Everyday I travel 40 km up/down in crowded suburban locals. College and back home. Outside the window of the beige and green Eastern Railway locals, Bengal unfolds her saga of pleated greenery. Fields blend into each other. Deep greens and pale greens. Sap greens. Moss greens. Greens of devious algal delight. I don’t count telegraph poles anymore, or watch with wonder how the wires dip and rise, dip and rise. These days life calls their little dance, sinusoids. I watch, like everyday, and my eye are balls of fatigued marbled glass.
Today, I am late. Out of nowhere, evening has swooped with alacrity. The dregs of winter wistfully hang across a violet sky. The palash is in bloom- fiery red flowers blaze the naked branches. The cool wind slaps my face. Inside the coach, it is mid-summer already. The humidity runs her sticky fingers over my clavicles. Saaris cling to all shapes alike, lithe or voluptous or mid-way. We cross the bright orange housings of Mankundu. A lady shoves her little boy down the aisle. He looks at his mother, a hint of fear in his large brown eyes. She insists. He comes and stands right in front of the window, his tiny fingers loosily holding onto the black bars. I look at him. Smile. He looks away shyly.
Stations fall back. Another train screams on the next track- a blur of white fluorescence- and it is gone. Bhadeshwar recedes. The darkness presses tighter against the inky sky. The moon is a feeble crescent, with hollow cheeks. I lean against the cold metal for a little fresh air. Before me, the little boy is wide-eyed, his red mouth a perfect O, beautifully expressionless. Suddenly my senses are taut. I watch as his eyes devour the landscape:
The mist has carved itself into long, white striations, swinging gracefully round the palash, the palms and every other tree I cannot name. Acres of emptiness bloom outside under a pall of luscious melancholy. A heady scent of some wild flower creeps into my blood. Fireflies glow like green stars- improbable, aimless drops of waltzing lights. Underneath, the semi-dry canal whimpers, his throat choked with distilled loneliness. The high banks are empty. The slopes shelter a hundred different ferns and lianas and bushes and greenery. Trees wears tiny tiaras of those green-lit worms, all bereft of leaves. There are stars, I know, but my eyes cannot trace them. Time has transformed into poetry, opening petals like tantalising secrets.
We come to a halt. The moment has passed. I quickly recollect myself. The little boy is looking at a man selling peanuts on the station. The ecstasy in his eyes has dissolved.
The magic is over.