Winter vacations meant travelling with Ma & Dadu to Delhi. The harsh winter months were the time when Ma would take leave to go into the familiarity of her childhood city. To me, it was an escape from the bullies in school. The bullying continued in more subtle ways over the years but it remains a harsh reality. And unfortunately we are always apologetic about weight, complexion, sexual drive and the list is endless.
Train journeys were my escape. I loved the window seat of the great Indian railways. It never ceased to amaze me the small villages, the paddy fields, the occasional man defecating near the tracks. I often thought why were there no women ever doing that. It was always the ugly sight of confident men never made aware or ashamed of nudity, to sit and sometimes even wave at the passing train.
My favorite time was the godhuli Lagan also called the magic hour when women dressed in bright saris and bangles, stood huddled together and the cows kicked dust into the horizon to return to its shed. The flock of birds too were flying towards their destination. I wanted to know where they lived, where they went.
The train window shut as the hours passed and all you could see was the silhouette of the landscape and the darkness. The motley group of people were friendly together for those few ephemeral moments. And when the destination came we again became strangers.I remember promising to keep in touch with some but it never was like that. The only thing that stayed was the dank smell of the toilets and the shared stale food stench.
Every time I hear a passing train or see the lights like a snake manoeuvring its way towards an unknown destination. I know in some little obscure village and in some little unlit home lives another woman just like you and me. She is waiting to be understood, loved, desired and not devoured. She has a faraway look in her moist eyes, it has dreams and hope for a better tomorrow