The 9:11 AM, ladies special local train was running a little late. And as expected, it was fully packed. But Joan had already saved her seat. Soon after sitting down at the window (a privilege!), Joan took out her headphones and tried to concentrate on the book she was handed at a mall. They were people spreading the message of Christ, but it was a book on life and the lessons one needs to learn so it was something she would read. Anyhow Joan was the kind of person who could read anything, from boring news of the stock market, to violence in Syria, to gut-wrenching details of a rape and even tributes to the dead. A habit she developed when she was a kid, she still manages to read all the billboards on her way to work every day.
As she was about to open the book and start the first chapter, she heard a woman screaming. Not an uncommon sight in Mumbai trains. Yet this was something that got everyone’s attention. A woman walked in with a steel vessel which looked like it contained dried poop and a bag. She was dirty and in a crowded train like this, it was an advantage. People moved away and she found a whole bench for herself right opposite Joan. The woman, in her late 50s locked eyes with Joan and started to speak.
“All you people think I’m some dirty woman… poor woman… mad woman? But I’m not. I went to the best of schools and can speak better English than you all. Why are you showing off those clothes? That big phone. I had all of it. I had more than all of you combined. But it was taken away from me. My bastard of a husband.”
Joan looked away. These kind of incidents didn’t make her squirm. The city and the world drove men and women to insanity. It couldn’t be helped. The woman continued to speak.
“I didn’t have money but he ate all my food… and then spent my money on alcohol…”
Joan looked at the other ladies in the compartment to see them cringe and laugh at her. Joan, didn’t laugh, she didn’t feel sad, she just coolly looked out of the window to see her stop was next.
Calmly getting up, she made her way out but stopped midway and dropped an apple into the lady’s bag. The lady hadn’t even noticed and continued with her rant. Joan reached her destination she got off. She book marked her place in the book and paused to look at the title.
“You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see.”
Joan smirked, looked back at her mother in the train and said to herself, “Madness runs in the family”.