culprit behind it we were already disappeared. On the other hand villagers took it very seriously. It was more than a bad omen to them. It was potentially dangerous. They decided to find who were actually behind the act. It was appearing to them a major conspiracy against their clan. However completely ignorant about the potentially intimidating and dangerous situation we were celebrating like winners. Each one of us was taking pride in describing the event to other inmates of the camp. We did not stop there itself. We decided to do it again more vigorously.
It was obvious to villagers that it was happening when goods train was passing through that area. Next evening they did a good preparation. They arranged numbers of torches (flash light) and few Lathis (bamboo sticks). When we heard the noise of arrival of the train we positioned ourselves in one side of the track again. On the other side villagers positioned themselves without making any fuss. They did not want us to notice their presence. This time our vigorousness was turned into a fanatic enthusiasm, in impatience, a completely uncontrollable one. We must have thrown at least 200 stones. This time it was not a rhythm in the throw. It was random. The objective was to throw as much as we could. We did not care for the beauty of the sparkles. When the train passed away, one of the villagers blew the flash light and shouted at us, “catch them all!” His comrades also shouted, “catch them all, no one should escape!”
For a moment we could not understand the real state of affairs. However when we saw few middle aged man running towards us, we first thought they were a group of robbers and we started running towards our camp. Taking advantage of the darkness, few from “the gang” were able to escape. I also tried my best and started running with full efforts. But my legs were trapped in the dense weeds and grass and I felled down. One of them caught me and told me, “Now you should run in opposite direction with the same speed”. Each one of villagers caught one of us and took to their common place of gathering. One of them brought hurricane lamp (Lalten, the emblem of Lalu’s political party).
The moment one of them asked us “why were you throwing stones in our courtyards!”, we could understand that the stones were going through the gaps between the bogies. I assumed the leadership role again (after all it was my idea) and narrated the real story to them. They were not ready to believe. Each one of them started giving the verdict. Someone said, “Lock these rogues in our house for two days without food, these guys will learn a lesson. One of them said, “find out the homes of these guys and we will also throw stones in their courtyards.” Yet another person told, “let us bring the police.” One of the young men told, “let us punish them with 10 lashes with a bamboo stick”.
I could see the lathis in their hands. I thought I cannot withstand even one blow. I estimated the potential damage and anticipated the pain of canning. In absence of any remedy, I started crying. Others cooperated with me. The entire gang was demoaning. It was so shameful and embarrassing to face this situation in front of 6 other friends. The spirit of the leadership was challenged. I raised my chin and looked into the eyes of my so called gang. They were in the complaining mode. Experimenting with 5 paise coin was my idea. Though everyone enjoyed the experiments and they were blaming from their eyes, “hey it was your idea.”
While everyone was in complaining mood, I further started estimating which one of the punishments would be least damaging. Though, no one told me whether punishment could be negotiated at all. I thought why these guys were not giving us the option of sits-ups. I hold my ears with both of my hands the most embarrassing act of an amateur teenager and started telling them to gain their conviction, “We promise, we will never do it again.” This was our maiden and only statement after the incident.
The eldest among the villagers asked me about my father’s name. I was not ready to hear that the matter could go to my father also. However, I did not have any other option. I revealed it. I had to also reveal that we were participating in the camp. The most elder person gave the verdict. They told us that they would take us to the camp and hand over us to the authority. Now I could understand why they did not took any extreme steps. The contemporary socio-political situation of the village did not allow them to do it.
After 15 minutes we were in front of the “in charge of the camp” who happened to be the headmaster of that school. Villagers were narrating the story. Each one of them was holding a bamboo stick in one hand and flash light in other hand. Each one of them was narrating their individual version of the story, the damage that happened and other potential damages which could not happen because none of them were present in their courtyard. The headmaster started interrogating each one of us individually. The first question everyone was facing the identity of our parents and we had to reveal it.
The bonfire was already started. I could understand that those members of my gang, who escaped anyhow, must have told the story to other inmates. The incidence was ought to be reported to our parents. There would be no further permission for participating in such activities. We were standing with our heads down. The leadership was utterly tamed and enthusiasm did not get courage to show its presence. A scientist in making in his absolute state of despair started waiting for the verdict; helplessly!


  1. Though, I never find any interest to read blog and write comments, but yes i do visit blog’s, today in the morning when i logged in
    i just found elder's gtalk status "For this, do I really need to say sorry to my father! Need your opinion"....Above sentence insisted me to read...Some how i manage to completed.......Sometimes in teen age we do things which is forgivable, At this point of time as a responsible citizen, Saying Sorry !! is not enough..:-P….Share things with father (That’s what I do)don’t keep inside ..Chill out

  2. It is really interesting. I have seen few month back, this Coin-Engine-Stone throwing Experiment/adventure is still existing in that region.It will be a great article if you would relate urself by any one of them as आदि यायावर)in ur next article .
    I have no doubt that every father(s) is well aware with all these,therefore, I think, no need to feel bad for that incidence.


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