By C.E. Pereira
Chapter 7 – Liza’s first train ride
LIZA’s daddy was a railway man. He worked in a railway workshop where locomotives and passenger coaches were assembled and repaired.
Four times a day the whistle was sounded at the workshop. They were at 7 o’clock in the morning, then at lunch break there were two whistle and the last at 4 o’clock in the evening. Liza looked forward to the 4 o’clock whistle, knowing her Daddy would be back soon from work.
When she was sick, she got to go to the workshop dispensary to see the doctor. But what made the day was seeing those locomotives up close. Liza was always in awe and seven-heaven with these iron horses.
Liza was seven years old when she first she saw a steam locomotive. She stood in awe watching the smoke bellowing out the funnel while steam kept hissing at every interval.
If Mummy wasn’t holding Liza’s hand she would have wandered right up to the steam engine. But Mummy knew better, her little one was in one of her day-dream mode so she kept a tight hold on Liza.
Liza’s eyes followed her Daddy handing over the platform tickets to the train conductor. Then her Daddy lifted her up into the train first before doing the same for her two brothers. Then up came Mummy and Daddy.
The train journey was about to start but Liza was pouting. Her two brothers got the window seats while she had to sit on Mummy’s lap. She wanted the window seat. But Daddy said no. Daddy said she was too little to sit near the window. So Liza pouted for as long as she could.
Then the train started to move, slowly at first then faster as it picked up speed making a steadily increasing chugging sound. The whistle sounded a few times when leaving the station. And throughout the journey Liza heard the whistle sound whenever they were nearing a station.
Leaving the city, they passed a lot of squatters and slums. The railway tracks took them across bridges, the river flowing underneath. Liza saw wooden kampung houses, acres and acres of rubber trees and oil palm estates. Her two brothers kept her entertained by pointing out all these interesting things that they
spotted out the window.
Then there was the people walking up and down the aisle either going to the washroom or the dining car. At one of the station the train stopped, an ice-cream man came to their window. And Daddy bought ice-cream for Liza and her two brothers. Liza was having so much fun riding the train.
But as the morning turned into afternoon, Liza’s eyelids started to droop. The little one tried to stay awake but lost the battle. The rocking motion of the train and the chugging sound was like a lullaby. Soon little Liza was asleep on her Mummy’s lap dreaming.
Hours later when she awoke, her Daddy was carrying her off the train. From her Daddy’s shoulder she waved goodbye to the big black steam engine with smoke bellowing from its funnel and steam hissing from the engine. Liza’s love for steam locomotives was just beginning.
Cont: Chapter 8