I saw you elbowing the door inwards, the way we learned during the pandemic. Elbows, shoulders and feet were suddenly the new rage as far as body parts were concerned!
Walking on the platform and boarding the train rendered me breathless, considering that I had been closeted within the four walls of my apartment hardly venturing out for the last year and a half.
I noticed that you too were geared up for the five hours journey; double-masked and wearing a face shield. I smiled inwardly sure that you must be having that ubiquitous sanitizer in your bag.
As you were preparing to take the aisle seat next to mine, I was taken aback. I was under the impression that every alternate seat would be left empty keeping in mind the social distancing norm. Looking at the crowd in the compartment, I realized that it was almost like the pre-pandemic days except for the masks. Reluctantly, I took back the handbag that I had placed on the seat and caught you giving me a ‘once over’ to gauge if I were ‘your kind of person.’
It might sound rude to people from a different culture but here in our country, we do make quick judgment calls. It is almost normal!
I have seen two strangers talking to each other while traveling in train like long-lost friends, and I got the impression that you were that kind of person-easy to initiate conversation. I was more reticent and opened up only to family. By the time, the train left the station, I found myself sharing with you things that I never thought I would with anyone. I tried, I tried to curb my tongue but I was in the midst of verbal diarrhea. You were quiet when I told you that I had spent the lockdown period all alone within the four walls of my tiny apartment as my children didn’t want me to make home with them. I told you how each day of the fourteen months was one long, lonely journey and though I was comfortable financially thanks to my financial acumen, I felt a failure for I was not able to build a good relationship with my own. I remember repeating, ‘I don’t know where I went wrong in my mothering journey.’
You disembarked one station before mine. We never exchanged names but I still hold onto the note that you left me with. You had shared a quote of Mitch Albom”
“It’s not just other people we need to forgive.
We also need to forgive ourselves.
For all the things we didn’t do.
All the things we should have done.”
I stepped off the train leaving behind my feeling of inadequacy and self-pity on my seat and I floated towards the exit as I experienced the magic of feeling unburdened.
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