The railways mean a lot to me, I have come to realise this. I often hate the crowds, hate the speed at which it moves, and hate the insides - but I can't deny the fact that station platforms and trains are more than memorable for me.
Platform no. 1 on Andheri station reminds me of dad. it reminds me of the times he refused to take the car out, and would make me run through patches of men idly standing, minding their own business. it reminds me of how he'd try to teach me about station codes and ticket details, how he'd explain the process of procuring a ticket, and how he'd warn me that if i were to ever travel alone, I better be the smart one and grab the starting train. I remember pretending to never listen, but i owe it to him to find my way back home each day now, only because of his random rambles.
I see dad in the men's compartment too. I rarely get into one now, unless I'm travelling with a male friend, but dad finds his way through and materialises when i'm in the rarely-not-so-crowded compartment. Memories of being sleepy, resting on his shoulders, watching him rearrange the pass in his wallet, watching him stare out the window, remembering him asking me to sleep if i wanted to and eventually complain about me crumpling his shirt, the smell of his perfume mixed with his hair oil and his thumb that i still hold on to at all times rush through a narrow hallway in my head.
I see mum and me in a smiling mother-daughter pair. we haven't really ridden the trains together all that much as far as my memory serves, but every pleasant mother and daughter remind me of my own maa. our relationship, our friendship, our fights, our lonliness, our pain, our secrets, our laughters, our tears, our screams, our favours, our comfort, our insanity, our love. I see these things, and i smile while i cry.
the distance from vile parle to churchgate is a long one, and a bumpy one at that. when you stare out the window and onto the gravel that's lining the tracks, careful not to clamber on to one, it somehow reminds you of your whole life in one long moment. the ups and downs, the rough patches, the little bits of green jumping out of the large mass of gray, the canals reminding you of tears, sewage of the ugly memories you'd pushed to the darkest corner of your murky brain, and the resplendent sky shining with lazy, easy times. broken tracks question the uncertainity of your time - all that you spent and all that's left to come. barren lands force you to think of your shortcomings, your insecurities and hope. the belief that there is still a beautiful flower blooming somewhere, fighting it's way through the soil, pushes YOU.
humour finally engulfs you. funny middle-aged women picking fights for no apparent reason, jumpy children tugging on their mother's dupattas only to earn a not-so-rewarding glare from said mother, visuals of spluttery instances with your own friends puts a smile on your face as you rest your head against the metal, already exhausted of the journey half-way through. snappy, over-groomed ladies mirroring the jerks you've come across in your years as you thank your lucky stars for moving on and earning your sanity.
when you finally near your destination and the buzzer lady addresses you one last time, you snap out and look around. this place was your brain two minutes ago. this place was you 30 seconds ago. this seat was your home for the last hour, and you made it your own. once you're off and you find your way to a cab, it marks the beginning of a whole other trip. a shorter, louder, populated trip. what did it for me though, was seeing the word 'Alvida' (goodbye) on the back of another taxi just the other day. if you really were to compare the 23.69 km train ride to your whole life, then that taxi would be your last ride through this sluggish haven we call life.