She reads a few pages of ‘The Sunset Club’ every morning. The twilight cover of the book stands in contrast to the bright morning light coming in from the window, as the train chugs along the rather monotonous Gurgaon route. Each time the train halts at a station, her book flips several pages. Mentally, she curses the number of people the capital has. And, occasionally, also the passenger who cannot stand without treading on her newly bought shoes.
Next to her, another passenger fiddles with her purse, debating if she should bring out the novel she has painstakingly carried from home. Somehow, she lacks the confidence required to read in the metro and is afraid of getting jostled over and hurt. She gazes enviously at a contemporary – cozily seated and browsing through the evening newspaper.
In another corner of the coach, two women get into a squabble. I get into the women’s compartment to avoid being jostled and pushed. Like I come here to listen to your temper, screams the other one. Phone networks act up, leaving conversations unfinished, often misunderstood.
It starts getting dark by the time the train leaves Gurgaon. Lights come alive in temples and restaurants, as also on the roads, as cars rush home. Someone calls up her mother-in-law. I will be late tonight, she says. Don’t worry though; I will manage dinner in time. Subsequently, she stamps over the feet of someone reclining by the door. Can you not see how this place is far too crowded for you to doze off, she replies to an indignant cry. Someone’s box of grapes collides with the floor, while another hungry soul continues munching potato chips, just about obstructing a “No Eating or Drinking” board with her handbag.
At Hauz Khas station, the queue to exit seems far too long. There are several happy faces, pleased to be going out into the evening. They call friends and make dinner party plans. An elderly lady struggles with the ticket slot. She can’t quite figure out the coin-shaped token needs to be dropped in, much to the exasperation of people behind her. They scowl and groan till a helpful official shows her the way. She laughs at herself, making a comment on how silly she was, unmindful of the sighs of relief that go out behind her.
It would be daylight in a couple of hours. Another day would begin. The metro would again embark on its lonely, traffic-free route, chock-full of people chugging along in its air-conditioned coaches. When I walk out into the rapidly descending night however, that’s not what I think of. I breathe in, pleasant thoughts of food, soft sheets and people waiting to listen to how my day was filling my mind.
No matter how exasperating mornings can sometimes be, in times like these, I feel truly blessed.