Next Train In

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Waking            climbing           dodging darting

Weekday mornings at nine,

repeat at five

At the footboard,

half asleep or anxious

but shoved to life

by the announcer’s voice

calling out my station

like a cough:

Khar

 

Khar rings in

I am the next train in

The next train in –

Churchgate 8:42 Slow

Other bodies leap

Through the doors,

Time resets to zero, lurches on again.

 

Jog   climb  hail               slow            listen

Align

myself to a prayer for today:

a chant to the goddess 

All beauty is her

All patience, her

All hunger, illusion,

All activity, is her.

Settle.

 

Shutting packing zipping             climbing

                                     tripping            descend

Wait wait waiting

For the train back home to pull in…

Now the 5:42, hurtling, arrives.

 

Step up

Plunge in                                                     

Dodge      ahead

Breathe.

The trees move in reverse,

The missile gathers speed.

Heavy lidded, headed north

Tired travellers, glaze-eyed lizards on a log

Adrift on murky seas.

The announcer, robotic, dutiful,

chants non-stop:

Andheri Andheri Andheri.

 

Next train in. 

 

Illustration: Gauri Nori, Poem edited by Ashutosh Pathak

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