I step onto the platform reluctantly this morning, heavy arms dragging a heavy suitcase, heavy feet dragging a heavy sleepless head, dragging a heavy heart into the sludge of the morning. A mixture of smoke, sweat, grime, dust.
Industrialization rolls off the gritty wheels of a rickety train car and onto dangerously uneven tracks. It hides in the folds of the women's cheap dresses, rhinestone-studded scratchy faux-chiffon material of clashing bright colors, grating on unwashed bodies. They believe themselves to be beautiful. Ribbons fray on tacky, plastic shoes. They parade around in them, tossing greasy, scraggly hair, speaking in dialects, voices coarse and loud. They know nothing of subtlety, humility. They know nothing of the grace that their ancestors once held.
Rolling mountains turn into concrete blocks, rice paddies into smokestacks. I could be watching a thousand different movies through the window, pieced together into one bizarre surrealist film. And somewhere in the space between the stars and the tops of skyscrapers, civilization is lost.
Eighteen grueling hours on a dirty train remind me of these things, the vastness of a land I call my own, the diversity of the people, the struggles of the people, their blissful unawareness of their deplorable conditions,
how misplaced I am in the midst of it all.
It is with a certain sense of helplessness that I step back onto territory that is so familiar and yet so painfully foreign. I have, once again, left the sun and the sky and the ones I love 18 hours behind me. And as I stuff myself into crowds of strange people and into a strange car, I feel as I imagine these filthy skyscrapers would,
suffocated in the smog of a city that does not yet have enough space for me.