The Pursuit

The sound of the train was driving me forward. I moved aimlessly, leaving behind a past which was eloquent in its own way. The signs of my early arrival were well before me as the sun stood midway in the sky, hiding behind the clouds from time to time, while moving on in its natural motion. I knew at that point how long I had to wait till the departure of the evening train to North of Kashmir. She would travel in that evening train back home after she was finished with her college. 6 p.m. in the evening.
The thought came to me when I decided to take nap in an open field near the railway track. The idea seduced me. I wanted to comprehend, understand the very meaning it could possibly have for me. God bless people who are in their early-twenties! It is an age of madness and no one can perhaps cure madness except the powerful emotion called love. The entire universe should conspire against the madness it pours into the souls of the troubled. But then, I thought,” It happens, every once in a while.”

The thought hit me again, and this time, it hit me with detachment. I felt terrified at the subtleties of the weather. It was always a reminder of feelings of cheerfulness and if one allowed, it would grow as a symbol of anything that was cheerful. Happiness could be seen on the faces of people who were not truly happy.

I lit a cigarette, adorning the colors of nature in all their intensity. The clouds in the sky, hanging in different shapes, looked like a bulk of human emotions, desperate to make downpour like the eyes of a human being, always desperate to shed tears. How did the downpour of sky take place? Was it really like the heaviness carried by a human heart? Did sky really take such a burden? Did sky really weep? The place looked like an abandoned valley where a human eye met the end point of joy and beauty. With the panorama of the lens of my eyes, a cover of willows could be seen with no end. All green. It tempted. It was a poet’s treasure. But alas, I could never find that poet in me.

With the exhaustion in my eyes carried by the strokes of nicotine, I tried to draw the face of my woman. I took my index finger into the air, trying to draw her face, her smile, her eyes, the way she walked, the way her hair danced and reflected the sunshine to light my world. I tried to draw this all with the blood of my eyes. But then,” Funny how even the dearest face will fade away in time.”

The hour hand of the watch was close to 6 when the thought of heading towards the railway station came to me. I took my backpack on my shoulders like an old man carrying the load of his day’s hard work. I drew my feet forward, making lazy movements, like a lost traveler. From a distance I could see the woman of my dreams. Through the clouded labyrinth of people, she looked isolated. The scene before my eyes was nothing compared to the confident man I had wished to be. I walked in the motion of an old man, trying to defeat every trace of the density that the air offered. She walked in a miles speed, never to look behind. I walked. She raced.

The train pulled to move forward, giving a last chance to the commuters to take their places inside. I looked upon a window where she had taken her place. She had cupped her face into her hands. A tired day, perhaps, I thought. I kept looking upon the window. “That’s all I could do.”


© Aarif Muzafar Rather


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