You don’t like mornings, especially early mornings and then you have to wake up one fine weekday as early as 4:00 and your groggy-self hates everything. You drag yourself off the bed, get dressed and open your eyes only to the whiff of coffee. 1 sip and you are okay, 2ndsip and you think you’ll bare the longest day, 3rdsip and you know you have no other choice. So you breathe the longest breath of the day and paste an unsolicited smile, only to realize it’s already 5:15 and you need to rush so as to not to miss the train. Moushmi, RUN!
The next 4 hours are going to be arduous, with sitting in a chair car, next to your family, when they will be gossiping about this and that, and your brother will be dozing off, when the vendors will move past you in the aisle, making you wonder why exactly do you chose the aisle seat, when your thoughts will run fast, faster than the train is supposed to be moving. So much for a super-fast express train!
And so, to save yourself from your own thoughts you turn to your over-emphasized sling bag and take out the book that you are reading, not giving heed to the glares of other people around you. As it happens the book that you are reading diverts more than your thoughts. Your thoughts have a chain, Ishmael, the protagonist is even sooner to drop the chain and ramble on and on! After a while you are bored and you have the urgent need to drop the book, drop his ramblings, drop your thoughts and just turn off.
Turn off you do, and the next time you turn to your wristwatch, it is 10:25. You should have reached by now, technically. But your train is late and now you are fidgety. You have been sitting in the same position for four hours and you are tired, simply from sitting. You want to get up, move, walk, run- away from everything, because you know just how the day is going to go. In a swift, yes, but that swift is going to disrupt your peace of mind even further. You are already clinging on to loose threads of peace now; the threads are just going to get looser.
10:50 and you are crawling through the station. As you get down, the swarm of people wanting to get their butt off that sinking train blasts past you and you just mingle with them, towards a taxi booth. You reach the longest line that you have seen and then you switch to the post paid taxi booth where the crowd is thinner. You reach to end of the line, only to realize that the people standing in front of you are familiar. The bell rings at the back of your mind, and you know they are your friends!
They are your friends from way back, you have known them since ages, they were, sorry, are important. You want to approach them, but you are already blank, you know what are they going to ask you, what will they want to know about you, you know that you are supposed to make a move, talk to them, you want to do that too, but then you just don’t have the energy to do that. It is 11 in the morning and you don’t have the energy? What the hell are you talking about? They are the friends with whom you used to hang out almost everyday. What happened? What just happened? They see you, they are smiling, they are waving and that unsolicited smile is already back on your face and you are returning their ‘Hi’. But that is it; there is nothing more. You want to say so much more, you want to, but as I said there is no energy left. You just smile once more, thank that the taxi that you have been waiting for has arrived and just jump into it. You stink Moushmi!
What happened! Really what just happened! Why have you been transforming into this lame person? Why, exactly are you losing your cheery self. Life is good! There are people who have real suffering and they are still battling the war, what the hell is wrong with you! Why exactly you are losing the luster? Why the distant approach to everything? Sure, people get busy, it’s not their fault, life happens. Yeah, that’s the point life happens! You have lost the luster for life; you have lost the luster to live! Or did life lose you?
The taxi moves on, and your empty stomach grumbles from within and you just don’t care. You have reached your home; at least you are supposed to be calling this home too. It’s a relative’s place, actually. Anyways, you have reached home and you haven’t even opened your shoes yet, when that tiniest little kid, whom you have not met in ages rushes at you, literally stumbles upon your legs, jumps on you and demands to be taken up in your arms. Well, what choice do you have? You pick him up, and without any exchange of words, that angel of a person plants a chaste, barely audible kiss on your cheek! What else do you need? Like a fool you melt, and think to yourself, “What is wrong with you, you don’t even drool over kids so much!”
Okay, its over and you hide the lump in your throat, the family members come across at you like a swarm of bees, and you want to avoid each one of them, but you know you can’t so you brace yourself with phony smiles and words of love that you don’t know were where, when you needed them in front of your friends!
The day goes on! The festivities and laughter and food stretch all day long. There is only one person whom you can barely talk honestly too, or as far honest as you can get. Honest is a weighty word here, let’s go with real! So you sit down and talk your tired hearts out to each other, all the while knowing so much is still unsaid behind those fake laughing eyes. But you don’t press in the fear of being pressed too. You tag along. She is so young and so dead, you think, but not so dead too. That kid, you remember? She is her mother! She is younger than me, well only six months, but she is married and she has this kid and she says she is happy. You know you wouldn’t want that kind of a life for yourself, yet as you see her “fulfilling the duties” of a daughter-in-law you get a tinge of jealousy in yourself. Actually, it comes rushing when that kid does something but all the same you are jealous and it is exchanged with guilt then and you want to run away!
