Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A fall from a train

It was a day like any other; though the date was different than that of any other day, though the people I encountered seemed as alien as others would be any other day, though I had a ticket, unlike my usual ticket-less "up and down", I would still fool you into believing that the day was like any other day, weaning you away from the thousands of idiosyncrasies that feebly pass beneath our prospective, juggernaut-ical self, softly wailing to be heard. Still, something about us would want us to believe that it is a state of normalcy, a state, seen in the light of all that was narrated till now, seems as hypothetical as only it can be, for if we were to abstract one normal bowl, or one normal fisherman, or one normal date, wouldn't it seem a midget in comparison with the sum total of all hypotheses, of an all pervading normalcy? Still, missing this reality, I have the valour to entreat you to a glimpse of it, cutting myself short, keeping to tradition, and calling the affairs of that day absolutely normal till then. And that tradition is not without its reason: it expresses our tendency to find continuity in things, though making us immune to the varieties; those continuities must be our own, for outside us is a new world everyday (almost new), having different permutations and even combinations of people, objects, thoughts presented to us without; within, we find the idea that all is normal.

Having thus established what I mean by 'normal' (along with establishing why this concept is dubious), I now move on to examine that which is 'abnormal'. I shall start with an incident, and hopefully, and un-prophetically, end there too. On a normal day, sitting in a train at five 'o clock, supposed to depart at five-four, I am settling down inside the normalcy, looking at my fellow commuters, perhaps with a sense of triumph at having jumped in like a hunter and occupied the best seat with the most amount of breeze to it. That was a diktat of competition: if you want to stay strong, if you need to get the best, you must be ahead of everyone. All this in the last four lines would mean I must board a not yet stationary train which has just entered the platform. However innate this competitive streak might seem, it isn't without its soothsayers; you might come across it anywhere, rather, almost everywhere given today's standards. Our day begins with it - scuttling for toilets, agreeing with it in a newspaper and so on - and even ends with it - making it in time so that television privileges may be exploited to the fullest, etc. During daytime, one finds a platform raised completely for such competition, and which allows for nothing else on it, having at the same time magnetic properties of repulsion and attraction: we call this employment. But as much as the soothsayers of competition may tell you, they fail to tell you that there surely are limits to this principle. If you look at things the way I am looking, from a normal train window at five-four, you could probably cross-examine those soothsayers more easily. Because at thirty seconds past five-four, the train has already started moving, and from the station entrance a few paces behind, five competitors start running towards the door in front of me, giving me a clear account of their game/life. With every second, the train is accumulating speed, and every competitor takes one and a half second (circa) to get in. Till the chance of the fifth competitor, the train seems faster than an average human, yet #5 thinks: "If only I could catch this one.." or "Aai guh, can't miss this one..." or "I think I can make it...". Mostly something like this, for his hand doesn't let go of the train-handles. His feet, though, are less competent, and he is pulled away by the train at one point, the next human instant of which he lets go/is made to let go, horizontal, and sliding forward, finally falling off the brink of the platform making the noise of a potato sack. It is to be noted that he couldn't have heard or thought anything else at that moment, for I, having seen the fate of such an obsession, had, as duty to myself, shouted out loudly: "chhod" ("leave"). That was the limit the soothsayers didn't specify.

This event made this day rather abnormal.

FUN FACT: the word 'competition' is formed using latin roots 'com' (together) and 'pletere' (to seek). Though analytically broken down as 'seeking together', this word is used and practiced in a vehemently opposite sense.

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