It pulls itself onto the railings of gleaming sun scorched iron, which are fastened to large bars of concrete, placed at a fixed distance from each other cushioned in stones and gravelly rocks. Three hundred and seventy tons of moving iron and several other metals slide along these railings and slowly come to a slow motion halt with several screeching sounds. These three hundred and seventy tons are powered to life by twenty four thousand volts of surging electric charge.
The people of an entire nation wait impatiently to climb aboard this locomotive. They attack the train even before it stops, minimizing the chances of anyone inside alighting without a minor injury. They leap onto its body and pull themselves onto and inside it; a wriggling mass of a thousand people trying to tear their way into a door that’s 5 feet wide. There is chaos and screaming for about 3 minutes and then the locomotive begins to move again. The doors of the locomotive compartments have people hanging on for life instead of just making it to work. Their hands reaching far, stretched to the limits of pain; fingers squeezed into every crevice they can find; hanging on by the skin of their teeth.
Approximately 90 % of statistics are made up on the spot and 90 % of these people don’t make more than a few thousand rupees a month working their life away in the grime of work offered in this sinkhole of a city. They call it the city of dreams; on the contrary it is the city of dying dreams. This is the city where 6 million people spend 4 hours or more everyday traveling on these locomotives enduring the worst just to reach their workplace with broken or hurting bodies. Well, broken and fatigued bodies can’t house healthy souls; unhealthy souls can’t keep dreams alive for too long.
However, we are numb to this now. It is a part of our life. We fondly call this numbness “the spirit of Mumbai”. Everyday new dreams are born while the old ones get washed away under these tracks. Most never come true because suddenly it is beginning to feel like there is not enough space for everyone here and most of all there is not enough for everyone to have what they want.
Driving people out of the state will not help us, giving birth to lesser children wont help us, increasing mortality rates wont help us and dreaming less is not an option because when everything hurts and there is never enough food or water and never enough of what we have, all that is left is a dream.
These trains are like dream sustenance machines. They drive us far and wide only to make us realize that our dreams are meant to be dreams and we should sleep in our broken bodies at night because the next day we travel again in hopes of making them come true, but we forget the only way back home in the dark night is by these locomotives.