May 21, 1942
Civil Lines, Cawnpore
Train rides are amazing, aren’t they?
I’m travelling to Bombay.
It’ll take me 24 hours to get there.
And meanwhile, I am admiring the vistas here. Its such a beautiful ride. Whether it is the beauty of the train or the lands or the joy of going home, I know not.
But travelling in a train is mere bliss.
Dad always told me that trains are inconvenient. He’s more of a biker, really.
But I’ve never been a road person.
I love trains!
I feel like a train talks to me. The honk of the horn when it leaves a station which resonates with a farewell goodbye, the echo of the siren whenever a train starts which is more like a “enjoy the ride” beckoning, the whispers of the breezing wind, the variable panoramas that a window offers you, the chitter chatter in the bogies, the new faces; every trifling detail about the train amazes me.
I’m overwhelmed by a swarm of thoughts that sweep my mind, as I look at the bourgeois that thrives in there.
I think of how each one of us has a different story. I think of how we’re headed to the same destination despite having a different story.
I think of how a train witnesses such diverse encounters each day.
The toddler next to me is on his way to meet his father.
The malnutritioned man on the floor has no destination.
The grey haired lady at the end of the bogie is going to get her lungs checked up at the Cancer Institute.
The newly married couple next to me is going on their honeymoon.
The scavenger cleaning up the bathroom is on different trains each time.
The big bellied man ahead of me is quite serious. He is not willing to talk to me, or anyone else for that matter. But he has been looking at a photograph for three hours now.
His brow refused to look up. His mouth refused to twitch. His nose kept flaring. He was stifling the tears that kept welling up in his eyes.
“Betrothed”, my mind yelled.
The crippled boy behind me is chattering away with his grandpa.
And as for me?
I’m a traveller.
I capture the memories people make.