Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Not the Tomai Train

Just because someone does not disagree with what you say or does not comment, does not mean that they endorse you, agree with you, empathize, collude, feel just as you do, think the same way, are in perfect harmony with you. We keep mistaking other worlds for us – imagining a world that’s ours, that’s part of us, a world where we belong.

A flurry of bright leaves rushes past the train window. They’re not me, but I enjoy the sight of them.

My tactics are to duck and dive, to avoid, evade, keep silent, rather than state my position. I don’t much want to be a position anyway, no fixed co-ordinates. I prefer slow trains

and fast rivers, rolling waves and green tinted oceans,

 landscapes I have never seen before.

Groves of olives,

coloured leaves flung past the window of the train. 
When I alight, who will I be? A handful of sand, slipping through fingers? 

The feel of humid air that’s lifted off the ocean, touching skin? 
Whale-shaped clouds, ironed flat against the sky? 

The young woman with clear olive skin wears a waistcoat that says on the back – CLEANING YOUR EAST COAST TRAIN – in large white capital letters against a navy blue background. She walks up the aisle of the train with her large rubbish bag, scrupulously clean – she walks too quickly – I only just have time to scoop up my empty coffee container and hand it to her. She says nothing – has no need to – her function is clearly written on her back – what else is there to say?

The server of hot drinks and snacks pushing the trolley, takes a call on his mobile phone, breaks off negotiations with two coffee-seeking customers, pushes the trolley back across the junction between carriages. The floor is uneven here, it bumps and rattles. A long stalk of piled-up plastic mugs curls over slightly like a slender tree branch, wobbles, brushes against the ceiling of the corridor that links the cars.

When he comes back, he explains that a plumber working in his house has just cut through a pipe … it will cost me 1000s he says, brand new house too...he serves the coffees to the wrong pair of people, a young American couple, instead of the elderly couple from Newcastle who were too polite to say anything. The American youth flatly refuse the coffee, which is when the Newcastle couple murmur that ...actually...they would like some.
Bet you’d rather not have known, someone else says to the trolley vendor, commiserating.....

The thin, pressed-flat clouds were stretched into faint colours, pink...green

When you are not with me in Tomai...

...the young US couple both have small laptops....they discuss things, she gets irked at him sometimes but he remains steady, cool, his voice does not change pitch. Sometimes they laugh at some absurdity.

..I chisel you day and night
in the middle of the garden....


I remember looking out of the third floor window, even leaning out of it, to get a better view perhaps..... then rush downstairs to the Hallelujah Hardware All-Purpose Store, which the proprietress has owned since the 1940s – or – perhaps it was her mother...at any rate, it’s been in the family for a long long time and it sells almost everything you could imagine....I rush downstairs to buy rubber gloves for washing up (for at least then I’ll be active, I’ll be doing something) I can glory in the movement, in the shiny dishes and clean counters, in the sense of accomplishment, in this strange and novel desire to clean, to tidy, to make fragrant, to refresh, to renew, to remove staleness, dirt, inertia, inability, apathy, dust, congealed food, crumbs, stains....

Or I rush downstairs to go to the nearby supermarket, to get some small thing that’s been forgotten – toothbrush, coffee, milk – or things that have not been forgotten but can clearly only be bought in the morning such as fresh croissants, flown in from the boulangerie in the 13e arrondissement, arriving in time for the 6 am opening of the supermarket...

I take the steps two at a time, to go and walk in the neighbouring park, trotting among damp leaves, slippery underfoot, where dog-owners call to misshaped dogs, and where, further on, I pass allotments and even further on, the maroon and yellow trains pass just a few meters from my outstretched hand. 


When you are not with me in Tomai...

...on behalf of myself and the team here at East Coast trains, I’d like to thank you for travelling with us today...Peterborough, your next station stop...

..I chisel you day and night
in the middle of the garden out of the crystal clear
air of Karst....
– Josip Osti, translated by Evald Flisar 
(in Ljubljana Tales, published by New Europe Writers 2012)


The Solitary Walker said...

I very much enjoyed reading this, dritanje. A wonderful start to the New Year. Seen with a writer's eye.

Ducking and diving, witnessing from the edges, often in silence. Melding in like a chameleon. Observing what is — what is separate from oneself, and what is connected to oneself. The small details, the absurdities.

There are other worlds and they are not us.

dritanje said...

thank you for your perceptive comment solitary walker. Often what goes on in trains, while quite banal, has a quality to it that tends not to be found in other public places as in for example, a concert hall or a cafe, where people tend to remain in their own separate pockets. I came across this in a notebook, I'd quite forgotten writing it - then there's what one is reading at the time, that weaves in and out of what goes on around one...

Forest Dream Weaver said...

Looks like these rail tracks will be carrying you further into the mystery! As always I enjoy viewing your photos.Great start to the year.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year!