Bijay Kant Dubey

A Journey By Train - Poem by Bijay Kant Dubey

The Indian railway running by the grace of Lord Rama,
Chugging and whistling,
The light is, but the bulbs are not,
A few of them burning dimly,
Sometimes dim light too is not,
Nothing seen in that feeble and frail light
And the train running in darkness
From halt to halt, platform to platform.

Those who had to sit are fallen flat on the stretchers
For the luggage,
On the seats,
Just like the Paglets or Hamlets
And if ask you for a seat,
They will abuse you
As for disturbing sleep.

Running late, making you drop late into the night
And you at a loss
Where to go and where not
At the halt or on the platform,
Passing the night somehow
In a great trouble,
Or as for a doze or napping,
Alighting at a manless halt unknowingly
Or the train is not in time.

Very often the rats stinking in the toilet,
One hundred or one thousand and one rats rotting,
As the common man will say,
Sometimes water is short of
After you have gone,
When pressing the tap,
Water is not coming,
Somehow getting out of the unpredicted situation.

Sometimes not, many a time have I
The without ticket passengers sitting on the seats
And you standing on foot,
He gossiping and sleeping
And you looking into him,
Sometimes the passengers hanging on to the rod
And going over the head to slip past
Into the packed compartment,
The attaché falling on your head

And the boots of the countryside rough and tough gentleman
Crushing the toes
And the already present incumbent taking the name
Of his mother and father,
As for the jostle and push
In the crowd,
Oh, God, save me, save me
From this Hitler,
The fellow whose toe is crushed whispering!

But the cruel fellow, the blunt boy,
A ruffian of some sort,
I mean the rugged man,
Uncouth and clumsy unmindful of all that,
He has to reach home,
Nothing to worry about others,
He can even push you
If pick a quarrel with the gang man.

Does he a tough rhetoric in a vernacular,
Is this train of your baap, I mean father,
Into English,
But the reality is this that it is
Neither of his father nor that of the poor fellow’s,
But who says to whom,
Who to make the ruffian understand?

The police too coming not even if sometimes, wanting to take the men away
Got into innocently in the ladies’ compartment
And getting down with something, taking that from,
Again at a station, the other policemen getting into
And on seeing them,
The innocent people jumping off
To be into another crowded compartment
And the railway officials too putting in a few
For the general passengers,
Getting into and down from station to station.

But all the bogies the reserved compartments, the sleeper bogies,
Nothing to identify them boldly,
In some of the second class sleeper bogies, sleep during the daytime
And sit up during the daytime,
How can it be,
How can it be all this?

The poor railway with the load of Indian population,
No birth control,
God gives, God will rear,
Man will not,
But I ask them,
Why do you go to hospitals,
Why not to look up to God in thankfulness,
He will come and treat you,
Have you forgotten pregnancy deaths?

The poor Indian railway with a mammoth of crowds,
The people in gargantuan traffic jams,
An Indian population of one crore and more,
Yet to trespass China in census and its statistics,
Chugging somehow,
Whistling and leaving the station
To unload,
But again it gets loaded in the next station.

And coming to the bogies,
A mass of uneducated, half-fed and half-clothed gathering,
Some about bread, cloth and housing,
Some about party and politics,
Some about religion,
Some about corruption and bribery,
Scams and scandals,
Very, very boring to hear them lecturing
But none about how to make it good.

Some rubbing tobacco, some smoking cigars,
Some spitting,
The pantry men supplying food
But the food costly,
Everything dear and unavailable,
Somewhere someone has vomited.

After the whole-day duty,
Sometimes the crowded evening trains become empty as the commuters
Keep alighting from one by one
And the distance runners in the hope seated well change them not,
But the midway empty bogies full of pickpockets,
Their bizarre talks and activities,
Start intimidating the passenger’s self

And he gets closer to for fear of life and belongings being snatched
And the pickpocket as gentleman assures him
As for nothing to fear
And the poor passenger eats a biscuit of his
And sleeps well
To reach other station than that of his destination,
The police making getting down
And you in full sleep,
Lying fallen flat,
Intoxicated and senseless.

Coming to senses or on seeing the police thrashing the danda,
Saying, where am I,
The police wanting to bring in correspondents
As for money and news items,
But you wanting to return home,
Unable to write an application correctly
As being drugged.

