The Lost Train
the notorious “Sikkim-Mahananda Express”,
which once made me lose a flight,
dedicated to Rajesh Poonia, who helped me out.
We were three at a loss for a train that was lost,
and we wondered: What are we to do?
They were my very last days in India,
I couldn’t afford to lose any connection,
and I was advised by the Ticket Collector
to simply jump on the next train.
My two friends were reluctant to take such a risk:
What if, then, they had to stand all the night up
without seats, without berths, without ticket?
They stayed to wait patiently for the lost train,
that, according to the latest news,
so far was only twelve hours late,
maybe fifteen, but that was some hours ago.
I jumped on the next train and sat up all night through
without berth, although I had paid for one,
while the ticket conductor could help me with nothing
except that, at least, he could not throw me off.
The next day, when we reached Allahabad,
some sorely tried passengers entered the train.
They also were victims of the Mahananda Express,
which by now was nineteen hours late,
and the ladies were crying most pitiably unconsolably.
My chance on the North East Express
at least spared me one day, although sitting
that whole night on that shaky train was uncomfortable.
Nothing was ever heard any more from the train that was lost,
having actually added every second hour one hour of further delay,
and my friends that were on it were lost with it too,
at least they also were never heard of again.
Like an Indian equivalent to the notorious Flying Dutchman,
that train is most probably still getting on somewhere
constantly adding to its overwhelming delay,
like some train out of time, out of touch with the world,
lost in different dimensions, like so many things are
in that most particularly charming Indian subcontinent.