Train travel

Day 29 OctPoWriMo

Prompt: Railroad tracks

Form: Free verse

The squalid, squat, sanguine structure
once busy and bustling, is now bleak
the surreality of the empty room envelopes me in desolation
waiting rooms used to be overflowing with people
now the vacant benches wait forlornly
pigeons parade on people-less platforms
no hawkers and no vendors screech
no jostling crowds, no luggage strewn around carelessly
the quiet, the emptiness cling icily to my soul.

Then the clangour and clamour of the chugging train
tooting twice tiredly
as it moves on the worn out waiting tracks that are
patient, prone and parallel
coolies are neither there nor required
as the few passengers have just a small carry bag each.

Masked I board the sanitized, slightly decrepit compartment
reminiscent of my childhood ramshackle trains
no air-conditioning, no rush, just a handful of passengers
surely not a childhood memory
as buildings and fields whiz past backwards
my hair is a messy bird’s nest in the breeze
I can feel my eyes smarting from grit
I am a ten year old asking my mom excitedly
” how far is nani’s* home?”
but there are no siblings, no packed lunch and eatables mom would carry
for the annual, long 36 hours journey
no easy banter with co-passengers
no running up and down the coach
no chattering away into the wee hours of night
ensconced in the coveted upper berth.

The barren stations stand stoically
the speeding lampposts have lost their lustre
I sit pensively, my book neglected, the song in my earphone playing unheard
hoping and praying nothing would go wrong
railway journeys are not the same anymore.

*Nani- maternal grandmother

36 thoughts on “Train travel

  1. Beautiful nostalgia, you brought back memories of annual trip to my Nani’s through your poem, Ma’am. Times have changed, hopefully we’ll return to those times soon. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. love the sounds tinkling thru this, the vivid images and the forlorn loss 😦

    Can’t imagine any Indian railway station or train like this, not in a million years as they are/were the bustling hub of humanity …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Punam, I have memories of several train journeys, and your poem brought them back to me. It sounds like the trains are not what they used to be. That’s sad. I know that the magnificent depression-era train station in Cincinnati, where I took my young baby, now 51, to visit my parents, is now a museum. Times change, but it’s nice to know that the gigantic mosaics glorifying American workers still remain in the historic train station in Cincinnati.

    When I lived in Washington DC, Union Station was a historic station with a food court, shops, restaurants, magnificent party rooms, and a multiplex theater. We often took the Metro there and hung out on the weekends.

    When we moved to Florida, we used to take the Auto Train to DC and drive to Connecticut to visit my inlaws. There were only 3 bunks, but our youngest daughter, now 29, was little enough to sleep on a king-size pillow on the floor!

    Maybe the famous Indian railway will have a revival when Covid is over. I hope so! I have watched documentaries about it, and it seemed truly amazing! All the best! Cheryl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheryl, what lovely memories you have shared here! So happy you could take a trip down the memory lane. Such precious moments.
      Yes, once covid is behind us things out to be back to the way they were.
      Thanks a lot. β€οΈπŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Just a piece of unsolicited advice, if you want others to read your blogs, you should read theirs and engage with them. Just dropping a link to your blog doesn’t help.


  4. I remember taking train from Bokaro to Rajkot. It took 3 nights and change of train 2 times. One at Tatanagar and 2nd at Bhusaval. Frustrating at the time, but brings a lot of memory looking back.

    Well penned!!

    Liked by 1 person

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