The Night Train

“For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.”

spiritedaway
Gif from the movie “Spirited Away”

These days, I am always out when the sun sets. Riding a bus, navigating through beaches and plains, cities and forgotten villages. I am out there when the sun sets, when the first neon lights come to life, crackling, blinking. When the street food vendors set up their stalls, preparing for the night’s work. I see them, women and men, faces lit by the artificial glow of a light bulb hanging overhead, waiting well into the night, alone.

I am out when the first star lights up the juvenile night. When the sun, in its last breaths, gives out an orange glow met halfway by darkness, cutting the horizon in half — turning the swaying trees into darkened silhouettes.

I am there, by a window always, in that darkened bus and its cold seats, where the rest of the passengers are quietly living poetry of their own, too. I crane my neck back, head pressed against the cool glass of the open window. I can never bring myself to close it fully. For all the times I couldn’t, I want to feel the night combing its fingers through my hair, arranging it into an artful mess filled with stars and visions of worlds I am not yet aware of.

I watch the night unravel, from the beaches, where a lone fisherman finally reels back his line, through the plains, cold and soothing, over the small lake, the one named “Solitude”, and through the village, to the fields.

We’re all going home, I think, as we pass by houses lit warmly from the inside. From inside the now still bus, my skin can almost taste that warmth, sink into it. But it is not really that kind of warmth I crave. There is warmth that has nothing to do with temperature or freezing fingers, and everything to do with the heart.

“Makes you want to go home, doesn’t it?”

The driver once commented, as we had stopped to let a stream of passengers out.

Quietly I said yes, yes it does. We did not speak after that, but I feel we understood each other, in a way. After all, there is a world out there only we know. A world of people in transit, waiting to get home, crossing worlds together to get there.

And in a way, in that strange, human way, the bus itself becomes a temporary safe place. We are all aware of each other, because there’s only ever a handful of us, at some point. We all look at who gets down where, even mumble goodbyes and wave tired hands. We all wish it was us, some of us out loud. When it’s pitch-black at the end of the night and you’re on a bus, you don’t wear a mask — you let the tiredness and the homesickness show.

The bus drones on for a while, the scenery passes, and so do the people. Life goes on, but not really, for me, for us. We are in transit, suspended somewhere between earth and sky.

When my turn to leave comes, when I finally see that bustop sign gleaming under the light of a streetlamp, I sigh softly. I smile at the driver and say goodbye, naturally, as though he is someone I have known for a while. And he watches to see that I’ve made it out safely. I, too, watch as the bus rides on into the night, to that darkened road that leads to the stars, and more importantly, home.


Note : I hope you have all been doing well! Fingers crossed the blog will be more active in June. Looking for this gif, I also stumbled upon this wonderful post, which details a scene from the movie this piece is inspired by amazingly well.

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