That’s the number of movies I’ve watched throughout my existence. A spectator of reel life, I’ve noticed that whether it is romantic, action, fantasy, or a music video, there is always a scene wherein a life-altering situation happens during a train ride—men with guns chasing each other on top of a train coach; a cowboy tied to a railroad track; identical suitcases switched during transfers; or a moment with a total stranger.
That’s the many travelers that flock the KL Central station everyday and I am just one of them, waiting for the ride that’ll take us to our chosen destination. But unlike the movies, my ride won’t have that heart-racing train chasing scene; there won’t be terrorists that will rain bullets in every coach; and no trolley lady selling me Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.
Well, that’s what I thought while waiting at the platform.
It started with a sound—you were clearing your throat the way a maestro commands a symphony orchestra. “Excuse me,” you said in a slightly heavy accent. I turned around and saw you for the first time. You were donning a collared moss green shirt and khaki pants. You asked me if the train was coming on time and said something in your vernacular language that just left me puzzled. But that wasn’t what truly stopped me… as you worked your way into the conversation, I thought quietly how tall and fascinatingly handsome you were with those eyeglasses and soft tousled hair of yours.
What I thought would be a standard question and answer conversation extended into something engaging—two paths converging through an exchange of names; exchange of experiences; exchange of laughter, and exchange of ideas. You were born with an inquisitive mind paired with a funny chuckle ,and with you I felt there was this warm sense of complacency. I felt that heat creep up over my face and as much as I wanted to stay calm and stop stumbling over my words, I just couldn’t hide my enjoyment. “Damn that boyish charm of his!” I thought.
The sun was sinking down to rest as the train chugged out the miles. It was supposed to be a dreadful long two-hour train ride but turned into a quick two-hour conversation punctuated with bites of Subway sandwiches which you kindly shared with me. I consumed what I could yet I was hoping that no food got stuck between my teeth.
I bounced my eyes your way every so often to check if you—this cool yet pragmatic stranger—were showing genuine interest in things I was talking about. And it appeared you did! It seemed that the conversation between us flowed effortlessly. Every affirmative response I gave, you were so overly agreeable.
Is this ‘chemistry,’ as they say? The spark that cinema magic weaves? Doubt it; we must just be on the same wavelength.
As the conversation became more interesting, the time for my departure was drawing nearer. Why did I make it home so quickly?
And just the way the story started, the sound of the air whistle signaled my stop. You stood up to accompany me towards the door. You told me you had a great time. You smiled at me and bid good-bye as I was about to get off the train. I smiled too, for it was serendipitous. I walked slowly, absorbing what had just happened.
There’s a difference between wanting and having. And for a moment, I wanted you.
Still, I let you pass by, just like the gust of wind that ruffled my hair when the train sped away to its next destination.