A Station Named Liligumma and other rail stories by Krupa Sagar Sahoo translated by Malabika Patel
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
Price: Rs. 249 INR(Paperback), Rs. 124 INR(Kindle Edition)
Buy here: https://amzn.to/3nZhLP7
My take on the book:
A station named Liligumma and other rail stories is a collection of one novella and eleven short stories originally written in Odia by Krupa Sagar Sahoo and translated by Malabika Patel. As the name suggests, all the stories revolve around Indian railways — the thousands who travel in it daily, the people who work in one of the largest network of passenger and freight transport, the people who worked to lay down those networks in the most remote parts of the country.
The novel narrates the story of an engineer Srikant who was assigned to work on the upcoming Koraput-Rayagada rail line. As he starts on his first major assignment, with hurdles in winning the trust of the locales who oppose any external interference, Srikanth falls in love with Kummud, the teacher in the nearby school. As he navigates bureaucratic challenges and his longing for Kummud, will Srikant succeed in completing this ambitious rail line forms the rest of the story.
The novel captures the beauty of Dandakaranya, the simple life and innocence of the local tribal, along with the hardships taken by the railway staff to build lines in such hilly terrains. Unlike a lot of stories involving railways as background, which only involve characters that board trains, this book touches the real humans who make these journeys possible for the common man. The engineers, the line men, the ticket collectors, the staff- all those who encompass the rail ecosystem.
The author himself worked for a more than three decades in the Indian railways and hence all the details shared are authentic. The author smartly narrated the real story of how these railway lines are built using fictional characters. I have personally travelled in some rail lines that were referred to in the book, it brought back fond childhood memories; and learning what went into their making is even more interesting. The language is simple, and translation is alright.
If you love reading stories from the farthest corners of the country, especially those which take you on a nostalgia ride, then definitely pick this one!