Train in May

*I wrote about my train ride from Pune to Nagpur back in May. I don’t know why I never posted it. But I just discovered it, so I thought I’d post.*

The evening light won’t last much longer, but for now it illuminates farmers finishing their day’s work in their field, boys playing cricket, cows wandering back home across land that is not nearly as hot and dry as the land where I am headed. Farmland here looks happier—greener, more abundant, more dependable. I see tractors and crops in mid-season or ready for harvest, crops that can’t grow in the dry summer months of Vidarbha.

Cluttered cities with train stations that we will not stop at. Corn fields. Sugar cane. Goat herds and their herders making their way back home. Old men on bicycles wearing white caps, white shirts, white pants.

The woman across from me removes the nail polish on her fingernails and paints her toenails. I want to paint mine too. For roughly 50 cents, I rent a set of bedding: two sheets, a blanket and a pillow. A spindly girl of 8 or 9 years dangles her pillow above her uncle’s head. She grins and the gap that her missing front teeth have left makes her smile seem all the wider.

As we sit at the Daund Junction Station, the sun slips away.

We roll on; the click clack of the tracks beneath us and the swaying back and forth of the train rock us across Maharashtra. After a grandmother in my berth shares her homemade chappati and pickle with me, I make my bed and turn in for the night.

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