Friday, April 27, 2012

The Journey

It is at times amazing to think what a train journey can do to you. Here you are, with a hundred others, all jostling for the precious 30 minute comfort to their work place, staring out of the train window to a rare treat of countryside greenery, and contemplating the day of insults, barbs and wires and tired homecoming that lies ahead. The world rushes past you like a comet on steroid, and snippets from sepiated lives and separated lives leave their footprints on the muddy by-lanes of your heart. So there you have, naked children fighting or playing along the train tracks, poor husbands squatting and puffing their uneventful lives away, and poorer wives washing clothes stained with oil and poverty.
    And all you do is register them, capture those moments, like the glimpse of the of the first fairy you met in senior school- to whom you never spoke and whom you never forgot. You want to create this free flowing narrative out of life that's whizzing past you, a narrative that would be cathartic before the tragedy that gets played out everyday. After all, you have so much suffering in front of you, in the slums and shacks, the perfect material for a write- up, one man's misery is another man's poetry.
    And right at that moment, you see yourself on the verandah of a green and gold building. Clad in a greyish T and shorts, you see a mirror in a 13 year old boy waving calmly to the train passing by. It is not a frantic wave, not one to draw attention, or a war cry to everyone occupying the window seat, to get noticed. It is a Morse Code to himself, a calm resignation, a sea Captain's assurance to his storm ravaged ship- that "I" exist. He'll be there when the next train passes by, and then the next, and then the next....Every wave, gesture and smile a testimony to the thousands beside the windows that he is "there". A slap on the face of his classmates for the  alienation he faces in school; a silent retort to the huge groups he cannot belong to. It is the corridor to the world where he is the King, the Knight, the Day and the Rain. Where he will save princesses and breathe fire, where dragons are toothless and witches powerless. It is that 7 seconds of fame that we all crave for- in the congratulations of teachers and a  sudden smile of recognition of the woman we are wooing.
      And yet, maybe that kid is nit alone in his solitude. Loneliness is the worst species of termites, devouring the soul and gnawing away at the heart. What could be more tragic than a young heart ostracized inside the classroom, and an outcast in the neighbourhood. What could be more painful than the realization that you are mocked because you speak not in your mother tongue, but in a language they will pay to learn later. it is then you escape to a world of words, your words, others' words, words as swords, words as oxygen cylinders- Madonna's words, Dicken's words, words which whisper, words which wail. The world you inhabit is where women smell of new books, where MTV International and VH1 are church songs and where GOD Moonwalks to HISTORY. News paper clippings, Hollywoood trailers are your friends, and you unburden the secret of the new girl in the school bus in the last page of the maths exercise book.
    You look at the young kid and all these images flash-flood into your mind. Its like arranging a nightmare in a sequence, so that you don't miss any details while recounting it to your beloved, an effort to remember things you wanted to forget once. By the time, all visions, revisions slither away inside the snake pit of the subconscious, the sight of the 13 year old "new" you has also gone by. And all that remains, is the sound of the fleeing train between two stations.

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