Hundreds of pairs of eyes follow me:
Barefoot women nursing babies stare.
Packs of men with long mustaches and tight button-up shirts stare.
Old women stare from underneath yellow, blue, and red saris, their eyes squinted and bleary.
Khaki-clad railway officials stare, hands on walkie-talkies.
Young girls stare with bright, excited eyes, not looking away when I look back.
The boy who sells me a bottle of water stares as I offer him the money, and then stares as I put the change away.
Children stare and point, laughing behind their hands, tugging on their parent’s arms so that they too, can stare.
A legless beggar pulls himself up to me and stares, stares, stares, holding his cupped palms out for money.
Packs of people on the stationary train across the tracks stare through barred windows, children pressing their faces to the bars and calling out “Hello!”
The tarot reader stares from a distance, and then approaches me and asks me if I’d like my cards read. I say no.
A woman with mean eyes stares incessantly, never looking away, never softening.
Even the half-witted stare, their eyes clearing for a moment as I pass.
Hours later, once the belated train has finally arrived, I collapse into an empty, air-conditioned compartment, and sigh in relief. As the train pulls out of the station, I look out the window. People stream past.
I see dirty faced beggar children dragging their feet along the platform, packs of slick-haired young men in tight jeans, impatient mothers pulling their children back from the tracks.
I heave another sigh of relief, so glad to be out of the limelight.
Now it’s my turn to stare.