The Lost Men

Eyes averted, heads lowered, headphones in, the world out; the train carriage heaved under the weight of the prevalent silence as I stepped on it. I surveyed the whole space in a sweeping glance, picked a seat in a quiet corner and pulled out my book to lose myself in its pages when I heard him first.

His words were intangible, the kind that demands your use of eyes, as if seeing would somehow help make the words clearer.
“I’m a season ticket holder. Been to every game for the last eight years. We have a special sitting area reserved just for us too.” 

He was a big talker. In fact, had anyone else been bragging the way he was, you would be forgiven for assuming him to be a high-roller, or at least a passionate footy fan.
But sadly for him, or rather for us, he was talking to no one in particular. He was in his early twenties, of medium height and slightly on the chubbier side. He wore his blonde hair cropped short and was dressed in an Essendon* hoodie that was probably two sizes too large for his frame.
Holding a fan flag like a proud soldier marching into war, he was pacing up and down the aisle, entrusting everyone with an assortment of personal knowledge about his life.

Eventually, he sat in a vacant seat next to a Grandpa and his two grandkids. Seated opposite him was a young, good-looking woman dressed in a casual I’m-hot-and-I-don’t-even-care denim jacket and short skirt. The look on her face was somewhere between snobbish and genuinely tired, and although I would not wager my bank savings on it, I could swear I saw her whip her eyes off the guy’s face like sitting across him was the last thing she needed in the aftermath of a big night out in town.

The man kept up his monologue. Everyone on the train shared the old it’s-okay-we-just-have-to-put-up-with-him glances, and went back to their iPhones and iPods. 

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
A photo I took a while ago at the same station where I stepped on the train that day

But before long, something unusual pulled me out of my book; the man seemed to be engaged in a two-way conversation! I looked up, and to my surprise, one of the kids sitting with the Grandpa was asking him something. And as soon as the question was answered, she would follow it up with another one! Soon, the Grandpa too, although intermittently, was taking part in the conversation, and to my surprise, I noticed how quite a few people around the carriage had stopped and were now eavesdropping on their conversation; an unusual occurrence steered by a child’s imagination and a free soul.

I listened to them for a while and still smiling, eventually zoned out. A while passed, and soon the train was pulling up to my stop. I stood up to get off, but when I looked over at where they were seated, I realised that the Grandpa and the kids were gone, and the man was standing by one of the doors, once again engaged in his own monologue.
The train stopped, and I suddenly had an urge to say goodbye to the lost man. But instead, I stepped out the door and left him behind, with a carriage that had already gone back to their world of averted eyes and headphones, shutting out the world outside with him in it.

* Essendon is a famous footy(Australian football) club based in Melbourne


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