It was around 4:00 in the morning. Bilkis Begum was doing her best to stay awake. She was sitting beside her two little boys -- one aged seven months and another about 10 years -- deep asleep on a kantha (quilt) spread over the floor.
They were in front of a ticket counter at Kamalapur Railway Station yesterday.
The woman from Shahjahanpur came along with her children around 7:00pm on Monday and queued up for tickets to go home before Eid. She brought food from home and had dinner and sehri there so that nobody could grab her spot.
"I have to get it [ticket]. I had to do the same last year. It's painful but what can I do?” Bilkis told this newspaper.
Bilkis, who runs a makeshift shop on the street with her husband, finally got the tickets for Chittagong.
While this correspondent was talking to Bilkis around 5:00pm, some 200 women stood in two lines for tickets, while several hundred male ticket seekers in other lines.
Most of them flashed a smile when they got tickets for their village homes to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. Some of them alleged that they did not get the tickets of their desired class.
Bangladesh Railway yesterday sold advance tickets for June 22 as it started selling advance tickets for holidaymakers from Monday.
Thousands of people thronged Kamalapur Railway Station, many of them from Monday night, to collect the tickets for June 22, when holidaymakers' mad dash to home is expected to begin. This year, Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated on June 26 or 27.
Waliul Islam Chowdhury, who works for a private firm, reached the railway station around 4:30pm on Monday directly from work. He spent the whole night in front of the ticket counter chatting with other ticket seekers.
“Every year, we have to buy tickets this way. This year, I came here much earlier and I am the second person in a queue,” he told this correspondent around 5:30am.
“I got tickets soon after the counter opened at 8:00am,” he added.
Aropa Khandakar Mila, a housewife from Uttara, arrived at the railway station with her husband Rajab Ali around 8:00pm on Monday to collect tickets for Lalmonirhat. They got tickets within a few minutes after selling of tickets began yesterday.
Rajab said the railway authorities should increase the sale of online tickets to reduce sufferings of people.
Currently, 65 percent of train tickets are being sold at Kamalapur and 25 percent online. Five percent are reserved for VIPs and other five percent for railway employees, he added.
As many as 23,912 advance tickets from Kamalapur Railway Station were made available yesterday, Station Manager Sitangshu Chakraborty said. The number of tickets was 22,122 on Monday.
While visiting the station yesterday, Railways Minister Mazibul Hoque said two pairs of special trains -- Rajshahi Special and Parbatipur Special -- were added to the train service yesterday for passengers.
Besides the advance tickets, 25,000 tickets of mail, express and local trains are being sold everyday, Sitangshu said.
Meanwhile, several passengers alleged that they did not get AC and normal cabin tickets, although they were towards the front of queues.
Aminul Islam Swapan, of Wari, said he reached the station on Monday evening and his position was fourth in his queue, but failed to get a ticket for an AC cabin. Later, he bought tickets for normal seats.
"Where have the tickets of AC cabin gone?” he asked.
About the allegation, Sitangshu said the number of cabin was limited. Apart from that, there were some quotas for the VIPs; so some might not get tickets for cabins.
Advance train tickets for June 23, 24 and 25 would be sold today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow respectively.