Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Train, Of Thought

He yawned his sleep away, wiping the tears from his tired eyes. He never could sleep on trains, and didn't on this one either. He looked out the window, his cheek resting on the grill. Dawn was forming, the promiscuous sky welcoming her new lover, looking forward to the new clothes he would bring...he would get off soon. Looking at the sun prepare his canvas for the day, he smiled, remembering other days, other trains, other journeys, other dawns.

He scanned the compartment he was in -- empty except for the tramp snuggled against the toilet door, and the college kid in the next booth, with loud music filtering out of his head-phones. Newspapers lay strewn along the aisle. Some had been read, and then thrown away, used. Some had served other less noble purposes. The stories, the reports, the cartoons -- now shunned for the latest. Occasionally, a swirl of wind would catch the papers and spin them around in an eddy. The papers would play along, happy for the momentary respite from lying around, feeling used. Some memories were like that. A forgotten emotion would come by and swirl them around, examining everything that had not happened, everything that had not been said, before leaving those frames from yesterday in their resting places, along with others of the past...Yesterday was fleeting, fading, and today never stayed. Tomorrow is only what everybody has. The next hour, the next meeting, the next station...

The train trundled along steadily. The wind ran its fingers through his travel-weary hair, parting it in newer patterns, almost as if fascinated to see how he would look if he'd combed it differently. He felt the chill of the morning in the hollow of his prickly, unshaved cheek. He pulled his collars up and hunched deeper into the corner of his seat. And in doing so, felt the pressure of the ticket in his pocket against his chest. Instinctively, he reached inside, feeling for it, reassuring himself from the coarseness of the paper that it indeed was the ticket. Everyone took care of their tickets. Except the ones who never bought one, of course. Some got good seats, some didn't. But everyone took good care of their tickets. At least, they tried to. Until the journey ended, that is. The tickets would then be thrown away, used. Then all that remained was to buy the next ticket, wait at the station, board the next train, and look forward to tomorrow.

The sun had climbed up a bit now, striving for a better look of his land, checking if something had changed from yesterday. He wondered if the sun ever got bored. But then it was perhaps the hope of change that kept it going. Like his hope that these rail tracks did indeed lead to a better place. Travel itself is a great exercise in hope, he thought. Of newer lands, newer dreams, newer tomorrows. Better tomorrows. But then, so is Life. So is Life. Even though we convince ourselves with iron reason that something is worth doing, we hope that the fruit tastes good. If we get the fruit, that is. And until we taste it, we never know if it will.

The train turned a bend abruptly, and drew into the station. He had to get off. Tomorrow had become today.

8 comments:

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

Much as your writing goes against the grain of Existentialism somehow the beauty of your writing makes me conveniently by pass it and revel in the imagery...yes there are ofcourse hidden "home truths" like the sweet cream sandwiched between the layers of thick crusted biscuits...and for ppl who are interested in the "cream" they have to first bit the thicker crust first...though grudgingly they do it they realize that the crust is sweeter than the cream....

Ah well I still want the cream....

Brood Mode said...

"...remembering other days, other trains, other journeys, other dawns"

each one so different, yet they merge into one with the passage of time.

"The stories, the reports, the cartoons -- now shunned for the latest."

do u mean what i think?

"...we convince ourselves with iron reason that something is worth doing, we hope that the fruit tastes good"

ultimately it all comes down to mere hope , doesn't it?

Samudraa said...

"If we get the fruit, that is. And until we taste it, we never know if it will"

Why even bother if we will get there,isn't the journey beautiful in itself?!

The train turned a bend abruptly, and drew into the station. He had to get off.

And some journey miten't end really!

liked this piece a lot.....the narration was very flamboyant and smooth.However,nothing can beat "challenge" :)

. : A : . said...

Very very visual. I really liked the imagery here. Also the bit you said about travel, it is so true:

"Travel itself is a great exercise in hope, he thought. Of newer lands, newer dreams, newer tomorrows. Better tomorrows."

consumerdemon said...

got off the train.. waiting for the next one... want to go away, far, far away.

Samudraa said...

"papers would play along, happy for the momentary respite from lying around, feeling used. Some memories were like that"


beautiful :)

Ravi said...

Rajesh....so true and very well written: " Travel itself is a great exercise in hope, he thought. Of newer lands, newer dreams, newer tomorrows. Better tomorrows. But then, so is Life. So is Life!" Thanks for the insight, buddy! :)

musafir said...

@girish...!: Thanks - appreciate the appreciation :). Off the topic, sometimes you don't have to go through the crust to get to the cream ;)

@Brood Mode: You are right - sometimes with a few things, hope is all you have to go with. Life is just one long day, and yes, I mean everything that those lines make you think.

@samudraa: Journeys are beautiful, I agree, and some may never end too, but one can't help but think of where all this is leading to.

Glad you liked the bit about the papers fluttering :)

@.:a:. and ravi: Thanks for your words - that bit about travel is very close to my heart!

@consumerdemon: I understand what you say - sometimes there's an overwhelming urge to drop everything and run away :)