The wait is long, before the sound arrives. The task of finding the numbered seats is at hand, as everyone tries to get inside first, with their bags. In between all that, hands are held and farewells said, some cry, some smile and some await the stories the train has to tell.
The search for seats is always met with grunts and furious glances thrown by the annoyed travellers, as very few among them lend a helping hand. And the sigh that comes with the relief when you actually find your seat, is a true joy! Next, is a curious speculation, as you look from one passenger to the other, trying to imagine what they might be thinking about you, before a conversation is even initiated. The silence that hovers around is broken as people come and go in search of other travellers and some carrying the aroma of hot food as hunger stirs in you. But the one visitor that gives you a quick fright is the TTE, as you hurriedly search for the ticket, phone and the Aadhaar card, lying in your purse, in some corner of the bag.
Time goes on and colours change outside the window, the winds are becoming cooler as the day finally wears out, into an inky blue sky. The obnoxious thoughts once you finish eating -- about keeping the bag safe and trying to fall asleep -- keep you awake, as some sit by the window, sharing their seat, creating, contemplating, communicating with the winds. Because windows, winds and words are all about addictions, assertions and affections! The playlist on the phone, keeps calling until those headphones are plugged in, as one becomes oblivious to the world. After all, it is a conversation between the mind, the words, the tune and of course the wind that goes through your hair.
The night is always young when you are on the train. The cold breezes freezing the running time, as shivers run up the spine, there is a world worth getting lost in. The window has a lot to offer. The old lady outside her door and the sounds of children playing, the man of the house guarding his home and the tired mother going inside clutching her saree, the yellow bulbs burning into the night and the vehicles waiting impatiently for the train to pass by, all of them, have a life of their own. In the forlorn night, you create your own eutopia, looking at those who still walk in search of seats, wondering if they ever will, as everyone in the compartment is fast asleep or is scrolling through their phones, along with the rhythmic beat of the train.
Sleep is an illusion for the RAC passenger, as they try to be as polite as possible for the other passenger sitting on the opposite side and then the sporadic checking of seats and seat numbers by the TTE and other passengers who get in, in between. The upper berth is like a balcony in a theatre. The audience keep moving; either you observe all those movements with a keen interest or go back into a cocoon wondering when the journey will finally come to an end, as some look around for people who may possibly help with their boredom by sharing movies and songs. And at times, there maybe some beneath, scrutinising the watcher.
The general compartment is entirely a different story. As the rest of the train resides within the compartments comfortably, human beings race for seats for the entire journey. For those who fail, they are left contemplating between standing throughout the whole journey or sitting on the floor which would already be tightly packed by then, because no one is getting up from their seats, unless on arrival at their station. The life within is a splendid blend. People so different, breathing together without even a space to spare, occasionally arguing. The morning is all about stretching the cramped backs.
The morning glories are a sight that can not be missed. The warm rays, seeping in through the windows, as you cling on to the bars, trying to soak in all the goodness that surrounds you. Nature at its best. And you feel so good that you want to shower the world with all the love, a fleeting euphoria! There is positivity filled to the brim within your soul, which is wanting to break free and overflow, as you hear “Teaaaaa...Coffeeeee”. Despite the amount of sugar or the tad taste, tea/coffee is a mandatory on a train journey, as each sip warms your inside, just as the sun warms your skin. And some just sleep into the mornings, the atmosphere cool and silent, before the havoc begins as people slowly move out with their things and some push in fighting over the seats, waking up the sleepy heads.
It is all these little things that ever matter on train journeys. A life so diverse within a single frame, with a time period that lasts for a minute and an infinity, as you step down into the destined station. A story to recall, for every journey.