8:08 Churchgate Slow Train

by , under Fiction Prompts, What Pegman Saw

Every weekday I take the 8:08 Churchgate slow train from platform number two in Borivali.

At 8:40 I get off the train at Mahalaxmi.

At 8:45,  bus number 154 arrives and I arrive at my office between 8:56 and 9:04.

There have been four occasions in the past twenty years when I was late because of a train delay.

Three were due to flooding, in 2005, 2013, and 2014.

The last occurred just last week when a young man threw himself onto the tracks and was killed.

I realized later I had seen the young man before, several times.

You would think it would be hard to notice a single man in all this throng, but he was unusual in that he was always openly weeping.

I can visualize him standing there, holding the bar, his slim body wracked by silent sobs, his young face shining with tears.

None of the passengers spoke a single word to him, myself included.


What Pegman Saw: Mumbai

  1. pennygadd51

    A tragic and believable end. I like the way you use the transport detail as a plot device to highlight the ordinary/extraordinary nature of the death. We never know when a word spoken kindly could save somebody from despair.

    • J Hardy Carroll

      Thanks, Penny. That was indeed my point. A kind word can save a life. This poor young man felt entirely alone among the millions. I guess he was.

  2. tskraghu

    Pretty close!

    Have u actually traveled by a Mumbai train in the morning hour?? The guys hanging around him would as easily do it for him.

  3. k rawson

    Chilling and poignant but also so plausible. I have the sense the narrator will always wonder if he could have changed things.

  4. Joy Pixley

    It’s odd how you can see crowds of people every day, and yet one or two in particular stand out for you to remember. Humans are such pattern-seeking creatures, that way. Of course, if this man was the only one crying in public, and he kept doing it every day, he’d draw the notice of many people And yet, seeing that nobody else talked to him dissuades each individual from doing it themselves, and he remains isolated in his pain even then.

  5. 4963andypop

    Man’s indifference to man. Your character seems to take pride in his promptness, and catalogs each inconvenient delay with the same sense of distaste.

  6. DebraB

    Very sad story, and very believable as well. I love specificity of the narrator’s memory and how unvarying his routines are.

  7. Violet Lentz

    Especially in huge crowds, survival mode takes over and blinds us to everything but reaching our goal I think. This was expertly written.

  8. Lynn Love

    This touches a nerve, Josh. There’s often a homeless guy on our high street who I see crying. He’s usually drunk, so to be honest I avoid him. But I do wonder what turmoil he goes through.
    As Penny sai, the construction of this really highlighted the mundane but extraordinary events, the normal and abnormalness of a delayed train. Really well written


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