It has been a while since I had to rush for the morning commute to work. I had been a devoted commuter of The Metro North for a long while until lately. It was after many, many months that I had to get hold of this 6:44 am train. My favorite DD coffee on my right, The Prophet on my left, my iPod softly playing “Only God Knows Why” – this is me on a typical weekday morning.
I always like to get into the first car on my way to work. And I did just that today. I jostled my way though the half opened sliding door, grabbed a window seat and settled comfortably for my 35 minute ride. This 35 minute ride is ‘my’ time to recollect, my own little space, my zone. Somehow today, I did not feel like reading the book – too much of mysticism on a Monday morning – so I slid it into my bag. I turn to sipping my morning beverage. A fresh cup of coffee is always a warm welcome to fight the Monday blues.
Many-a-times in the past, this has been my precious time to reach out to the ones I love and let them know that they are in my thoughts. Simple gestures like these, I believe, speak volumes for people like me; the ones who find it hard to express. Today this gesture would carry no meaning – thinking so, I toss my phone back into my bag.
The train slowly pulls off the station and my mind races. It’s been a bittersweet journey for me. I look outside – the trees, the houses, the river whizzes past me – my life is no different. I realize I am awfully reflective today.
One by one we cross the stations.
Head lolling towards the window, the sun now shining brightly as ever – we finally pulled into SoNo. Today was the first day of school for the Fairfield Prep boys. Their satchels exploding with books, the chattering slowly trickling from the platform into the cars ( how I wish they’d hurry up) – Every second is precious when I take the train and I also know it takes at least a minute for the boys to board the train. I look at them with jealousy – fervently wishing I was a school kid once again – not caring about what my life has-been or will-be – just living every moment.
That is when I saw Him – a familiar face! A very familiar face – one I just could not forget but one I could not recall this very minute! Donning a red and white letterman jacket (which I thought was too wintry for August) and light blue jeans, he leaned against the wall staring right at me. I remember this fair, oval faced, handsome young man. A wisp of hair fell across his temple. He gently pushed it aside without flinching – his piercing dark eyes holding mine; speaking a thousand unspoken words!
He was not boarding the train (why was he on the platform at 7 am, I wonder!) I was oblivious of the chatter, the song playing in my ears, the noise – I was captivated by him. For a brief second – time stood still. A sly smile formed on his face; he did not move an inch. I was puzzled- I stared at him quizzically as the train slowly pulled out of the platform. I pressed my face onto the streaky pane, a fog forming on the window – I saw him standing there. I turned to my right, stretching as much as I could – he was still there; now dissolving into a small speck of red.
This is how I remember him. This is probably how he wants to be remembered. My eyes well up, a silent prayer forming in my lips; I absentmindedly remove my glasses … This is exactly how I had last seen him alive -15 years ago!
(Originally written on Aug 31st, 2009)