At 3, it was this dark, frightening hole through which a red-eyed, long-toothed monster would come and gobble me up if I did not drink that glass of milk.
At 6, it was a useful diversion for my mom who was bored with my constant “Mummy, can I sleep in the upper berth?” queries. A moving screen of continuous entertainment for a wide eyed kid who was more afraid of the heavy glass screen falling and chopping off his finger than of the red-eyed, long-toothed monster.
At 9, it was this wonderful opening through which aromatic coffee (“kids should drink milk, it is healthier”), mouth watering medu wadas (“God knows what oil he used… you will get a stomach upset”) and delicious icecreams (“you will get a bad cold… ice creams are a strict no-no”) wafted by temptingly out-of-reach.
At 12, it was the object of a terrible fight between me and my younger brother, as to who will get to sit near it. A fight which ended with, “You are the elder brother. You have had your share of sitting beside it. Now, let your brother sit there”, and made me realize that elder brothers were supposed to be mature and that it was certainly not acceptable to kick your brother over a mere seat.
At 15, it was the sentimental space through which I looked longingly at my mom’s face as the train slowly snaked away from the station, leaving me behind to survive in this big bad city, feeling so lonely in that crowded platform.
At 18, it was the slot through which my dad passed a 500 rupee note “for expenses”, just as the train was leaving the station, in spite of my repeated “I don’t want money”. (yeah, yeah, there was a time when I used to say that!!!). I suddenly felt all grown up and responsible, handling so much cash.
At 21, it was the peephole through which I could ogle at the few good looking chicks on the platform, dreaming that one of them would come and sit in front of me, we would talk, and things would happen, and I will live happily ever after.
At 24, with a nice job and some spare cash to sit in a more expensive compartment, it is just a dark glass pane with a curtain which cuts you off from the stench and filth of life’s realities.