A jerk woke me up, or was it silence?
We were stationary.
Sleeping forms in racks as I clamber down,
Search for shoes carefully stowed away a few hours earlier.
Hariwalla station. A tiny shack with a jack-in-the-box switchman.
The track towards Dehra Dun runs ahead of us - a single line from the web of parallel tracks.
Red light before dawn - the signal stopping our great lumbering beast of a train.
I alight. The sky is high above me.
A muscley jogger runs by - Ibranovich shirt wearing - a quick 'hi' from him
In the distance rich people walking their dogs,
Others returning from the side of the track, each clutching an empty plastic bottle, their deed done
As I sit on a small bench in the cool of a 5 AM morning
I can see the water colour sillouettes of the hills framing the brightening sky
Soon we will be speeding through the still sleeping city
Passing smudgy flex hoardings praising our new prime-minister
And forest of billboards promising the sky - schools and hotels and academies and jobs
Thankfully most are left behind in the valley - our taxi wants to fly
And just as the sun sends its gold through that impossibly blue sky,
Our vehicle will trundle through the empty gullies of Landour,
Crunching verticality up the fretted concrete ribbon
That leads to the quietness at the top,
And the embrace of parents and goodness of silence
But for now, I await the coming train.
A rumble in the distance, a twinkling of two white lights in the growing dawn
The Jan-Shatabadi heads towards our beast, along the single rail, moving head on
Till miraculously it follows the steel stream to a side tributary, grumbling past us
And leaving our train alone again.
The signal goes yellow. I clamber up the steep steps.
And join my sleeping family in the cold thrum of the 3rd AC compartment
The threshhold of our home, one of our homes at least,
Is just a few minutes away
The train slowly lurches to life.
A happy dream that I do not wish awakening from.