There it is again, the apartment is settling in. I take one earphone out, the music still playing as my head looks around, my eyes scanning the room, my ears straining to pinpoint the source of the creaks. The apartment readjusts. It has been sitting still for too long so now it stretches its sleeping muscles and groans.
It’s three in the morning when the pipes in the walls come alive, their gurgles joining the symphony of the quiet. No taps are running and yet, blood courses through the apartment’s veins as it stirs in the dark, making me acknowledge the unwanted company.
Sometimes footsteps join in the cacophony of the pipes. They walk around above my apartment after midnight, followed by screeches of furniture moving around. Living on the last floor of a building where the door to the roof is locked and rusty with time, I try to find sense in the shuffling upstairs.
Maybe I can borrow a broom from the witch I hear every weekend, her cackles echoing from another apartment unknown, travelling through to my window and into my room. Mind you, I don’t mean a Harry-Potter-witch, but a green-skinned one with all her pointies— pointy hat, pointy nose, pointy chin, —in place. Maybe I can interrupt her stirring through the black cauldron of filth, ask to borrow her broom and fly up to the roof to find sense in the shuffling upstairs.
Or maybe I will just sit in my weird creaky apartment and ponder over its haunted-ness.
As the years go by,
you slip them
and the memories they
between plastic sheets in your
album of souvenirs.
They gather dust,
and get shifted from
the most accessible spot – right there,
to that place above the cupboard,
the one saved for things which are
not of immediate use – out of reach.
And then one day
your surroundings get dipped in
a dreamy blue of nostalgia.
Sudden or with reason,
the nostalgia sinks into you,
and plays you like a
taking your hand
and making it reach into the
foggy recesses of a corner which is out of reach.
It plays you a tinted
starring those who told you to ‘keep in touch, okay?’
and those who do.
The albums keep
but you still find yourself
the details missing
and the facts blurred,
but the comfort of the washed out
memories remaining warm and
And I hadn’t quite grasped the meaning of it back then. Your words always had a way of baffling me. And even though your face is fading away from my memory with every passing moment, your words, your words still echo through me clearly and sharply.
Time is indeed a thief, it is a criminal for taking you away from me and making me see sense in your words.
The sun beat on her back, scorching hot. The lake in front seeming cool and bottomless. She stepped forward and stood on its edge, probing into the blue stillness, expecting to see her own dull eyes looking back. But the dullness gave way to a twinkle, when instead of her reflection, various frozen happy moments greeted her from the abyss. The water now looked warm and welcoming to her, which is why she jumped into it, not really caring about its endless depths anymore. She swam under the water and around the memories, not at all bothered about how she couldn’t breathe anymore. Instead of just reminiscing about her happier-than-present past, she was now content after finally being one with it.
I covered my mouth as a huge yawn escaped me, bringing tears to my eyes.
I was standing at a dimly lit station, waiting for the train to arrive. It was 6.40 in the morning, and the train should have been here ten minutes ago.
I checked my watch again and then looked in the direction from where the local train was supposed to arrive, as if my staring at that particular spot would make it pop out of thin air. My stare wasn’t all too powerful because of my occasionally drooping eyelids, which seemed to weigh a ton.
I was running late as is, already having missed the train I usually took. And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to regret those few extra minutes of sleep.
Soon enough, a bright light could be seen approaching on the tracks. As it was still dark outside, the scene fit the idiom ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ perfectly. But then the sound of a ridiculously loud horn cut through the relatively peaceful air, making me opine that a light-less tunnel was more preferable. I would have jumped in surprise from the noise had I not been half asleep on my feet. Instead, all it did was annoy me.
‘Morning person’ is not a description I strive towards.
As soon as the train slowed down enough on the tracks, people started boarding it. I’ve always boarded trains once they fully come to a halt, but have always wondered how people manage to get onto a still-moving, albeit slowly, train. I’ve never even tried it because I’m too clumsy and filled with a perpetual fear of falling.
Once I stepped onto the train and found myself a seat (lucky!), I settled in for a good half-hour shuteye. But a loud shriek, not much unlike the train’s horn, jerked me awake. I looked around for the offending source and came across a beaming face of a middle-aged woman. My face morphed into an expression of disbelief. Clad in a bright, bright orange and green salwar-kameez, the woman did not look like the shrieking kind.
Ms. Bright Orange was now talking (over) enthusiastically to another equally (over) enthusiastic woman. They were both now rapidly chatting. The other women on the train looked just as happy, all of them now gossiping with one another, their topics ranging from “where and how have you been?” to work to children.
Only the woman sitting across from me was not a part of this reunion; she was dead to the world, her head lolling to the side and her mouth wide open as soft snores left her.
And, even though, all that chattering prevented me from getting even a wink of sleep, I didn’t mind. I was fascinated by the fact that something as simple as traveling by the same train everyday had created this bond of friendship among the women.
Not more than ten minutes had passed when I heard singing. It was coming from the coach next to the one I was sitting in. A man’s voice was belting out an old Bollywood song, while other voices joined him occasionally. When the song came to a finish, there were several voices making demands of which song they wanted to hear next. Soon enough, one more song was being sung. This went on for the rest of the journey.
The train seemed alive. The chirpy voices of the women talking over each other, laughing at intervals over some joke or the other. The continual singing in the background. My sleep was now long forgotten, and I was left wondering if all the trains were like this.
I knew that the train which I usually took wasn’t so lively. Most of the people on that train either slept or stayed busy on their smartphones. My usual train was quiet.
But this, this was different. New. And even though I wasn’t fond of chatter and noise, I found this environment appealing. Maybe I would get tired of it if I had to go through it everyday, but once in a while wasn’t so bad a notion.
I got off the train at my station, mind filled with a myriad of thoughts.
I had never thought that friendships could be formed just by traveling on the same train frequently. I had always assumed that forming bonds took a lot more effort than that, but one single train journey had proved that friendships didn’t need effort, all they needed was intention. An intention to know someone, a willingness to open up.
And the same went for fun. Instead of shushing the man who was singing in the train, the others had joined in. If one joins in on the fun, they have a good time too.
Even though my college timings wouldn’t let me travel on that train again (unless I overslept), I knew that this was one journey I couldn’t possibly forget.