Upper Bunk by Biman Roy
The girl is asleep. Almost diagonally and high up from where I am sitting. Her long legs slightly out of the edge of the bunk. Her body rocks a little as the carriage moves. Outside, the vast body of land, water, and plantations whiz past backwards. Not too many people are around. Some are reading, some dozing off. A gray and olive backpack is tucked between her head and the polished panel of the coach. The girl is asleep, peaceful in subdued light. We are rushing—maybe not to the same place but in the same direction, her in the upper bunk and me, looking out through the window. They say that our brains make two identical copies of the same memory event simultaneously. One stays in the hippocampus (I learnt that word in my Biology lessons and coupled it to hypocrite and hippopotamus for easy recall) and the other goes to the vault of the cortex. What a clever and cautious arrangement. That means the girl, sleeping up across, relaxed and trusting, rocking gently as the train moves forward parting the surrounding ocean of air, is also moving with me in two locations in my brain, cortex and hippocampus: one is here now, the other for any distant future. I still will have her in my memory vault, dressed in pink and green, strands of hair fluttering above her face, facing me, a total stranger. If I get off at the next station or further up and before she wakes up and opens her eyes, I won’t exist.
Biman Roy has been writing poetry for past three decades and has been published in various literary journals in US, UK, Canada and India.
photo by Tim Foster @timberfoster