The train crawls forth like a metal millipede.
I watch the darkness ascend from the bowels of earth and cover the sky, one heavy brush stroke at a time starting with the horizons, and the birds and beasts muted by distance.
I think of writing, how the strange mysterious process becomes a life form, how words froth out of paper, oozing from the hidden cracks in our thoughts.
There are all kinds of people around me- cheerful and morose, talkative and reticent, strangers befriending strangers. I watch my reflection distorting the texture of their reality; and I step into a dream.
I dream of another journey. Another journey is what I need to pump blood back into the hardening tissue of my skin and brain. A journey stripped bare of purpose, uncaring of its destination or the lack of one. A journey oblivious of the past and future, blinded breathless by the colours and scents of its now.
I remember to remember the little fractured snaps that make the collage of me- the matchboxes with playing card motifs and imaginary houses with slanted roofs, old books with yellowing paper, rough peeling cement alternating with mesmerising brick patterns over our boxy living quarters, the unreasonable everyday anxiety, the friendly school buses and sweets on republic days with the grease oozing out of their brown paper bags, hawkers with knickknacks, the orange ice candies, the wide brimming river, the angry river, the dried river, the trees, them trees- that bargad, that simbal, those tesus on the way to school and beyond the hockey field.
I think of a lot of things. My thoughts jump from strand to strand upon strands that tie these different things into a complex criss cross thatchwork. Some patterns are obvious, while others are cryptic.
The dreaming eventually bleeds into sleep with its own dream-patterns that the conscious me doesn't recall upon waking.
And I'm home.
Photograph: Malaysian Train Journey by Carol Etheridge
Thus spake Manish Bhatt