it was doomed to be a miserable ride back to ipoh. the carriages were full and the woman assigned to the next seat spent a good 10 minutes adjusting her luggage in the aisle before she stopped fidgeting. i resisted suggesting that she put the bag in the overhead compartment. people can do whatever is most comfortable for them, i thought, eventhough she looked far from comfortable with the present arrangement.
i turned my attention to music. the first song was about a “what if” relationship, an unfulfilled longing and a noble decision to “wait for life”. i did the appropriately emo thing and let my eyes wander out of the window. the diminishing sunlight was just enough for me to make out a pair of vagabonds walking along the tracks. they carried small bags on their shoulders and walking sticks in their hands. yet rather than wonder where they were going, about the epiphanies they must have collected in their sojourn, i thought about trespassing laws and how dangerous their actions were.
i was startled by my lack of imagination and romance. i had just finished reading murakami’s “norwegian wood” – a love story of sorts, chock full of youthful idealism and hedonism that is stereotypical of the 60s. last night i identified with the protagonist’s quiet pain and naive martyrdom, so much so i felt my own heart breaking every time i inhaled. i fell asleep to shallow breaths and woke up this morning embarrassed by my private display of irrational grief.
but barely half a day later, i am devoid of all emotion. i spent the next 2 hours on the train trying in vain to sleep, crossing and uncrossing my legs, feeling every bit as uncomfortable as my neighbour. i tried to let my mind wander again, tried to squeeze a little bit of feeling from the events of the last couple of days – but even my wistful “what ifs” from an encounter over coffee which, at the time, were worthy of a song of their own, were insufficient to stir me. it was a lost cause.
is it an inbuilt mechanism, designed to ensure that i can function at work tomorrow and the days following that? erasing the tracks of my heart and putting my head back in control? it was doomed to be a miserable ride back to reality, but i never anticipated it would be that bad.