KOLLAM: One of the photographs exhibited at Chasing the Last Train show here is of a lady in rugged saree, carrying away a bundle of firewood on her head alongside a meter gauge railway track. Under the picture goes a description – this is Asanamma, who was once the most beautiful lady in the area and also the lover of an estate owner. She used to cross the railway track to meet him. She was accompanied by a gunman appointed by the landowner.
Years later, the residents of Bhagavathipuram found her estranged, wandering with a lost mind. “And now when I went to inquire about her years later, she was no more,” says Sivaji Kumar, a photojournalist whose exhibition at the Public Library Hall here features the bygone days of the Punalur – Shenkottai meter gauge. Hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, Mr Kumar captured moments of life associated with the meter gauge train that chugged its last in September 2010. “I visited the meter gauge train eight months before it came to the final halt," he told DC.
“The journey helped me to have a close watch on the pristine nature and the life associated with it. After that, I used to visit the train coming all the way from Thiruvanantha-puram on my motorcycle. These moments were captured during such journeys.” Mr Kumar had to wait for long hours to click a snap with frames set on his mind during his prior visits. “The trains were not frequent and had long gaps in-between, but perseverance paid off with a handful of good pictures,” he adds. The meter gauge train started chugging along the track in 1904. Two years later laying of tracks completed. The rail was constructed by the British in coordination with the Travancore and Madras governments. Now the reconstruction is going on for gauge broadening.