Metro Diaries: The Journey of Life
‘Churchgate Local will leave in 12 minutes from platform no. 2.’ The nasal twanged announcer screamed into my ears as I tried to reach platform no. 2. Having just shifted to Mumbai a month back my woes had just began and I was far from getting used to it.
Since childhood I was taught the importance of being punctual and respecting others time. I had grown up on those principles but destiny had sent me to a city where time was something no one had control on. You had to leave hours in advance to reach somewhere on time and if you are the chosen one then the train would be delayed making you late or worse you would be stuck in a traffic jam for hours together. Traffic and train – are the two most widely used and accepted reasons for delay by anyone and everyone in this city.
|Source: Google Images|
The other most annoying thing for me was that everyone seemed to be in a hurry to reach somewhere as if it was the last train from where they would be transported to Earth or else they would have to rot in Mars till then. They walked on roads as if they are on some secret mission and a smile here or there would just ruin the whole feel of it. The way they jostled through the crowds was irritable so to speak, so much that after a month I felt each Mumbaikar deserved a bravery award for facing this every day of their lives day in and out.
Huffing and panting I somehow managed to reach the train and board into it just in time. As I snuggled in between seats, my room-mate cum friend’s voice rang in my ears, “Darling, this is the way of life here!” (I was still getting used to the local lingos, so every time she said Darling it made me cringe.)” Within six months you will also become like us, a machine that runs on the two hands of a clock. You will understand how crucial 7:21 is, and how it cannot be 7:22.” She spoke like a seasoned player.
“The very crowd that irritates you right now will give you a sense of belonging after a while as you stop feeling anything. You do it all mechanically without any feelings. What else do you call it when we boarded the local trains the very next day of bomb blasts! The media thinks it is Mumbaikar’s never say die spirit. I say it is our we-don’t-have-a-choice spirit. Do you think I could call my boss and say Sir I need leave because I am scared and a bit upset due to the bomb blasts? He will not even entertain me for a day on those grounds and I might just end up losing my job. In this city survival is very important and for that you have to forget everything else. We spend hours commuting to work, the work for long hours and then commute again, by the time we reach home nothing is left within us. Your feelings, your fears, everything have to take a backseat as you accelerate towards your dreams and everything else is dead.”
I sat there trying to let those words sink in and glanced around. People from different cities and villages with their own different dreams, but they seemed so lost. If you are living a dream, your eyes shone with its glow. But here it felt as if the pollution of the city had blocked your vision to an extent where even the glow wasn’t visible, if any. Maybe my roommate was right, there was nothing left in anyone of them. They had all become machines.
|Source: Google Images|
“Next station Dadar.” That nasal twanged aunty reminded us breaking my thoughts. The seat next to me got vacant and a gentleman came along to occupy it. As was the habit everyone was fiddling with their phones, which reminded me the way we used to press the lift button more than once in childhood believing it would bring the lift faster. They were fiddling with their phones half expecting time to fly by and their destination to arrive. This person fished out his phone from his pocket and what he did next took my breath away. Instead of opening temple run or candy crush he opened his images. Out came a cute little picture of a baby boy barely few months old and the rest of the journey was spent zooming in and out of that picture. The look in that man’s eyes spoke all that he didn’t. And that moment I realized, “Not all was lost. Love, always found a way just like it had right now.”