Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Diwali musings

Lying on a dusty bench on the platform, with my eyes shut, I was trying to catch a few minutes of rest. Hardly a minute would have passed, when a loud rumbling noise woke me up, and I found a column of dust settling down on me. As I struggled to cup my eyes and mouth to prevent the dust from entering in, I caught a glance of the source of interruption.

The rumble of clanging wheels and screeching brakes turned into a cacophony of human voices as the passengers milled out of a multitude of exists - doors, windows and emergency exits as well. Rubbing my eyes, partly to clear the dust and partly to clear the sleepiness, I could see black forms of people carrying an odd assortment of bags and baskets, chattering loudly. Loud enough they were for this unearthly hour, and the language too I couldn't make out. But it sounded a bit like Odiya/Bengali and I tried to read the train's plate in the dim light. I could make out Howrah in the name and assumed these were migrants, and judging from their assorted luggage, mostly labourers.

They talked with high energy, and in my sleepy state I imagined them to be relatives coming to visit their kin working in Bangalore for the Diwali festival, but I realized I could be wrong by miles. Slowly this mass of people moved on to the railway station's exits and silence descended once again on the railway station. The cold wind had driven the passengers waiting for their trains and the vagabonds to seek refuge under their warm clothes/blankets. Many fully shrouded figures lay sprawled or hunched over the otherwise deserted railway station. Some were still moving about, mostly trying to find a good spot to keep them warm.

After a few more minutes of scanning the scene, I decided to get back to my pseudo nap. Hardly an hour had passed since the announcement was made about the train's delay and there were couple more to kill. I adjusted my backpack to get the softest parts right underneath my head and closed my eyes, telling myself to take a controlled nap. I must have dozed off for 10 minutes, before the buzz and bites of the blood suckers harrowed me out of my peaceful existence.

Unable to sleep, I lie there thinking of the exams I had and felt the tiredness grow within me. Having sent my wife ahead of me, I was supposed to write my exams and catch up with her at Chennai for out first Diwali. Suddenly, feeling the strong urge to jot down after a long time, I sat there keying with typos on my phone's notepad app. The last minute preparations, tiring journey to the exam centre, and the nerve racking exam itself. All these floated past my mind in those few minutes of reflection, slowly drawing away the tiredness.

Catching the shady figures moving around from the corner of my eye, I decided to stop the jottings and catch a final session of rest hoping not to fall into deep slumber before the train finally arrived. I was glad for this solo journey, having had taken a long break from it for over a year. Like the hundreds of life forms that take refuge in the crevice of a rock or a tree, such pockets of solitude offer much to the creative life forms within your head.


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