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Crowded Train Chronicles: Train of Thought
“Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”
― Saul Bellow
He is old, but not very; lives all by himself.He isn't rich. He isn't poor. He has no family.He isn't anything to talk about. He isn't great in the eyes of others.He's never been a perfectionist. He's never done anything perfectly.He's tackled situations by approximation.He's never been a victor, a loser neither.That's him.
Just an average weekday by his standards. He isn't a terribly busy man and seldom uses the phone. He doesn't have a line at home, depending only on his mobile which hardly ever rings.
He just bought himself a rucksack. The old one tore. His rucksack is important to him. He keeps his water bottle and a couple of sandwiches in it. He travels all the time. He loves experiences. He's an introvert, but he loves experiences.
What He Carries in his Rucksack while Travelling
A couple of sandwiches
He almost never travels outside the city. His favourite mode of transport is the city's extensive train network.
He made himself a couple of sandwiches. He takes one out and begins to eat.
What He Does
He collects memories for a living. His memories are the wind in his sails. He cannot do without them. Money is never an issue. He is low maintenance and seldom falls ill.
As he sits back, assuming a more comfortable position and looking out of the window, his thoughts wander. It is time for reminiscence. The train chugs along.
He remembers the pauper he saw the day before; a man wearing a tattered old shirt and dirty pants. He didn't make much of an impact on anyone, and not on our old man. He is still important. He is a memory.
Just this morning, our man gave a little girl a candy bar. She took it with an innocent smile. That's a memory. He smiles to himself thinking of it. He knows that the wicked world is filled with a lot of cruelty punctuated by little sweethearts like her.
He wonders what she does at home. Does she play with her toys all the time, or does she watch cartoons too? Are her parents taking care of her well enough? Are they strict or liberal? Are they Communists or Capitalists? Rich or poor?
He goes back in time to many years ago. There was a girl then. She had emotive eyes and a beautiful smile. He was madly in love with her, although he never told her, and she probably never found out. She had a name: Beatrice. He smiles again, and this time, there is a tinge of melancholy to it.
He was always looking for excuses to be around her. The power of attraction. He always made a fool of himself trying to impress her, and she was never impressed.
“The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.”
-Lisa Wingate, A Month of Summer
He looks at the crowd in the compartment and realizes that he is lucky to have found a seat for himself. He always manages to find a seat for himself. It's called experience.
His stop is nearing and he prepares to get off. He must stand in line for the door although it's more pushing and shoving than waiting. He's used to it though, and doesn't worry about losing his wallet in the melee. He always keeps it in his rucksack, and he has a new and sturdy one today.
Finally the stop arrives and people flood out of the compartment, our man among them. He hesitates for a bit, then slowly walks away,becoming one among the many faceless strangers.
"Of all that I have possessed in my life, my memories are the only things remaining to me. Indeed, I believe that memories are the only real treasure any human can hope to hold always.”
- Gary Jennings, Aztec