“Are you fine?” I say to the girl sitting next to me in the Metro. She wore a white Tank top with words ‘New York’ printed, torn blue jeans indicating that she had been in certain sort of struggle recently, both internal and external. She wore sneakers with dirt sticking on them. Her curly hair was tied messily in a pony tail and the eyes peeping through her big blue spectacles looked sick of crying.
She seemed to be lost in her own thoughts for she did not reply to my query. I asked the same question again, this time she nods, her beautiful green eyes staring at me. I nodded as well and she managed a smile on her face.
“Thank you for asking. Nobody talks to strangers nowadays. Nobody bothers about anyone anyways!” I smile at her reply. She appears quite balanced to me for being a teenager.
“Where are you headed to?” I ask.
“Me! The last station.”
“Yes, And then I will change my trains that would be heading to someplace else and then I’d switch thee stations again and I would keep on doing this until I find… “She stops for a second, looking unsure on whether sharing her destination or not.
“Um. Your way back home?”I say in a dreaming voice.
“No, no. The last station, like I told you before, the last station among all!”
“So, basically, you’re headed for nowhere?”
“Um. Yeah, you can say that. I’m headed for nowhere, somewhere, everywhere, in fact, anywhere at all. I just like to keep moving, you see destination does not matter, but the path does.”
“Destinations do not matter? They are the reasons why people take that path. Isn’t it?”
She smiles at me and looks out of the window.
“That is the thing, you see. Look outside; the world lies wrapped in wonder. Look at those birds flying, or the clouds decipher into infinite shapes, or those cars moving.Oh, you look at them now, but not usually. Why? Because your mind is too preoccupied for things that are to happen. It is always busy calculating how much more time we would be taking to reach our destination. We forget to live in the moment. Don’t we?”
I nod. That is something people have been telling me for decades, I reckon.
“But is just staying on the path the only way out? Don’t you feel homesick? And what about people in your life?”
She looks away, avoiding my gaze and sighs.”Are you afraid of monsters?” she asks.
“Yes. Yes, I am.”
“So am I. And home is full of them. And so is my school and so is every other place where I am related to. I’ve hated those places and the people for too long, that I’m afraid that even they’ve started to hate me back. The people hate me for I’m weird. And the places hate me for I never stay there. That’s what my struggle is all about. I feel homesick, yes, but when I am at home, I feel sick again. That appears weird, I know, but that is the way it is.”
I look at her again, dumbstruck.
“So, you ran away?”
“No, of course not.” She laughs, “I did not ‘run’ away, I just run away, everyday. I go to places where I wish to go, and then I go back there, to mark my existence. To tell them I am still alive. And they lock me up again, and I run away, again. Simple, enough!”
“It’s not simple. It’s complex.” I mutter.
She laughs again. “It’d be simple when you’d realize that you yourself are not happy in where you are! You’d realize it when you’d get to know the difference between living and existing.”
My stop arrives and I stand up to leave.
“See! You have a definite destination. I do not. I can go wherever I want, whenever I want. I just hope you’d come out of your cage some day as well.” She says.
“I wish you’d find your last station soon.” I say and smile.
She looks at me in utter disbelief, then laughs again, “Surely!” She smiles.
When I reach home that day, I realize what she was talking about. Walking back from my classes to home, people constantly telling you what to do and what not to do, judging and mocking at you, even I feel a victim of this world. It’s like going from one prison to other.
“I hope you’d come out of your cage.” I mutter. I silently wish that I get to see her again at least once more.
And my wish is fulfilled. I do see her again. The next morning itself, in the front page of the newspaper. The headline says, “A runaway found dead on Platform 7 Quarters. Assumed to be a suicide. Shouted “Found my last station, at last.” in her last moments, the witness says.”