Train number 7229 scuffs and paces the sun-scattering silvery rails of bare and remote villages. Mud-walled houses, like modest indifferent raccoons, rise, stare and turn away as soon.
Railway-gates where vehicles wait and watch.
Windswept platforms throwing up desolate benches.
Huge haphazardly lying boulders basking naked in the plateau sun.
I sit back as the light fails outside: into eyes that aren’t looking at anything come a hand that swings a lantern, a pattern of lights left behind in a town, a cold bulb lighting an empty street circle, a shadowy mansion with just one of its top-storey rooms still lit – someone reading?
Train number 7229 races into the wet morning with its one and twenty sooty coaches, thumping through more bare and bushy villages. Sunlight slowly filling the panes, tall green trees swinging their smiles, a river shying away amongst glistening sand – the train leaps and catches up the seven minutes it was late for Kanjikkod.