She gets up from the bench and looks at her watch. 14:00.. It’s been one hour since she last checked and three hours since her train should have arrived. “7pm, Kerala Express” “7 pm?!, you mean in 10 hours??” 9 hours, 7pm he repeats.
A 9 hour delay, normal. After reading for a few hours she looks at the man next to her. He’s been sitting there since the morning too. Can she trust him? She’d been watching him for a bit. He held dark skin and a bushy mustache with a somewhat familiar face. Really needing to use the bathroom, she continues to watch him, contemplating whether her suitcase would be safe here. A school of children pass by all dressed in orange and holding two bags each. A lady trails in the back and as she walks, a plastic bottle is kicked behind her legs, landing by the man’s feet. He looks at her and grabs the bottle, setting it aside. He looks about and spots a trash can a few feet away. Standing up, he grabs he bottle and throws it in the bin. Abnormal. She grabs her suitcase and moves it closer to the next bench over where he is sitting. When he sits back down, he looks at her and she nods her head in a plea to safe guard her things. He nods and smiles.
People are lined down the tracks, piled in clusters of families. Suitcases filled of belongings, blankets in cases, food in hands, the station is packed. There are 16 platforms, each with its own destination. She walks down platform 3 in search of a bathroom. To her left are the tracks and a man holding a very young boy, pantsless in a squatting position. Normal. As she ventures for a the sanction of privacy, this family settles for urgency. Normal.
Platform 1. She enters the washroom and the first stall has a western style toilet. Clogged and full of shit, she moves on to the second. A squatter also clogged. Next, a squatter with no light and a floor that’s soaked. With what? She prefers not to know. She enters and shuts the door behind her. Turning on her flashlight she looks for a dry spot to place her bag. The back left corner. She puts it down and looks for a tampon and wet wipes, her life. Pulling her pants down and settling into a squat, she releases her bowels. Relief. She looks at her wipes and then looks at the water tap to her left. Do you wash a window with just paper or with water too? Deciding to try this forgein technique, she opens the faucet and fills a cut open gallon in front of her. Once filled, she brings her left hand to her bottom and begins pouring the water. Water splashes everywhere but her target. Again. She fills the gallon and repositions her hand. Spllllassshhhh down her legs and shirt, everything but her target. Again. She refills the gallon, turns her torso, and widens her squat. This time, she gets it. And washing away all kinds of feces, she understands how something so primitive still exists. Normal.
Walking back to platform 3, she strides feeling clean, refreshed and ready. To her right are the tracks and a man holding a very young boy pantsless in a squatting position. The same boy except he now has feces smothered all over his ass, the back of his thighs and in between his legs. Did he roll around in his shit? Normal. His father encourages him to keep trying and the boy sits laughing. She stares, not wondering whether it is in disbelief or disgust. She walks over to her bench and nods to the man who sits in the next bench over. Thank you, her eyes implore. She turns back to the little boy and his dad who now has the mother standing by with a liter water bottle ready in hand. Normal she decides. She stares at the normalcy around her.