Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Most mornings

She's in her usual place most mornings when I board the train. Staring unseeingly out of the window, she seems sullen to me, or perhaps it's her near-permanent pout. Kajal, some of it already smudged, emphasises her eyes. She has a gleaming blue nose-pin.

I pick a window seat. Retrieving my book, I settle in for the journey to Churchgate. The train waits for a few more passengers. She continues to look out of the window, her expression unchanging.

The train starts with a jolt, and as it picks up speed, I quickly tie my scarf around my hair - anticipating the breeze that will soothe me but turn my hair into a crow's nest.

I steal a glance at her as the train gets into its rhythm. She has her eyes closed. Moist breeze streams in at the window and tugs at her hair. She doesn't seem to care. I, on the other hand, pull the scarf tighter, so that just my face is visible.

I lose myself in my book, occasionally raising my head to watch her as she runs her fingers through her loose hair. Flying helter-skelter, it flits around her fingers as she runs grooves in her hair to welcome the breeze. My scarf slips and I tug at it till it covers more of my face, just leaving my eyes free so that I can read.

Half an hour later, we've arrived. The train slows down as the platform appears on our sides. Fisherwomen wait to board the train we'll vacate, baskets of fish on their heads. I carefully smooth the creases on my kurta. I've taken off my scarf and I'm standing near the door. The back of my neck welcomes the fresh air and I finger-comb my hair.

I look at her. She switches off the fan above her. She drags the rubberband from her wrist and uses it to fasten her hair into a bun.

I lean out of the train, gathering its slowing pace into my body as I bend forward. One last glance. I can still see her eyes, and sullen mouth. The black veil is in its place around her head, and she has done up the top few buttons of her burkha. Her nose-pin flashes as she turns to leave the train from the other side. Our business lies on different sides of the tracks.

8 comments:

Orange Jammies said...

Your vignettes leave me feeling like Oliver Twist. And there aren't a lot of people I'd say this to. Keep writing, Ana.

eve's lungs said...

Such a superb cameo Ana . And out of something mundane like a train ride . As OJ says "keep writing"

Anonymous said...

Hey, this reminded me of Ruskin Bond's train stories...

And you know what - I too carry a scarf for my hair on most days :)

warmly,
Anjali

sukanya said...

agree with OJ!

Tharini said...

I always love the little twist at the end that you give, throwing that one single ray of light over the mystery that was building up. There is a romance in every word Ana. Its good to read you.

Thinking Cramps said...

Thanks everyone. Tharini - *blush* :) That's very kind of you!

Kristen said...

I don't really know you, but I just stumbled across this post, and I loved the innate concept you've built the story on.. Its touching..

The Weekend Blogger said...

Amzing !