Catching The Train?
Grandma never rode on the train and she never wanted any of us living with her to do so. She said that she was scared of train robbers and never wished to be burdened with the problems of passengers who would be complaining about one thing or the other, especially the poor people.
“What will happen to me if the train stops unexpectedly?” she often asked.
Though I did not express my wishes aloud, I longed for the day when I would ride the train and have an adventure. I was never tired of sitting and watching the train go by . I liked to hear the ‘ding-ding, ding-ding’ - like church bells peeling as the train approached the nearby railway crossing. This alerted me of the time of day and the ‘toot’- toot’ woke me up every morning at six o’clock.. The service provided by Metropolitan was excellent: It was never late.
My opportunity came earlier than I thought - on the night of Gabriel’s High School Music Festival when the function had finished later than was anticipated and, as usual, there were no buses on a Saturday night.
“I’ll take the late night train home Miss Darby,” I said to my Music teacher. “I will be fine.”
Carefully, holding my guitar, I hurried to the station and joined the waiting passengers. We were all standing on one foundation.
As the train official glanced at his watch there came the rambling, noisy Metropolitan, its bright lights shining on the rails made the narrow track appear scary.
Apart from giggling children, I was among the first passengers to board and to take a window seat towards the rear of the coach..
“May I have my seat please,” said an elderly woman to a boy .
“For years I have had this seat,” she grumbled.
The fellow shrugged his shoulders and went to the rear of the coach.
“The Lord bless you son, and this seat beside me is for Sister Vera. As soon as she gets on I’ll give her a warm embrace. Oh, I feel so tired,” she continued, wiping her face with her handkerchief then placing it on the seat she had reserved for Vera.
That scene really caused me to raise my eyebrows. I thought that there should be a sign on the inner walls, “ If you offend other passengers you may be put off the train.”
Then came on board two happy soul brothers wearing their hair real high and conversing in an unknown tongue.
“All aboard!” remarked the railway attendant as the doors closed and the journey started.
The officer spoke loudly and clearly:
“Hold on, this train is moving!”
“As the train journeyed along there was a continuous ‘ban-bang, bang-bang” accompanied by a simultaneous ‘shaking.’
At the first halt there came on board a lady whose head and neck were wrapped tightly and she wore a dark cloak which was much too large for her tiny figure.
“She must be hiding something.” I thought: “This place is a living fire!”
I felt uncomfortable when a man about thirty years old slumped himself in the seat beside me. I noticed the crookedness of two of his fingers and was compelled to stare at them.
“What are you looking at my sister?” he asked in a friendly voice. “I am no longer a pick-pocket : Like you, I only pick guitar strings.”
At the next halt an elderly man holding a bottle of beer approached the door but seeing the crowded coach, remarked as he staggered backwards:
“This train stinks!”
“Here comes a fine couple,” I thought as a well-dressed man and woman came on board. Immediately, the man addressed the people:
“Good night brethren. Tonight I have a message for you. A time is coming when there will be weeping and wailing. As you know there is a time for everything – a time for joy and a time for sorrow. A time to give and a time to receive. Therefore I am appealing to everyone to give something towards the building of the community health centre.
He began collecting monies while his wife started to sing:
“Give it with love”…………
I struck the chords on my guitar and we all began to sing on one accord.
My thoughts reflected on grandma who was waiting up for me watching the clock ticking away.
Would she one day catch the train?
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