On Trains

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11/09/2015 by Siddiqui Fayesal

The train zoomed past trees
And buildings and electric
Poles.

The trees waved away the
Weary travelers; at times with
Inching shadows and at times
With a splatter of water.

It shook itself dry and
Drenched us who
Stood at the doors
Of the iron cabin.

The buildings wore a
A sour countenance as its
Blurry and brown
Façade threw itself out
Of harm’s way to
Let the machine pass.

Their walls were lettered
With adverts
And faces, sometimes legible
Sometimes not; but always
Colourful and always with
A story to tell.

The electric poles saluted
As the train whizzed past it
Doubling up and traveling
Equal to its length.

We measured distances
In school with such poles
For math class.
Although, we did on paper
And only for exams.

Never for real.

But this, here, was a real
Feast. My eyes slipped in one
Image in its center and soon
Caught on to another.

A human eye could only see
That much beauty in a space of
A train-second.

A train-second is very unlike
A normal second.
It is only a moment,
Unmeasurable and unquantifiable,
For which the vast
Beauty of the never ending
Indian landscape is
Caught in the very centre
Of the eye.

It then has to be let go.
It copies itself on the
Inside of your eyelids,
Ready to be beckoned
At will.

It has to be let gone because
There is another prettier,
More abstract form of beauty
To take its place.

In India, the landscape
Is measured in colours and
Languages and attires.

In India, the colour of the earth
Changes with a cycle of a
Kaleidoscopic, but very
Random, regularity.
There’s no saying what you’d
See next.

The wet sands give way to
Yellow mustard fields
Only to be replaced by
Acres and acres of banana
Plantations.

The yellow of the mustard
Cuddles up with the greenish
Hue of the banana trees,
But before you could write
A story, it would be replaced
By black and blue bamboos
Of the sugarcane fields.

The marriage of colours
Along with the separation
Of terrain and the
Magic of the local
Tune of the dialects
Is a dish served with
A love unseen, unpalatable
And unknown to our taste.

But the exploding of the
Tightly packed morsel
Invades ones senses
And endears it in a world
Of its own making.

The train halts at the
Station and I hop out of it.
I pull my bag tighter around
My waist and hitch it up
As I walk to the gate
Where I know some wait.

One journey ends, and
Another begins.

I meet some old timers,
Now doubled in count;
Some fair weathered ones
Whom I know since long
Now,
And a new face, that
I never saw before,
Peeks from behind the
Open boot of the car.

One journey ended, and
The other had begun
Without me.

But I was a part of
It now.

Siddiqui F.
(02.09.2015)

Note: This was written at my desk after I returned from a trip to Munnar. I had planned to write about the visit, but I somehow ended up writing about the train journey rather than the visit per se. Also, if one was to notice, this is a train journey describing routes and landscapes for the northern part of India rather than the South. Deal with it!

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