I’m standing on the platform waiting for the train. It’s past midnight. A cold wind blows through the crowd waiting under the blue neon lights and in the shadows in between. The last of the late night locomotives arrive carrying last commuters back to the city. A small tidal wave of humanity crashes on the platform and hurriedly disappears in the shadows. Hundred voices speak and murmur in unison complaining, calling, answering, swearing; two hundred feet step in the concrete sending echo in the diminishing silence. I put on my earphones.
You were the one, who gave the flower of flame tree,
I was only waiting with the symphony of that song…
Bass-Baba Sumon is crooning a ballad of loss, of a soldiers return to the epitaph of his lover. I like his songs. One of old bands of this country. His voice has this melancholic quality. My train arrives two hours late.
I sit in the grimy sit; couple of light bulbs flooding the carriage with pale yellow light. The Iron-horse carries us through the night; first through the city, by the rail crossings where people stand in solemn farewell, waiting for it to pass by, under halogen street lights. Then we enter the darkness. We pass sleeping towns, dozing railway stations, lonely bridges over weeping streams reflecting the constellations.
Inside the congregation of lonely travelers begins their travel rituals. Everyone has a ritual for their journey. The one beside me opens up the folding table in front of him and put his head on it and covers it with both hands. There are two boys and a girl behind me. They open up their snacks bag and talk their endless chatter. In the middle where four sits face each other a card game begins. Those without sit shuffle through the carriage looking for that fabled sit that’s still empty for them. A middle aged woman clad in a black Borkha sits in the passage between the sits with her round baggage.
And I? I start spinning yarns in my mind. These people become characters of my still unpublished novel which I’ll surely write one day. The two boys get their hearts broken by the girl. She leaves them for an arranged marriage. She leaves the country one day with her husband. In a house, seven seas and thirteen rivers away she starts her new life. The two boys each wonder if the other knew that he loved her. They grow old and start their own domestic lives with two maids arranged for them by their folks. One day they’ll probably meet on a journey much like this one and they’ll reminisce about the past and laugh like their fathers and mothers laughed before them.
In school we had to write essays on various subjects like Cow, River, A journey by boat etc. I couldn’t come up with plot so I thought lets write an essay now. Of course those weren’t like this. And the song by Arthohin is here-