Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Train Ride

It was afternoon. The train moved quickly and smoothly along the tracks, but suddenly the carriage in which I sat shook and swayed. Perhaps the train had hit a rock left on the track by vandals. Nevertheless, none of the commuters on the crowded carriage seemed to care. Their heads were down as they read their novels or newspapers. Some even played colourful childish games on their smartphones, even adult men who daintily pressed their fingers on the phone touchscreen like finger-painting kindergarten children.

A man in smart casuals sitting opposite me tried to move his feet. His knees pressed against mine. We made eye contact with each other for a moment, and I noticed he had an angry look in his eyes, and he isn’t afraid to express it. I averted eye contact and justified to myself, in my mind, that it was not my fault. I cannot help having long legs. It was the train that was at fault as it was not big enough and there weren’t enough seats.

A woman who sat to the left of this angry man stared forward like a zombie. White headphones in her ears emitted soft beats. Looking at her was like looking at someone experiencing an intense moment of indulgence while on the toilet taking a dump. She wasn’t the only one enjoying the music. Every third commuter was wired up to his portable music device. Their eyes rolled up into their heads as the music poured into their ears. They were spaced out and out of this world. What are they trying to escape and why is it so scary?

My eyes performed a 180-degree scan of the commuters in front of me. I ignored the men and the old women, focusing instead on the young females. I look at one girl in particular, a blonde schoolgirl who wore dark blue uniform with a light blue ribbon in her hair. She too had white headphones dangling from her eyes. Her eyes stared out the window, and she had the look of a girl who wanted to be somewhere else.

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