More Stories from a Train
Oh, let me remember this one slowly!
I want to unlock every second with great care. I want to do it over again, and yank time loose into a halt right here. This one, I want to keep close. A piece of ache I get to take out when I need its warmth the most.
The three of us are riding the overnight train to Nagpur. I don’t know yet that my performance and yours will soon shatter the both of us. I don’t know yet that I will make mistakes that will break me.
Instead, in this memory, I am living on a train’s doorway, seated between you and him. We are laughing. Both of you are telling me stories of when you got to know the night out there. I am listening and the nerves buried inside my palms come alive.
With the train snaking its rage over the hillside, he pointed to the dark and said, “that’s what it looked like. I ran away and spent the night underneath a tree…like that.” And because we were so close to the moon that we could pluck it out of the sky if we wanted to, we saw you clearly — huddled under a shadow, pressed against hard, cold bark, searching for your body’s heat. And because the night fell into our laps on that doorway, we could taste your fear. We all shivered and shifted closer together, holding hands urgently.
Remember when you would call me and ask me if the moon was showing itself in the sky? If there was no moon, you would tell me that it was hiding from my beauty — jullan — jealous. The moon was on fire.
And if there was a moon that night, you would sigh and tell me that of course, it had come out to see my beauty. Who wouldn’t? Wish I were as lucky, to get one glimpse.
Oh, to see you one more time.