Serenity

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She tossed and turned in her bed. Moving from side to side in a sad attempt to fall asleep.

It must be past midnight she thought to herself out loud. Through her bedroom curtain she could make out the faint image of the moon. The brilliant, beautiful orb shone down in full glory that night. She got up and walked to her window to open the curtains. Instantly her room was flooded in light.

Opening the window slightly, she stepped onto her balcony. The cold from the tiles crept up her legs and a chill wind blew around her. Pulling her blanket tightly around she sat on the chair that she kept.

It was beautiful.

Looking down she could make out the ever so slight figures of late night workers returning home from a hard day. She saw the party-goers all dressed up getting in a cab. Were they returning or leaving? She would never know. In the distance she could hear a lone dog howling at the moon. Gradually another joined in and then another. They sang their sad song in unison and then it stopped just as it had started. There was a light fog. She could see it around the lamppost in the garden. It cast an eerie glow around the light. The wind blew again. This time taking the clouds with it. She looked up and saw the night sky. The stars shone bright.

“This is beautiful” she thought. The peace and calm relaxed her. Maybe it wasn’t so bad being awake. Maybe she needed this to calm her down. She glanced at the clock. It was 1:30 in the morning. She had to get to sleep.

She climbed back into bed and within seconds she was asleep.

 

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Dawn

She moved silently and as quietly as she could as she ran down the streets towards the railway station. Why was she late? She could have sworn that she woke up on time. The streets were isolated. There was no living thing in site except for the lone street dog scavenging for its next meal.

Why was she late? There couldn’t have been a more inconvenient time to have to travel on her own. It was too early for her. The sun hadn’t risen and none of the birds were awake yet. Morning shift is great, as long as you have someone to travel with. The train would leave in a fifteen minutes and she better be at the station when it does. The foggy darkness loomed around her and she couldn’t wait to reach the safety of the railway station.

She pulled her hoodie tightly around her, desperately trying to hide her feminine body underneath. Darkness is no woman’s best friend. Darkness is where the wolves hide waiting for their prey and she felt like a sheep wandering through. Fear made her quicken her step. But with each step closer her fear faded.

By now it had gotten a little brighter. Its funny how within a few minutes the sky can change hues. Move from a black to a faint greyish blue. How within a few minutes from being surrounded by complete isolation you enter civilization as the dawn approaches. How within a few minutes her fear melted away along with the blackness of the night.  The empty lanes were now filling up with people. People just like her heading off to work on that winters morning.

She could hear the faint call of the vendors as they opened up their shops. School buses zoomed past her along with the cabs and rikshaws. Birds flew over her head. Dogs barked in the distance. Dawn had brought life with it.

She had reached her platform just as soon as the train pulled into the station and so had her day begun.

 

The Journey Home

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It was late in the evening. Her legs trembled under her as she felt the sudden weight of the days events on her shoulders. She was tired. Only a few more minutes and her train would be here. Her heart said that she would faint but her brain kept reminding her that she will be okay.

As the train drew into the station more and more people crowded onto the platform. Each and everyone of them exhausted after a hard days work. She pushed forward along with the crowd, hoping to get into the compartment. She had to catch this train no matter what. It wasn’t an easy task but then again trying to find your way among hundreds of people isn’t easy and only the strongest survive. She could hear a woman scream from within the compartment that she had to get down at this stop. ‘The poor thing’ she thought to herself.

Traveling by the Mumbai local at rush hour is the survival of the fittest. There was chaos all around her. Women pushing and pulling one another, all trying to enter or exit the train. Being taller than the average Indian woman, she was able to push herself through the crowds and entered the compartment. She looked around and saw that there wasn’t a seat left. ‘It’s going to be a long journey’ she thought to herself as she mentally prepared herself to go home standing.

As soon as the train pulled out of the station there was a strange sense of calm that entered. There was laughter and talking. Everybody forgotten about the ordeal they faced a few minutes earlier. But then that is everyday life.

Wedged between two other women she looked around, studying all the faces before her. There were many to look at, some young, some old. There were students, mothers, grandmothers. There were working women, housewives who were heading home after a day out shopping. There were vendors selling their goods and there were also a few children who looked terrified. ‘Must be their first time out’ she thought as she smiled to herself. They all looked tired. They were all exhausted and just like her they wanted to get home as soon as possible.

The train pulled into the next station and suddenly the chatter quieted down. It was time to face another massive crowd. The chaos began again. This time a family entered the compartment with big trunks. In an already crowded compartment this wasn’t taken easily by a few of the women and a quarrel ensued. ‘Just another day’ she thought. She heard a baby cry somewhere in the compartment. There were too many people so she couldn’t locate from where the crying erupted.

She looked over the heads of the women between her towards the girl standing opposite her. The girl was about the same age and height as herself. She noticed that the girl wasn’t comfortable and was looking absolutely overwhelmed by the crowd. ‘Must be her first time too’. It isn’t easy the first time. She remembered the first time she traveled at rush hour, it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

By now she had been standing for almost an hour. She knew she was almost home. The closer the train drew to her home the happier she felt. After a while the crowd lessened. Everybody getting off at their respective stations until it was just her and a few others left. She knew them by face. They all knew each other and smiled. You form strange relationships with the people you travel with. Neither of them have spoken to each other yet all of them have formed a bond.

As soon as she stepped off onto the platform relief flooded her. Her ordeal was over, for now. She headed home bracing herself for what was to come the next day. ‘It is all a normal day’ she thought as she climbed into a rickshaw. No matter how tough it gets, the journey home always has a strange place in her heart. She would have it no other way.