Thursday, August 23, 2007

Signs of happiness

THE TRAIN CHUGGED OUT OF Dybbølsbro at a rather lethargic pace. I was headed as usual back to Østerport to my studio apartment. After a hectic afternoon looking for the right kind of shoes, I had stopped for Italian pasta before washing it down with Coca Cola. I had shelled out a good amount of money for the total of ten things I had bought during my shopping spree but then, this is Europe. Nothing is cheap. Not even joy. I sat back gazing at the depressing roof tops that seemed more tragic under the cold and foggy Thursday afternoon.
The cabin I was in was dotted with all kinds of co-passengers. There was the well dressed yet tense seeming European gentleman who was busy punching in the keys of his cell phone. A couple of rows behind him sat a glum looking middle aged woman. She must have been quite taken from whatever it was she was reading since she sent out no hints of any expression. I wondered if she was reading only to avoid eye contact with strangers. In front of me sat a tired couple with an infant in the man’s arms. The infant looked as if it had been crying a lot with puffed up red cheeks and an inquisitive look. I smiled back at it and winked but it ignored my reaction and looked at its tiny toes instead with equal curiosity. A few more people sat peppered over other random spots either looking out the window in silent reflection or looking at each other in silent observation. So much to say but no words left anymore, it seemed.
As the train arrived at Nørreport station, a young couple walked in and sat in the row right opposite mine gesturing at each other with their hands. She was saying something interesting as he responded back with equal energy using his forefinger and palms. She would laugh with child-like innocence by covering her mouth as he would shake his head trying to convince her that he was right. Within a few moments their sign language had enveloped our cabin of silence. It was clear that everyone in that cabin was quite taken to this couple who seemed so much in love with each other. He even kissed her once as she continued giggling and enjoying his company. A few moments later she pulled out what looked like a sonogram report. With unbridled enthusiasm they both peered at the square-shaped photograph of what was presumably their first child. Each one in the cabin now focused on the couple and their bubble of exploding joy that seemed to exist without a care for the meaningless seeming world that surrounded it. The onlookers seemed envious but then they also seemed helpless. They continued waiting patiently for their stop as I got up to get down at mine.
At Østerport the train whizzed past me and I could still see the mute couple laughing and sharing their world of bliss. How odd, I thought, that in a few moments of silence they had shared more than anyone in that cabin ever could with spoken words. I walked out of the station wishing them the best of luck.
Love knows no language. Hate knows only one.

3 reflections:

VENU VINOD said...

simply superb!
Thanks for picturising the very facets of life in europe. story of mute couple is inspiring....well written Shashi

shakri said...

Thank you Venu. I am glad you were able to connect with the abundant signs of joy this piece was aimed at portraying. Good to see you here. :)


Yashashwini Y P said...