Life in the Railway Colony - Memories of Childhood

Life in the Railway Colony

Life in the Ponmalai Railway Quarters - A Close-Knit Community

Life in the PONMALAI RAILWAY quarters were vastly different from contemporary life. I spent my childhood in the railway colony where we would float paper boats during monsoons, climb trees in our garden, play outdoor games like ghilli and bamparam in the park, and pelt mangoes and tamarind at strangers' houses adding an element of mischief to our golden days. We would play cricket in the morning and hide & seek (ice boy) in the evening after dark.

Childhood Memories of Playing, Celebrating, and Exploring

The railways provided us with a roof over our heads, medical care, schools, and railway passes to travel on trains from Jammu to Kanyakumari. The railway quarters fostered a close-knit community that transcended religion, caste, and languages. We celebrated Deepavali, Christmas, and Eid together, exchanging sweets and other offerings on those special occasions. We referred to our row houses as LINE, each of which had 24 houses adjacent to one another. There was always unity among our diverse neighbors. Fortunately, we had many neighbor kids of the same age, and playing was a way of life in the colony.

We were never alone during our childhood days, as there was always a bunch of guys hanging around in the entire railway colony. There was always a partner with us to play Contra video games in our house, and nobody was ever lonely in those days. Those were the days with lots of memories.

We used to visit the shanty market every Sunday just to look at the fishes, including goldfish, black molly, white molly, and angelfish. If we accidentally received money, we would purchase a pair of fishes from the market and put them in a jar in our house. The next day morning, we lost our happiness after seeing the dead fish in the jar. We were devastated but later discovered that fishes have a greater life expectancy, and it was not economical to maintain them with a motor and oxygen supplier with the money we had in our pocket. So we dropped the plan to create a mini aquarium.

And those were the days when rose milk and sharbat were heavenly drinks for us. Still, I feel the chill in our throat when icy cold rose milk streams into the body. It is the greatest drink I have ever had in my life.

It was the greatest community that gave us great memories in our soul. We played, fought, bet, laughed, and missed those days now.