I took a train to the City, from the suburbs;
on coaches that traveled by rail,
half-filled by humans and a quarter by baggage,
I witnessed the early morning scuffle of baggage and women, pushed and pulled;
as the train moved on,
away from green and peace, into chaos and money.
I heard the rhythmic swaying of trains, machinery and chains, all quiet and loud.
I glanced across the coach and I saw two wayfarers;
one chanting mantras, another trying to exist in virtual space.
Happiness and sadness reflecting in their eyes;
then a moment of grasping arose.
I saw Death claim a soul, as the eyes of its victim stopped glistening;
even the ever on schedule train stopped; if only for moment.
For it was a city that never stopped, the train moved on,
as the nameless lay in a stretcher, in a named station;
looking more frail and old than ever.
Rest of the souls in the coach went back to their living, praying and thanking for survival.
A few tried to determine the identity of soul, lost in the million- million names of the City.
They began to discuss a City that once existed; fondly called the good bay.
The time everyone knew what you did by your name,
when people stopped and looked at the sea’s beauty,
when money was a mere piece of paper.
New friends were made and old ones rejuvenated.
One gladly said she was happy;
to know her friends as she headed off for a war.
‘What war?’ I asked, and they replied.
‘The war within the City.
The war to survive, you see?
This City doesn’t let you succeed easily; nor does it kill you.
It lets you survive. ‘Barely survive…’ said another.
The City is its people and the people the City.
The people are strong, resilient and determined such like the City’s isles.’
‘Just surviving through the ages,’ one ended this; as the next station was announced.
The people readied themselves for a battle;
a smile and a few yells greeted me as I squeezed through the crowd, to the front.
As the train pulled to stop, I landed on the platform, thankfully; from an anonymous push.
I joined the hundreds that climbed the bridge and had a bone-crushing exercise to move forward.
Rushed out of the platform, I reached the City as images from my memory flooded my sight.
I walked slowly, devouring the sights of familiar childhood and wished;
‘If only this City was made for walking!’
Slowly and then at once, a new smell arose, different from the a smell of train and filth;
as if it was conjured.
The smell of sand and sea;
while the mind wondered ‘how far can the smell of books and money be?’
I searched for my destination, old and short among-st the tallest; reminiscent of the old colonies.
I watched the sea from my destination, a proof of survival.
Slowly, she seemed to say.
“Oh, you love the City!
And you will,
love the City.”