In transit

train silhouette against evening sky

I am at the station an hour before the scheduled time of departure. I never take chances. I would rather be a day early than pant in at the last moment.

I know the platform number and the position of my coach. I sit and wait. All I need to do when the train arrives is take a few steps and board, as easy as that.

It is past arrival time but there is no sign of the train. Is something wrong? I stop a passer-by.

“Is the train late?”

“Which train?”

I tell him.

“There is no such train.”

What! Is he pulling my leg?

“I have a ticket for that train.”

He walks away. Is this a joke? Or is he just crazy? But where is the train?

I spot the black coat of a railway officer in the distance and rush there. The feel of the ticket in my pocket is reassuring.

“Excuse me, when will this train arrive?”

“Which train?”

I tell him.

“There is no such train.”

“But look here, I have my ticket—first class.”

He smirks and walks away.

Nonsense! I have studied the timetable. I know the main stations on the way. I know how long the train halts at each station.

Is this a dream? Am I dozing, sitting on the bench?

rail tracks with multiple points

Here comes the train! At last!

I scramble to find my coach. Wait a minute! This is not my train. Is this train late? Will mine come later? The guard should know.

“Excuse me, sir. You know I have this ticket, first class ticket, for this train and—“

“Which train did you say?”

I tell him.

“There is no such train.”

“Don’t you start that again! This ticket—”

“I know. But I assure you there is no such train.”

I am ready to collapse. He takes pity on me.

“Maybe I can arrange to take you in this train. It doesn’t go where you want to go but it will be going somewhere.”

I thank him. I am suddenly determined. I will make it and to my place.

I approach the station master. With an exaggerated show of boredom, he pulls a crumbling register towards him and starts writing.

My name, address, intended destination ….

“Now go around to the other side, collect a form, fill it up and bring it back here.”

I want to pluck him out of his chair. With an effort I check myself. I must play it cool. This is their game. I must beat them at that.

I live through the queues. I get the form, fill it up, get it checked, get it verified and, finally, slap it down on the last table. Without a glance, it is stuffed into a box overflowing with forms.

I stumble out with a card that has reduced my identity to a number. If and when they schedule a train, suiting my purpose and going in my general direction, they will inform me. Till then, I must strictly refrain from making inquiries.

diploma certificate on train wheelsI waited. And I waited. Then I waited some more.

Finally, I started making my own attempts. Hesitantly at first, biting back all that rose to my throat. Then, very often.

Some wanted to have a look at me. Some asked questions that had nothing to do with my proposed journey. I always played the suppliant dumb. They always turned me down.

The stagnation was killing. I knew I had to move to survive. It no longer mattered where.

At long last, a train took me on.

I forget when I started this journey. I am not sure where I am going.

At times, I take out my tattered ticket just to look at it. On it is the place where I will be king.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “In transit”

  1. Don’t know what the intention of the story was, but it gave me creeps. made me feel scary. Maybe I did not understand the story.

    1. As I see it, there is no set way to understand a “story”. If it gave you the “creeps” that is how you chose to understand it. Which is fine! Thanks for reading it and responding.

Your comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s