Run away, you do! You have a reason to get something from the nearest store, and you run as fast as you can, your shoes digging in your heels. But you let that happen anyway. The next day there are going to be three sores there, but you will think about that later!
It is then, that you realize that you have literally lost your mind getting jealous at nothing, at someone’s life you don’t even like!
You can’t roam about the entire day when there are people relying on you for something, in this case that ‘thing’ you went to buy. Oh, you forgot that thing in running and head back again, buy it and stroll home! It’s teatime and you are looking at the clock, ticking one second at a time, waiting for 7 so that you can go back to that dreaded train and return to the actual home. The tea, the talks, the people, nothing helps in peace, not the things that they keep discussing about, not how they consider it and not even that they are doing it in front of me. You tag along, smiling from time to time.
Languidly, taking its own time the clock strikes 6:50 and it takes more than 10 minutes to finally say our goodbyes and then there is no taxi downstairs. Neither is an Ola/Uber around. After a while one of them finally shows respite and a taxi comes after another 10 minutes. We are losing time but the driver isn’t. He refuses to converse in Hindi or English, all the while talking in his mother tongue. You can tell he can understand both the languages pretty well, but he just doesn’t want to make it easier for you. Then he tells you that you have put the wrong destination and so he’ll drop you a good 10 minutes walk from the railway station. Everyone is too tired to argue, but you just can’t go with anymore wrong. So you tell him that if the destination was wrong then why is the GPS still telling him to head east and continue for 1km to reach the said destination. He grunts but he heads on! You pay him in cash and he bluntly tells you in his mother tongue that he won’t give a single rupee change. You are done with wrong for the day; you are tired and done. You take the money back and waste another 5 minutes fumbling in everyone’s pockets for change and pay him the exact amount. You don’t care if it looks meager but you don’t pay him a single rupee more!
You walk to the platform, as expected the train is late and you sit on deserted seat, munching on a sandwich which is supposed to be your dinner. It’s not the best but it will have to do!
All your seats are middle or top berth in a three-tier compartment. This is no more a chair car. But you need to be awake. You know you are too tired too lie down. You know you will sleep. You can’t rely on alarm clocks!
As the clock ticks 9 everyone in your compartment wants to sleep. You wonder why people, who usually sleep at 1 or 2 at their homes, surfing on their phones, go off to sleep early in trains. But they want to sleep and they have their seats. And no, they won’t exchange for four hours too. So, everyone sleeps. You climb to the top bunk, cuddle with your phone and think how are you going to be awake for the next few hours in the dark. Your phone battery is at 30!
Okay, that is not bad. 30 can keep me alive and make me reach home! You open soundcloud and gaana, but your Internet is down. You think of dozing off too, with an alarm of course. But that seems a risk too much. The train is going to keep moving and you might end up reaching Mumbai! However, tempting that may sound you just don’t want to prolong your stay away from home. And you stay awake!
At 10:11 you jerk awake! Thank god!!
Okay, you need to do something. With the Internet down, and no lights, music and your book is out of the question. You think of opening the kindle app but you are too sleepy to read. Call someone!
Really? You’ll have to call someone? Why bother them?
At 10:35 your neck bumps against your phone, you call the only friend you can turn up to ANYTIME!
He picks up after the 3rdring, and you talk and sure, you are awake as soon as your city is approaching! You wake everyone up with knowing smiles, thinking what were they thinking sleeping so peacefully? Who was going to wake them up? You don’t tell them this, but you gather your things and get moving. You breathe in the familiar air, and pass the second longest breath of the day!
Peace? You don’t know but better than what you had all through that day. The car is being fetched in the parking area and the guilt, the emptiness, the jealousy all comes crawling back. This time it is not with anyone. It is just there. You are not thinking about anyone, but you know, you just know that you don’t have it altogether!
While you are waiting for the car, you see a man, a well-groomed man who is walking towards his own vehicle, but is definitely out of his minds. He is rude to his family, is ill mannered in his ways of talking, and is screaming in the night at someone for parking a bike in front of his car. Well, he doesn’t even leave the coolie and haggles with him till his demands are met. While his driver moves their car, he is callously touching himself, with the other hand itching at his man-breasts. And you say to yourself that you sure have it together better than him!
You let the days troubles go, and you make fun of that man telling your blogger friends how a middle-aged man kept touching himself in public, and how much of a turn off that was for you!