I stood at the edge of the platform and bent ahead. Many others were bending too, hindering my view of the tracks. I could see the purple and white monster in the distance. Yes, a monster! That's what the train is, just rushing ahead without looking at anything in its path, devouring whatever comes in its way.
Back to reality! Can't think about anything else when a train's approaching! There's always someone ready to push you down just for that window seat or the standing space by the door. It's worse than a rat race.
There! The train entered the platform. I had to get into the fourth compartment. The first class. Had to time my jump properly today though. I didn't want the window seat, not going to Churchgate. Have to alight at Borivali, so have to stand at the door.
There. The first compartment passed by. Now the second. Here comes the ladies' coach. The next is mine, Better get ready. Oh shit! It's too fast. I'll try the second door. Yes, got in. Don't go too far. Stand by the side. Ouch. Big mistake. People are still getting in.
"Look at this crackpot. Standing at the side."
"Push him," said another bald guy.
"Arre, uncle, I have to get down at Borivali," I protested.
"So what? This is our regular place, don't you know that?" said the baldy.
"Arre how will he know?" said a man wearing a pink shirt, "He's the kid who jumps early to catch that window seat. What happened today?"
"I have to get down at Borivali."
"Aww, let him stand here, Tawde. Bachcha hain. Anyway, it's just two stations away."
Praise be to Pinky! These "regulars" can be irritating at times. Frustrating too. But then what can a single person like me do? They might as well throw me under the tracks and no one would dare say a word to them. But well, that's Bombay, throw me under, life still would go on!
"So Tawde," Baldy spoke, "Where's the kirtan book? Hope you brought the mini-tabla today."
"Yes, I did," said Tawde profusely.
Damn it!!! I forgot. This was the second door. That's where the bhajans happen! Why did I miss the first door?
"Here, today's prasad is also special. My maid came back from Shirdi," Pinky said with pride, as if it proved that the maid's trip made him overtly religious, "Today we are blessed much more."
Well, you are also cursed much more today, thanks to me!
The train honked, time to leave. Luckily my destination was just 15 minutes away, and my headset would hopefully deafen the outside world. Ah! First song: American Pie! Bliss!
People were still approaching the door to get in. But there was no space at all. That's what the fools at the door were telling them. Actually in here there was plenty of space. For our Bhajan members to sit down in peace. And disrupt other's peace!
The train gave a final honk and it slowly started moving. Just then Pinky shouted, "Hey, Shrivastav's coming. Hold him and let him get in." Shrivastav was probably a member of the bhajan party. That's why he was getting a VIP entry!
I could see Shrivastav. He was wearing red and running towards the train in full throttle. The train had already caught up good speed though. Tawde put out his hand for Shrivastav. Shrivastav tried reaching for it and just got hold of it. And then the unthinkable happened.
Shrivastav's foot slipped off the footboard. Tawde's hand fumbled too. Shrivastav fell. Under the train. The monster had devoured his latest meal. Someone immediately pulled the chain. The train stopped. Everyone at the doors looked out. People at the windows too tried to get a look. The people inside were wondering what had happened. Everyone peeped out like one would in a street fight. Only this was worse. Much worse.
Tawde was on the platform, totally aghast. So were his companions Baldy and Pinky. I didn't get down to watch the body unlike others. I wouldn't be able to handle it. I just wouldn't.
The train halted there for another ten minutes. The hamaals came but they couldn't take the body unless the train left. They spoke to the motorman, who immediately blew the train's horn. The train was ready to leave. Again.
Tawde, Pinky and Baldy stayed back. After all Shrivastav was their friend.
There was no bhajan that day. The music died that day. For them. Especially for Tawde.
I had had an unusual morning today. But then this is Bombay. Everyone has an unusual day once in a while. This is Bombay - the city of uncommon, unusual extraordinariness.
There was no one hanging at the door now. Fifteen minutes for my destination. I hung at the door. Waiting for Borivali. Life goes on.