Poor India’s poor people imagine I on seeing them,
The masses on the platforms
Waiting to board trains,
Alighting and getting into,
So many in number,
I mean the huge crowds
While the left-overs on the tracks dirtier.

Poor India’s poor pictures see I, imagine I
After seeing the beggars,
The human excreta on railway tracks,
The lavatories lying closed
Or without water on the platform,
Poorly maintained.
The heroines stylistic, bobbed, hi-fi, in the sunglasses,
On seeing them seated
In the first class compartments,
Write I not,
I write on seeing the poor people,
The poor picture of Humble India,
Ragpickers’ India,
Picking polythene sheets and carry bags
On the tracks,
You say it,
They too are men.

Am I right,
Am I speaking right,
But pity not all,
As the humble poor few,
The naked poor many,
What did I say, say to you,
You just believe me,
Isn’t it?

And the Indian railway chugging, coming on to the platform,
Departing for,
Flagged off or whistling itself,
None to show the gateways,
The entrance and the exit
And that is why people getting down
And crossing the tacks,
Risking their lives,
Unmindful of
And the trains coming.

Sometimes the chain being pulled down and the train stops
In the dark near a halt,
The rustics getting down
As their grievances for a stoppage lie it not redressed,
Sometimes the dacoits loot the passengers
And fire upon,
Dacoit Malkhan Singh banging at the gate
To open it and twirl the mustache
In a dhoti and kurta with a rifle.

Sometimes the pickpockets running with your wrist watch
Holding you stylistically out of the windows,
The branded watch, not the electronic cheaper ones
And after having snatched it,
The pickpocket showing it to you
And you getting angry, but what to do then
And in the meantime the train chugging,
Whistling and going.

Sometimes the signalman with the lantern sleeping at the halt
And the train passing through,
One halt telephoning another halt for information
And they inspecting,
Whether did the station master sleep
Or was it a sabotage
To drug him for a disaster?

Even if feel you sick and ailing on the platform,
There is none to help you,
There is none to come to attend your call,
You weeping alone,
The tears falling down
And the world in the go its own,
Unmindful of all that.

On the platform, people in the queues not for shows
But for to be in the toilets,
Lined and lined,
In rows,
Waiting for
And they coming not,
Taking time,
Even near the toilet doors,
Some standing.

The Indian train running by Rama’s grace
Without any mai-baap chugging,
Whistling and going even without water and light sometimes,
The officials taking money,
But unmindful of their duties,
Public service to be rendered.

You sitting at the halt and the men at the ticket counter
Closing them,
As for the halt being away from human haunt
And security guards too not there
And you waiting in the dark,
Fearing the pickpockets and thieves,
Asking God the Almighty to help you,
Reading the lines from the Hanuman Chalisa
And the Chandipatha,
Asking Bhababati to be of your help.

You sitting at the halt and the men at the ticket counter
Closing them,
As for the halt being away from human haunt
And security guards too not there
And you waiting in the dark,
Fearing the pickpockets and thieves.

Lord Ram’s country and Lord’s Rama’s train going
Somehow, Ram is with,
Not the people of the country,
Inactive and lazy number one
And Ramji’s seated on the seats
And going.

Somewhere the coal bags are pushed under the seats
And the personnel searching for
And the poor and clever ladies traceless
Without any charges
And the saviours will rake something for savouring or for dakshina
As for taking them freely,
Otherwise will not let go.

Sometimes even in the toilet end there can found a knapsack
Full of green vegetables
Being taken to the capital and to cities
And if this be,
How t talk of health and hygiene,
Sanitation and cleanliness?

You feeling thirsty and alighting at a red-signalled halt
And in the meantime,
The whistling and chugging,
You either running to get hold of the rod
Or left behind repenting,
Why did you get down for water,
Couldn’t you suppress your thirst?

Sometimes the hawker comes and offers you a glass of drink,
Curd and water mixed or lemon and sugar mixed
And drink you in hunger and thirst
And when asked about the price,
You stunned to hear about
The abnormal bill to be given to
Other wise his gang man coming to avenge it,
As he said to you something and heard you heard about lower price.

Coming to the baap’s station, I mean the platform,
I mean the home,
I can only get peace,
The peace of mind,
A sound mind in a sound body
And if the body is in trouble,
No peace will be therein.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 9, 2013

Poem Edited: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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