1 am, on a relatively warm summer evening. Dusk was spent with friends, food and liquid courage. Once the night was over everyone split up and went their separate ways. Mine happened to be by train, alone, so naturally, my AirPods find themselves in my ears. Music starts flowing to make my journey more enjoyable than the sound of the train. It’s a Saturday at 1 am, the train station is busy, and so is the train. I have good timing. One minute after I enter the station, my train arrives.
Stepping onto the packed train. There is no space open to sitting, so I stand by the door. However, I lean against the side wall to prevent falling on any one of the multiple stops the train will endure. One stop later, a flood of people hit the door. As if there was any space on the train. Last to enter is a lady, a normal middle-aged lady. Passengers politely moved out of her way to make room for her. However, normal at a closer look came with a few more questions. The lady was wearing black hiking boots, that looked to be expensive, hiking pants that are orange in colour and too small for her, exposing the bottom of her ankles, on top, she is layered, multi-colour four layers. One of those layers is a rain jacket. What does she need a rain jacket for on a starry night? The final layer is a vintage-looking zip-up hoodie. I couldn’t see her face as she covered it with a face mask as soon as she stepped foot on the train. Her companion is a black bicycle with plastic bags where saddle bags would be as well as on the front. The bike looks to be in good shape and relatively expensive. Curious. So many statements of contradiction. Is she homeless, is she going on a hiking trail? It’s 1 am. I’m confused and intrigued. She stands with her companion and I am trying to figure her out but she pays no attention to me. She pulls out a magazine from one of the plastic bags. The magazine, was un-damaged, surprisingly by the way it was transported. Contains a sodoku puzzle which she is salivating at the mask to get done. She magically makes a pen appear from a plastic bag and starts completing the puzzle. As she writes I notice that her fingernails are dirty and unclipped, and her hands are dry. Hmm, I think. I look up towards her hair, hair is clean as if it were washed today. Fresh shine from the bottom downlights on the train, she has highlights too. Trying to disguise the grey I suppose. Her make-up is done around her eyes. Mascara wings for a night out. Why? Why would she have her hair and make-up done but not her hands? I am curious, is she homeless and just self-conscious about her looks? Perhaps she is in construction and that explains the wear and tear on her hands. Contrastingly, if she is earning money why does she carry seemingly her whole life in plastic bags on a bicycle? Too many questions for me at this time of night. How long is her train ride anyway? If she has time to do an entire sudoku puzzle. My eyes travel to her magazine. The puzzle is almost complete. I guess that answers that question I think to myself. I look closer at the puzzle, her handwriting is that of a 7-year-old child. More questions fewer answers. She still pays no attention to me or anyone around her. Just her, her bike and her puzzling appearance. I wish I could figure out what she does, should I ask her? I should. Wait this is my stop. I better get off. I step off the train and onto the platform and the train speeds off with all my questions. gone into the tunnel never to be answered again.
I wish all the best for her, the lady on a train.