July evenings always have tricks under their sleeves. A little ray of the sun tears down through the cloud clusters making us take guesses about the weather. It was on one of these deceptive evenings that I felt I was qualified enough to travel on a local train all by myself. When the person at the ticket counter asked me if I wanted a return ticket, I nodded in perplexity. I still have that ticket preserved in one of those boxes,that same return ticket.

“Okay, I’ll get into the ladies compartment. Ohh,Five stops? Okay. I’ll be there” 

 I cut the call and went inside the railway station where I became a bee in the bustle. I understood what swarming people were. My mind was finger counting the number of stations left for my stop as I looked around everyone suspiciously. My naive self was not so accustomed to strangers and travelling in a whole compartment of strangers felt intimidating. I mentally did a fist pump when I got down at the correct station, safe and sound. From then, trains and railway stations have become a way of life.

“For the kind attention of passengers, the next train to Chennai beach will be arriving on platform number one shortly”

    This chant has to be the title music for many of my poignant moments. I’d hear it when I entered the station and I knew I had to scurry past people and get onto the platform before it began again. I would randomly dig out train tickets from my jeans pockets every now and then. Everytime I hit meenambakkam, my phone’s internet would just shut down. So, I learnt to be extra cautious and play a long song while I approached chrompet itself. I still have songs which remind me of the trains and re-create the ambience.When the winds hit me during evenings, I’d capture it in slow motion. Oh! How many books have I finished on wheels? I’d get down in the station in absolute silence mourning over a gruesome incident in my book as the passer-by looked cluelessly at my sad face. On a saturday evening, when me and my friend were waiting in the railway station with a stack of books from our loot, the speakers announced cancellation of all trains and the arriving train was the last one. In a minute, we found ourselves squished among many other ladies, single-handedly balancing those books and making sure we haven’t lost track of each other. True test of friendship, I say. Sultry afternoons carried encounters of children and their moms who told me anecdotes which were only half finished because I had to get down at the next stop. I often wonder about the incompleteness of them. 

 I’d be sitting on a bench in the railway station while the people around me were in a timelapse. This is how every minor inconvenience looked like. I’d take a share auto and land in the station aimlessly staring at people. I’ve watched the sun set down the horizon standing on the bridge. The setting rays made the metal boogies glisten and it was one of those rare times when I didn’t pull out my phone to capture what I saw. I would just soak in the rays and colors. Let it just be.

Picture Courtesy : Vamsi

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