Saturday, March 19

Hold me down

He looked up at the display board again.

Its sickly yellow glow indicated there was still a minute to go, though he could swear it'd been promising that for nearly three. Headphones cut off the sound of his surroundings. His head and feet bobbed and tapped lightly to the music. That was about all the 'dancing' he'd allow himself. He couldn't remember a time when he'd danced with complete abandon, limbs flailing in absolute frenzy. Something deep within, some broken spring in his soul had cut off the music inside. Without it, his body could go no further.

At first, late work days were an exception. Now, they'd become the rule, so he stopped keeping count, instead, thanking the universe if he got done before 9. Tonight, there was no such luck. However, the train wasn't empty. The lifeline of the city never was, just like a living artery was never empty of blood. He managed to get an aisle seat, a small but precious pleasure.

He began to read, though tiredness made him look up and around every now and then. At the next stop, a couple entered the bogie and sat opposite him. They looked as exhausted as he felt. Though he didn't look more than 30, the man's hair was already receding and thinning out. The woman had that 'heart-shaped' face, so popular with novelists. A mole above the lip made her profile interesting; a sudden interruption on an otherwise unremarkable landscape.

There were no rings in sight, though their body language suggested intimacy. How long will we have to do this? Not long. I've already spoken to them. And? And, they'll listen to me. Eventually. So, they don't really like me. It's not that. They had someone else in mind. Have you met? No, but I already told them I wouldn't. That's probably why. Maybe. What about your folks. They're tired of waiting. Well, they don't know how hard it is here. They're asking me to move back. I won't. Neither will I. I'm so tired.

She rested her head on his shoulder and dozed off. He adjusted his body to make her comfortable and stared out the window with a look that was comically stoic, unsure as to how to break the news to her. She couldn't sleep. Again and again, she wondered how to tell him the truth. Opening her eyes, she caught sight of the blank-faced man opposite them. Did their gazes meet?

He was unsure, but it was fun making up stories about people. Though he couldn't help be envious. That they had each other. That he knew no one who would fall asleep on his shoulder. That he'd never dozed off in anyone's arms. And, then felt ashamed about being jealous of strangers. Angry that he craved it so badly. He turned back to the book, his head and feet bobbing and tapping lightly to the music.

The train howled on into the Bombay night.

Song for the moment: Music sounds better with you - Stardust (Giraffage Remix)

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