Night Train, travel through the world unknown
The black hills with a maroon sky thick behind it
The metallic sound of friction valiantly losing battle to the poignant silence
Night Train, write an epic of the hands that cup around the eyes
Of the eyes that talk to the distant light
Of the lights that blink and the ones that stay still
Night Train, don't slow down for each breath falls faster than the wind outside
Night Train, don't slow down for the still is more piercing than the dark blades of grass lying far below
The rhythmic oscillation of the half sleeping bodies stacked one above the other
The threatening aura of the stiff backbones stoically awake
The lone observer is lost in the nightly delusion
Night Train, chronicle a dark fantasy of the broken fragments the night narrates
Night Train, stop, send a jolt, deaden the incantations
Before the dawn or its harbingers intrude
This piece of poetry is about how the night looks like for a passenger on a sleeper class Indian train. I remember the first time I boarded a train I was six years old. I was travelling to Dehradun and it was a long journey, around 36 hours. 36 hours on a train with bunk beds to sleep in, I felt like a gipsy travelling in a caravan. When the night fell I stayed awake. The train travelled through the countryside, acres and acres of farmland bordered by hills. That was the first time I realized, looking outside the window, that the colour black comes in so many different shades. Even though the train pierced through the night with a deafening sound but the somehow the silence and the stillness was so very prominent. At the entrance of each coach, there is a small, seemingly uncomfortable seat for the railway constables. They stay awake at night, expressionless, guarding the entrance.
Dawn is never announced by a colourful sunrise. At dawn, no rooster will wake you, no birds will sing. When at dawn the train halts at an unimportant station with a poetic name, the first thing you will hear is the "chai-chai" (in English means tea-tea) of the tea-vendors. It has a familiar melody to it. In all the different states of India, people speak a different language but wherever you go the cry "chai-chai" of the tea vendors will sound exactly the same.