A delayed journey
“Please stay away from the closing doors.” I heard the announcement as I reached platform two of Beverly train station in Sydney.
I was late again for my work. “Oh no! Not again. Why can’t you get out of bed a little earlier” I groaned.
I stood there, breathless, trying to get some air into my lungs and looked at the train doors closing right in front of me. It had enough space for me to squeeze in, slid inside one of the compartments, and I would not be late to work. I would not have to go through the situation of nagging and explaining with my boss. My whole day would not be ruined that way.
Thinking all this in my head, I was tempted to just get in and squeeze myself through those closing doors. But I knew it was not right. It was not safe. I knew a train door is very different from that of the elevator and it won’t open wide as I try to slide inside through the gap. So, I just let it pass by and sat down in one of the chairs on the platform and took a sip of water to wet my throat that went dry with all the running and hustling to catch the morning train.
I stared at the screen; it said the next train would arrive in 15 minutes. I gazed around the platform and there were hardly 5 of us who missed the train. A guy sitting next to me was frowning too. He looked at me and complained about the train being a minute earlier than the scheduled time. I did not know how to react, so I just smiled back through my mask.
When all these things were happening in reality, I slipped through memories and things that had happened and were happening in my life. A little deeper, more than just in the surface of that moment and missing a train for work.
This was not my first time missing a train and a lot of other things in life. There have been multiple times I felt like time was not really on my side, mostly when I would end up being late in dealing with things and people that were precious to me.
An unfortunate and challenging situation that quickly appears in my mind when I think about being late is my brother’s untimely death. He was just 16 and it was shocking, terrifying, challenging, unbelievable and so many other words that would never be able to explain what it was like. I had lost a best friend. Moreover, I did have regrets about being a little late with many things that I wanted to do with him and for him and things I could have done.
When they passed me the news of my brother’s demise, I could not stop myself from going through regrets I am going to have for the rest of my life before I could even process that he is gone. I just questioned why I did not do things that were possible. For instance, I broke my head thinking why I did not go home to see him during my vacation. Why did I do that? I promised him, I would be able to get him a birthday cake and a present some year soon and I never would get that chance again.
If I wished I guess I could have done that while he was alive, but I did not. I couldn’t stop thinking and questioning the choices I had made like that day in the train station, about how I could have just slid in through that small gap or how I could have woke up early. I could not stop thinking how I could have saved a little and got him a present and a cake, how I could have gone home during vacation, how I could have just told him that I love him and that he was brave. I just could not stop thinking about such things and sail in the boat of regrets because that was the dead-end for me to ever do something for him.
While I was pondering in these thoughts so deep and sad, a funny and embarrassing flashback came into my brain. It was during my college days when I and my friends were a bit rebellious and thought we ruled the classroom. I am not sure if we did but that was our belief.
Our classes would start as early as 7 or 8 in the morning. We were living in hostel accommodation and were lazy bones who had to snore until 7 am. By the time we got out of bed and got turns to use the bathroom, we would always be late for our classes. So, we would just slip out of the door at the last moment or request the security to let us go in for the last time. Finally, one day the security figured out there is no last time to be late for classes and this was our everyday routine, so he made us go and meet the principal.
After a few research around the hostel, we found useful and harmful information that said, “we could cross the bars in the top of our building and get to the other side.” It was proved to be safe because they were joint building, and the bars could handle heavyweight. I know it sounds terrible and against the rules of the college, but this became our new routine to go to classes until our librarian caught us red-handed during our third year in college then we had to be decent students.
I laughed to myself remembering those memories and quirked my eyebrows thinking wow, we were a kind of people and to this day all of us are late in one or the other event we schedule.
One of the staff at the station announced again, “Good morning passengers! The next train to arrive on platform 2 is delayed by 20 minutes due to some mechanical issues. We apologize for the delay.”
I was surprised at how fast 15 minutes passed by and frustrated by the announcement that was made. I should tell you the guy next to me was angry and was shouting at the speaker and yelled, “What do you mean it is delayed? I have to get to work. My shift will start in another 20 minutes.”
He threw his legs and arms around in the wind and kept mumbling for a while. I did not realise I was watching all his actions until he gestured to me with his hands. I looked away quickly. He came back, sat down on the chair, and told me, you know this happens all the time for one or the other reason and they apologize for the delay. What good is that going to do to me? I will apologize to my manager but will probably get yelling anyway.
I just listened and said, I was going to get into trouble myself and that was it. I was back to my thoughts and inside my brain, opening the compartments of being late. A big box of memory opened in my brain. It had been a while since I visited that place because it meant so much to me and was the dearest thing I desired for.
There was this boy I knew and had a huge crush on him for a few months. He was gorgeous, like more than handsome. I was in my twenties when I met him and fell head over heels. I would say those gorgeous green bluish eyes would make anyone fall for him. It was the most beautiful feeling from crushing hard on him to finally going out with him. But I guess what people called the right timing somehow led us to split and it felt like it was the end.
I would not say this happened overnight, neither the part of getting together nor the part of departing. It took us years to fall and fail. We would talk about how nice it would have been if we were together before 2 years than that of the time we were dating. Then, conversations changed to maybe it would be nice if we had met 2 years later than the time we were dating. Things just shifted slowly but constantly. I knew I was at fault; I knew I should have changed but I could not. I assumed I was busy, so I blamed the timing and walked away. I thought I was not myself during that time.
One day I woke up and realised what I had done, what I had lost, and how different life has become when it had all the potentials to be something else. Another 2 years had passed by, and I had not done much about it. I guess I have always delayed things. I grabbed my phone and searched for the name that had been so important to me all this while.
I am not bragging but my heart did skip a beat to see that name pop on my screen. I took a few deep breaths, walked around a little to loosen myself and did a voice test before I pressed that call button. I did not know what I would say so I practised saying hello 10 times in case I might forget the word. I was nervous, shaking, and shivering. I could feel my heart pumping hard, but I pressed the call button anyway.
The first ring, second ring, third ring and halfway through the fifth came a voice from the other side.
I could not utter a word or move. It was like as if I froze.
Hello! Who is this?
Finally, after a while, I said hello back and he recognized me. Just like that. It made me so happy and gave me hope of maybe he is in the same place as I am. We talked for a while, and he told me he had moved on with his life.
He said, “I waited for you to come back but now I do not feel the same way about you. Things have changed and so has life. I guess you were quite late to realise all this. I appreciate your effort in giving me a call. It was nice to talk to you. Gotta go. Bye.”
It gave a beep sound as he hung up on me and it just hit somewhere deep and broke me, I do not know where exactly. But it said, “Late Again.” And just like that, I lost the person that was the love of my life.
The announcement came again after 10 minutes and woke me up from what I was thinking. The mechanical issue of the train was resolved earlier than expected and the platform was crowded with all the people waiting to board on the train and start their day. Some of them were complaining and murmuring about the delay, some of them just chilling with some music, and some of them finding an alternate way of travel. That is how people on that platform were dealing with the train delay.
I guess that is how life is. Not everything has a scheduled time so we would know when we are being late and things that have a fixed time can delay too. We just have to deal with it. We just try not to be late. The saddest part is sometime being late costs us more than a fortune. I guess it costs us life, relationships, and people. Yet, it is so hard to skip the delay.