CityRail Adventures 9

Yesterday, as I blogged, I had to go into university to hand in some forms that I really shouldn’t have had to. Didn’t bother me though because it meant I would finish up the semester without any hassle. Of course, while our train system is a shambles and a joke (much like all other state-run things), it beats driving in. Our roads are just as bad, and I’m sure that if I drove in myself I’d get into some sort of road rage-induced fight. I hate driving in the city. So I resolved to ride the CityRail monster.

Now if you look back through my archives at my previous encounters with CityRail, you’ll see that they are bad experiences. And while this ride was just as bland, boring, and bothersome as any other trip, I do have a story to recount that does buck the trend. It’s actually a nice on, I think.

I had to go from East Hills to Redfern, and because CityRail don’t put any trains through the Sydenham/Redfern line in non-peak hour on the East Hills line, I had to get out at Wolli Creek and change to a Illawarra line train that was headed into the city. No fuss, because I’ve been doing this for years now. But every now-and-then either my train is running late coming up the East Hills line (that’s 99% of the time), or the one coming up the Illawarra line is running early (1% of the time), and they get to Wolli Creek at the same time and I have to run like a lunatic up two flights of stairs, and across the concourse, to leap through closing doors.

Well, it happened again, and luckily I made it. I must be getting used to it, because I managed to actually get my breath back quite quickly, whereas the first time I was out of breath for the rest of the day! Go exercise!

I sat down on the middle level (the area near to the doors, not up or down any of the stairs). When I got in, there was an elderly woman sitting in the ‘elderly/disabled’ seat, and up from her (and judging by the distance between them, they were not with each other) was a woman (presumably the mother) with a child in the pram. I sat down right up the end on the opposite bench-thing. twiddling my thumbs, listening to music and holding onto my forms.

As happens on the train, you just start looking around because, while the music is entertaining enough, sitting and staring gets boring. I looked out the windows, watched as people got on and off at the next station (with a middle-aged couple deciding to sit near to me). Eventually I was look at the people in my area, and I stopped to watch the mother and her child.

I think what caught my eye the first time is that when a passenger got on (another elderly woman), and wanted to sit in the middle section, the only seat available was opposite me, next to the mother and child. As the elderly woman made her way down, I noticed that the mother would have to move beach towel that was taking up part of this last seat. The women moved to sit down, and it was only at the last moment that this mother moved the towel. Not because of any evil notion of not wanting anyone to sit next to her, but because she was absolutely taken in with the safety and the condition of her child.

For the rest of the trip I saw that she didn’t take her eyes off him. She kept a reassuring hand on his chest as the child slept, rocking to sways of the train. Yesterday was a hot day, upwards of 30 degrees. The mother would occasionally feel the child’s forehead and then fan him with some paper if she thought he was getting too warm. The baby didn’t stir once, and the mother didn’t look like, for even a moment, that she was thinking about anything else other than her child.

It maybe lasted a whole of 10 minutes, but to me it was quite moving. Chalk it up as a weak moment, being strange, whatever you want to, but I stand by it. What I saw there was one of those moments that gives you a little bit of faith in people. Anyone who reads me or knows me will recognise that I’m not nearly an optimist, I’m narcissistic, supercilious, and often has a negative view of other people. But as I was watching the unconditional and innate care and love between this new mother and this new human being, I was able to, for just 10 minutes of so, actually think some very positive things.

It was a strange event. This woman will never know about it. No one else would have if I never wrote about it. But it was quite powerful. Ok, it might sound strange to people, and I’m sure that there are people I know who go out and are oblivious to events like that. Maybe because they think or live different. But to me, it was quite moving.

There was this innocence and pure nature to it. It was all in the look that this mother gave to her child. I might have seen it before, but this time I really noticed it. It showed that there was absolutely nothing else in the world now that this mother cared more for. You could see the concern and the worry, but the love and affection as well. And the simple hand on the child’s chest just encapsulated, I think, everything a mother should be. She should be there. She should keep you safe. She should be a reach away. There should be that link, whether physical or something else, between the two.

Afterwards, I kept on thinking about it, and started thinking about the sad fate of those mothers who will miss out on moments like for reasons beyond their control. I don’t want to drag other topics into this post, because I think it will cheapen the story. But explore this in your own time.

I had to get off at Redfern, so I took one last look at the two and stood at the door. All sorts of things were swilling around my head. I kept thinking about the whole thing for the rest of the day, eventually coming to the conclusion that I should share this story because I was privy to it, and it lifted me up. I wonder if it will lift anyone else up.

Thomas.

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