What was the point in coming here today was a question that I asked myself and no matter how many times I asked… the answer was: nothing. Nothing had changed about this place. A tea stall stood at the corner unmoved by an inch for the past 20 yrs. Right beside it was a small book stall. It had limited collection of books and few morning editions were neatly decorated in a wooden stand.
Normally this place is not very crowded, but today it seemed the entire town’s population had doubled. Our small town had been a humble population of few old people. But today anyone could see the difference as there were young children, teenagers, newlywed couples and old people who were storming in and out of the station incessantly. My old eyes wondered, “Why were they swarming like bees to this place, today?”
I felt like a roast turkey as today’s temperature was a record high 42 degrees. The shade of my umbrella was not enough to protect me from the burning heat. An announcement was made, “Royal Blue is ready to depart from platform no.1 in 5 minutes.”
I stood like an iron statue on the ground, unmoved by the sea of people. I could see my life reeling back like a film in front of me as I stood there. Me with Luit…married, waving, hugging relatives who stood to greet us at this railway station. We were married for our entire life. It was 10 yrs ago that he died. Now I was all alone and too old to venture out. But it was not for him that I was here…then, why was I here?
Above me was a metallic board with an inscription of “Greens Valley Railway Station”. Everytime I heard the screeching sound of iron wheels against the tracks, my heart raced faster than the engines attached to the trains. I was scared of the screeching noise…people pushing to make their way…trains coming to a halt…trains starting with a jolt, so basically everything scared the poor old 68 year old me. Thank god! A few trains had left by now and I could feel the gentle breeze embracing me.
I had shifted to an old age home last year and wondered how long my life’s scroll was written. I was happy in my new home. I had a couple of oldie friends. We talked, cracked jokes on each other, laughed, cooked, did yoga, played cards and chess and sometimes fought. These activities were meant to keep us busy but we seldom had mood swings and went into a lone island. When I was hit by sadness, I went on long walks remembering…visiting old places…sitting on a park bench and smiling at things and sometimes crying.
I was happy that Maggie was my caretaker. Her bright smile made my days less miserable. This was my new home and its people my new family.
Yesterday night when we were walking after dinner I laid my eyes on the super moon and stood in silence. It was not the awe that made me silent but a dark sadness. I was sad because I remembered her…my best friend …Irinee.
I know you had to leave town. I know it was not your decision as your father had taken a job somewhere else. With the address that you had given me, we corresponded without fail for three years. I wrote, you responded…I wrote again and you responded again. Suddenly it stopped. I don’t know if I was too lazy or you were too busy. Whatever the reason was, I stopped writing. You stopped responding or you stopped writing and I stopped responding. I now regret had I pushed my tiny ego or anger aside and kept communicating with you I would still be in contact with you. But the reality is you are somewhere else and I just hope that you remember me as much as I do.
I don’t have much around me but I’m still hanging around. There is something funny about the old people they are deeply connected to people, places and things. When I was young I could not comprehend their attachment with relations to people, places and things. I was thinking about the lovely relationship that we shared and was getting to understand why the old people cherished this bondage of attachment. What seemed like a stupid idea to me when I was young was now drawing me towards itself.
I desperately want to see you before I die. My eyes…are waiting to see your smiling face. I want to hug you as you stood by my side. I need to hold your hands as it filled me with courage.
It has been 20 yrs and more that I came to see you off at this historic railway station. I was happy for you but some kind of grief filled my lungs and made it hard for me to breathe. I was a sealed container ready to burst into tears any moment, but I had controlled it then. I was not sure if I could do the same now. I wonder, if old age actually makes you strong or weak….
I have been remembering you too much lately and that’s why I’m here today. I know it would be a miracle if you come but if not… this place would be a shrine to our friendship. Until then I’ll come here everyday…waiting for you…wanting to see you until my life parts away. I will remember you always, you know that, right. But just in case if you come and I’m not here ask the tea stall, the platform, the board, the tracks or anything… they’ll all say, “An old lady once waited for you here”.