I am fascinated by people, their lives and their stories. There is something interesting in the ordinary lives and gestures of people that touch my heart and prompts me to write about the things I see. I wasn’t this way earlier, I wasn’t interested in people before, it’s only when I’ve started writing, I’ve become an observer. I see and I write, I read and I write some more. A train journey has always been a source of inspiration, a medium to know people. As I travel to Delhi today, I witness the similarity between our lives and a train journey. We board a train, pass different stations, interact with people, encounter fields, rivers, and bridges to finally reach our destination. The next 7 hours in this train is my chance to witness life as it is…
As I write this, I see people from all the stages of life travelling along with me. There is this little girl, sitting on her father’s lap who is smiling all the time. Contrary to the other kids her age, I haven’t seen her crying a single time. I haven’t seen such a happy toddler before. Watching her from a distance, I reminisce about my childhood, about the times I was a happy kid just like her. My mom told me that I was a cheerful little girl who would never cry, never throw tantrums and would always smile no matter what. I wonder how time has changed me into a depressed soul. I miss the times I was as carefree as her.
A guy who almost looks my age is sitting in the opposite row. Every time my eyes turn towards him, I find him staring at me and as soon as his eyes meet mine, he looks away. I wonder what he’s thinking about. Do I look like an insane stranger who is scribbling things on her notepad, or do I look like a long lost sister or girlfriend? Well, I wonder if he’s thinking about me at all. I can only assume things, that is the best thing about writing, you can write your own stories, you can make anyone a priest or a rapist. It all depends on your imagination.
A newlywed couple is sitting right next to me. It’s easy to spot newly married Indian girls with their bright clothes, arms adorned with henna and bangles, though it’s much difficult to identify married men, they always look the same. Coming back to the couple, initially they looked completely smitten with each other, you know, holding hands, smiling, looking into each other’s eyes and all the other gestures but midway through the journey, they had a huge fight. I pretended to be asleep but heard the whole argument. The guy was angry as one of the girl’s friend called him fatty. I don’t know how such petty reasons led to such a serious fight. They didn’t speak for the rest of the journey. The girl actually apologized and tried to solve the matter but the guy was hell bent on destroying those beautiful moments of their life. I wonder how people who had vowed to spend the rest of their lives together just a day or two before, found it so hard to avoid fights over insignificant issues. May be that’s how it is and things get better with time. I predict this, seeing another couple who are sitting on my other side. They look completely at ease with one another, happy, content and understanding. They were chatting when the journey started, slept in between, had lunch and slept again. They kind of followed a routine. Is this how life turns out to be- a routine?
To find my answer I start looking for more people and I observe an old man sitting diagonally opposite to me. He’s travelling with his wife and is reading Five Point Someone, such unusual choice for an old man. I have never seen old folks reading Chetan Bhagat’s books, I wonder what made him pick up this book. I had read this book when I was in high school and was 15 years old. I see him laugh while reading the book, and I wonder if he’s finding the same things funny as I did. They say old people start behaving like kids at some point of time; I assume it to be true.
This journey from a little girl to an old man fascinates me in every way possible. I’ll probably forget these people and their faces as soon as I get down from this train, what I won’t forget would be the things I saw, the feelings I deciphered, the little girl and her comparison to my own childhood, the young guy staring me and those instances when his eyes met mine, the newlywed couple with their small differences, the routine life of another couple and an old man with an unusual choice for a book at his age. With this train journey I witnessed the different stations of life, stations I’ve already passed and stations I’ll encounter in my journey further. There’s so much more left to experience.
My journey by this train would be over in the next fifteen minutes, and the journey of my life, well I hope it lasts for a much longer time…
( Written on a train on 16 May 2013)