Mar 1, 2015

Train

It was somewhere between a slightly drunk rendition of a Six Pence None The Richer song, that I turned around gigglingly, towards the bar set up at the back. The entrance of the second floor establishment, was right beside the bar at the back end of the room, and I saw their party of three come into the lounge. 

The two men with their arms draped casually around each other, looking every bit the couple they were, laughing about something with their heads thrown back - and the woman with them sauntering in ahead of them, with purposeful steps, hips swaying slightly with her strides. Her face broke out into a toothy grin, eyes widening at the words that scrolled, projected on the wall at the back end of the dimly lit lounge. I heard my friend start to sing, and I forced my gaze back to the scrolling words and joined her once again. 

Kiss me, down by the broken treehouse
Swing me upon its hanging tree
Bring, bring, bring your flowered hat,
We’ll take the trail marked on your fathers map,

So kiss me. 


~

Waking up hungover was so much easier five years ago - what could have possibly changed in five years? My entire body groaned in resistance as I crawled out of bed. Slowly, I set about getting ready to leave for work and once I close the door behind me an hour later, I take my phone out to message my two best friends. 

Quickly I type a one liner and hit send, moving on to catch a cab with a slight smile on my lips. 

I met the most amazing woman last night.

~

There are more people in the dimly lit lounge now - and a few of them are looking on expectantly while the others talking in hushed voices, as she takes to the little clearing in the middle of the room, right in front of the song prompter. I am there with my college friends, a long planned reunion, and we were already slightly drunk from the party we went to before this, and we are fully expecting to move on from here to another party soon enough. We have taken an entire couch and a pitcher of sangria lies for us to devour. 

She has everyones attention at her first note. 

I see you driving 'round town with the girl I love
and I'm like,
FUCK YOU!
Ooo, ooo, oooo!

I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough
I'm like,
FUCK YOU!
And fuck her too.

Dear God could the woman sing or what? I think to myself, staring at her owning the song, utterly mesmerized. She sings into the microphone as if being a regular rockstar was her day job, swinging her hips in time to the music. Vaguely I hear my friends - and the rest of the crowd, cheer her on as she hits a particularly high pitched note, and all I can do is stare at her. She turns in the general direction of my cheering friends and for an instant locks eyes with me. 

Before I could wipe the stupid dazed look off my face, she’s moved back to her next verse. 

~

'Oooooo deetails!' comes the instant reply from Bestie #1. Bestie #2 follows soon enough with a predictable 'Boobs?'. Men! I laugh to myself and switch on my system at work. Within minutes I am knee deep in emails and deadlines and presentations, with the sound of her voice pushed to the very back of my mind. For now. 

Bestie #3 catches me humming to myself as I wait for the printer to churn out my page around lunch time, and asks me whats that song I am humming. I give her the widest grin and she gives me a confused smile in return, before we are interrupted by other friends. 

Six hours later when I leave for home, I am still humming my song.  

Na na na na, na na, na na na na, na na naaaaa. 

~

By the end of the night, I had had enough alcohol in me to stumble over to the guys managing the song requests and put in my song. It happened to be the last one they’d take for the night. Only slightly tipsy on my feet, but highly skeptical of the vocal skills I had once possessed and hadn’t used since I graduated, I take the mike in my hands as my song comes up. I have my sights trained on the prompter, and behind me I overhear her take a look at the screen and gasp in delight at my song choice. 

I turn and give her a smile without much thought (all that sangria probably went to my head) to which she gushes, ‘Oh what a great song!’

‘Yeah, its been a favorite for over a decade!’ I murmur to her insignificantly, considering she has already turned away. 

I take a deep breath and get back to my song, as a general hush falls over the room. I allow myself to get back ten years in time, back to the carefree sneaker-wearing, basketball-playing, band-singer girl I was. Who could get on and belt a song right from the heart, without thinking about anything else apart from why the song meant so much. 

And this one did. Oh it really really did. 

Now that she's back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there's a time to change, hey, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey   

I start to smile, when the hush breaks out in delighted sing-alongs because this ones a crowd favorite, and…. it looks like I still got game. Bolstered by the clapping and the cheering, I take control of my song like I'd never let go.  

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

My friend joins me, because we both sang this song together long ago in college, and she credits herself as the one who introduced me to the song. Our voices echo in perfect symphony, I was back in college when we had dedicated the song to our then boyfriends. 

Ten years on, her boyfriend was sitting on the couch in front of us, grinning and filming us sing together on his phone. 

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star–
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

My fingers itch, wishing I had my guitar to play along too. 

~

The wind gushes past my face, as music blares into my ears, while I stand at the footboard of the train. I am in no hurry to make my way home today, smiling to myself as I take my usual moderately crowded 06.17 Andheri slow. My thoughts are a strange amalgamation of the woman from last night, band practices from long ago, cobbled streets and cheese omelettes. 

The last boy I sang Drops of Jupiter to, the one with the dimpled smile and the softest brown eyes. 

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the Milky Way?
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind?
Was it everything you wanted to find?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?

I think about how I was so convinced of how life was going to turn out back then. 
I had never been so wrong.    

~

It is hard to ignore the slight shiver that runs down my spine as she curls her arms around my waist for my favorite verse. Apparently, its her favorite too. I shift so the mike is between us now and I put my arm around her too, awkwardly half-hugging her as we sing like we’ve done this a million times before. In reality, I have never done anything like this in a really long time.  

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken?
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you're wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversation?
The best soy latte that you ever had and me

She turns to me and gives me that beautiful toothy smile, and I swear I am a goner. 

But tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way?
And tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?

My friend catches the look on my face from the other end of the room, and smiles to me. Her boyfriend smiles too and zooms in on his phone camera which has been filming us all sing, to only me and her now. My friend fades out her notes until its only the two of us singing.  

And tell me, did you fall for a shooting star,
One without a permanent scar?
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na

And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na
And did you fall for a shooting star, fall for a shooting star?
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na
And now you're lonely looking for yourself out there.

We finish the song together and it was magic. 

My friends jump up and everyones laughing and cheering and clinking sangria glasses together, happy to have had this slice of college back. Everyone feels 17 again. 

A minute later, I turn around to search for her, only to find that she’s already left. 

~

Its 11.54 AM in the night, and I am flipping through channels to see whats on TV when a beep on my phone alerts me to an incoming media file. Without particularly paying attention to my phone, I let it download. My phone alerts me again when its done downloading, and I swipe it open. Its the video that my friends boyfriend took last night of us singing. 

I watch the whole thing with a smile on my face. Singing along too, because its impossible not to. At the very end of the clip, I see her walking away with her two friends when I was busy hugging my friends and laughing and talking. 


Just before she takes the stairs to leave the room, she turns towards me and smiles. 

~

Annie.
P.S.: Full disclosure. Most of this story is not a work of fiction. The keyword being, most. Suffice it is to say that I have taken creative liberties with how the night ended. :D 

Gorgeous girl, this is for you. In a different lifetime, in a different place, we could have been something amazing together. Stay awesome. :) 

P.P.S.: Title courtesy the band that needs to be credited for coming up with the song that has been an absolute favorite for so many years now!

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Now Playing: Drops of Jupiter | Train (Taylor Swift live cover)

1 comments:

Aathira said...

This was beautiful! Loved reading it. Just because it was short, doesn't make it any less magical :)

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