Creative Writing: Musings on a Train

Musings on a Train by Sylvia Keogh

The train lurched giddily from side to side..gatchy -gatch,gah- gatchy,gatchy-gah,disallowing the usual hypnotic lure towards sleep which I have always associated with train journeys.This ear splitting racket thundered through the barred but glass less windows,prohibiting any conversation unless one had the habit of bellowing.The lurching only allowed me to read a few pages in short bursts before travel sickness demanded I stop.And so I sat there as the familiar movie that is India slipped by my window.

My travelling companion slept the sleep of the innocents.He could sleep anywhere,anytime and he did.I alternately admired,envied,or was resentful of the fact that Morpheus always came to his rescue but never to mine.

I drifted again into musing on the circumstances which had brought us here together.He was now resenting every minute of the trip and that resentment was seeping towards me.

After all it was I who had planted the seed with photographs and stories of a previous trip I had taken alone a few years before.We were acquaintances then,but had become firm friends very quickly despite our age difference,and so we had carefully planned this trip.

Now he was so discontented that he saw those photographs and the books I had shown him containing information on customs,religions and landscapes as some mendacious plot used to entice him to India to fulfil the role of my sidekick and rucksack wallah.

The poverty,filth and man’s inhumanity of o others and animals
got to all of us at times,but he became so jaundiced that he was blind to the beauty.That sense of slipping in and out of centuries and the brilliant technicolored world which would not have seemed out of place in a Cecil B deMille film and can be found everywhere in India.

I loved watching from the windows the story of India,the dawn ablutions by rivers and lakes of people and their buffaloes.The brightly stride women filling their various containers at the wells to be carried home on their heads,their backs straighter than any catwalk model.Later when the big orange sun was sinking smoke from the cow dung patties drifted skywards and the aromas of curries were mouth watering.

My lone travels seemed so easy now.Besides a few inevitable hassles,I had lost myself in the magic of the diversity I found in and between the Holy places,the Mughal palaces,beaches and the foothills of Everest.I determined then that I would not allow his resentment to tarnish my romantic memories or this trip.
We were now on our way to an elephant festival,it would be a joyful,riotous affair of grandly caparisoned elephant processions and the mahouts would be almost as impressive.There would be the inevitable tinny music played on long trumpet style instruments.I was going to have a good time,I would not allow this parade to be rained on by his black mood.We would go our separate ways.

Creative Writing – The Past

Here is another great example of writing from the creative writing courses here at WMC. This is a piece by Sebastian Kola Bankole titled “The Past”

The Past

I shuffle out of the building, my pace at odds with my thoughts. It’s already dark but unseasonably warm for mid-November and as I head up towards Charing Cross Road, not even the pedestrians, armed with the most dangerous of weapons – a mobile phone – can dampen my exhilaration. I pause under the alcove of a restaurant and fumble in my coat pocket for my phone. I fire off a tweet – “The past is the foundation to our psyche.” Ne’er have truer words been said. #switzerland #patriciahighsmith #longlivethomasripley

 

I pocket my phone with a smirk and amble towards Tottenham Court Road station. I had known little about the play so had devoured the programme before it started. It was a one-hander about Patricia Highsmith, a writer of whose body of work I knew almost nothing, except that one novel was adapted into a movie starring Matt Damon. I was surprised to learn people had described her, almost universally, as unlikeable. She had endured an abusive childhood but boasted that it was what made her a good writer. The trade-off, one she gladly and unashamedly accepted, was that it also made her a bitch – her words. That certainly came through in the incredible performance of the lead actress, the one from Downton Abbey… Mrs Crawley? 

 

And then there was that line, the one that hit me like a freight train. Why did it stir me so; it was not even a novel idea! It’s precisely why I lie on my back five times a week, whining about my childhood to Misha. But there was something about how she phrased those words that really ignited something within me. I hadn’t felt like this for a while and couldn’t wait to explore this with Misha tomorrow. It’s funny how the strangest things can rekindle your desire to live.

 

I now realise I have walked past the station and am sweating under this heavy coat. I stop to take it off and a woman pushing a toddler in his pram, on her phone, almost knocks into me. She continues past but the boy drops his ball and it rolls onto the side of the road.

 

“Excuse me, you dropped something!”

 

She carries on, oblivious to my (and his) cries so I limp to the kerb and seeing no headlights, I step off to pick it up. The last things my eyes see is a bicycle wheel which, in a slow arc, transforms into a beautiful view of the night sky. And as I lie on my back, I also see myself. I am eight or nine, in the backseat of the old Toyota, leaning between the front seats and listening, for the millionth time, to Mum’s story about how I’d always loved to read. And once, as she drove past a billboard for Maggi cubes, five-year-old me had asked, “Mum, what is maggie cob-ez?” We both bellow in laughter. It’s funny how the past stays with you right until the very end.

 

The Big Draw Drawing

As part of WMC’s involvement in the Big Draw Festival this year (www.thebigdraw.org) The Foundation Diploma in Art and Design and Level 1 In drawing Painting and Mixed media have collaborated on a large scale portrait of the college for display in our 3rd floor Gallery. Both courses begin with an exploration of mark making and this was a brilliant opportunity for learners to show off their skills!