This was first published in the print edition of Manushi journal, Issue March-April 1979.
THE blackness of night was flushed with an orange permeation, and then the roaring, hissing train thrust its body into Bombay Central Station. The ubiquitous female face painted on the compartment exterior, hair slickly combed into a bun, plastic half-smile under plastic eyes, shook, trembled, and was still.
Women surged forward into the “Ladies”, elbowing one another, protesting and laughing. The seats had all been taken and M stumbled into the centre aisle, stretching to reach for an iron handle just as the train shuddered and jerked out of the station. A young woman edged her way into position opposite M and they smiled at each other wryly. The black, dust-encrusted fan above, directed churned October air at them. M took a pamphlet from her thaili and began to read.