Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Musings on Rails - 1

Chai… chai!!…’ I jerked back into consciousness from a drowsy trance-like state that I was in. Only the gentle rocking and the rhythmic beat of the train can put one in this state. It was a few moments before I had my bearings right. I gave an annoyed glance at the perpetrator of the noise. However he was probably used to getting such looks and nonchalantly carried on announcing his presence. Stifling a yawn, I looked out of the window.
The train had just pulled into the station of one of those nondescript small towns that dot the Indian landscape. It was late evening and the station was busy with hawkers peddling their wares, from sliced cucumber with a dash of rock salt to boiled eggs. As I looked on I wondered how many trains came to this station in a day. And how much did these people make. Presently the vendor selling tea made a second pass and this time he elicited a favorable response from me. I curled up with my cup as a slight chill had set in. Served in small earthen mugs, it had a very unique taste. And I got this childish thrill out of tossing the cup out of the window when the train ran at high speed, knowing I wasn’t polluting the environment. Then I noticed a sudden increase in the tempo of activity. Craning my neck I caught a glimpse of the reason for this. The stationmaster was waving a green flag at the train. As people completed their last minute purchases the train started moving.
The train pulled out of the station and gradually picked up speed. Soon the town receded. I made a mental note to remember this place, knowing too well that I would never recognize it again. Soon the houses gave way to vast, seemingly endless fields stretching out into the horizon. Sometimes in the distance there would be a lone farmer walking back with his cattle. There was not a house in sight. It made me wonder where he stayed and how long it would take him to reach there. Questions I would never know the answer to. At times I spotted a light-pole with a single light burning on it and a pump providing the much-needed water. Occasionally the train went over small bridges that just had wasteland below them; scattered patches of grass and shrubs and at times a seldom used dirt track. Made me wonder why a bridge was needed there in the first place.
Soon the sun melted away below the horizon and the evening blended into dusk. There is a curious mix of light and shadows at this time that plays with ones perception of the surroundings. It’s quite difficult to visualize anything clearly and the motion of the train does not help. Soon figments of imagination manifest themselves into the weirdest of forms. And suddenly the place was engulfed by darkness. Except for a few distant spots of light, the train seemed to be going through some void in space. It was like a small world of its own, with a thousand odd people travelling through infinite black space.
And there outside was another world. A world I was permitted to get just a fleeting glimpse of. A world that I would never be a part of.

5 Comments:

Blogger J@$m!ne said...

Excellent post!
Reminds me of my day-long trips to Gujarat.. the only difference being food,more food and lots more food...

8/22/2006 6:32 pm  
Blogger 666 said...

Brilliant. I have centred so many stories I have written around train journeys. I believe a train is the perfect setting for a short story.

8/23/2006 6:32 am  
Anonymous Aru said...

"Sometimes in the distance there would be a lone farmer walking back with his cattle. There was not a house in sight. It made me wonder where he stayed and how long it would take him to reach there..."-- this exact question has remained unanswered since ages. continue ........

8/23/2006 7:55 pm  
Blogger EQUINOX said...

thanks all!!... guess anyone who has travelled across India can identify with this is part..or full...

8/27/2006 2:32 am  
Blogger Vaibhav B Gogte said...

Very well-written.Kudos.

9/14/2010 10:58 am  

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