My mental capacity was (and I think, still is) intact. I wasn't about to commit suicide. I’m not a pious person, but in my religion, suicide is a big no-no. Imagine how I felt when I saw people, including teenagers (or “abege” in Indonesian, short for “anak baru gedek”) in school uniforms sitting in the middle of the rail track!
I told her, if someone does that in any Malaysian railway station, not only the police would come. They’ll bring the ambulance too. Instead of ending up in the police cell, that person might ended up in a sanatorium for some psychiatric evaluation. Mutiara assured me that they weren’t suicidal. Everything was as normal as it should be. Those were just how things are.
A few minutes later, true to her words, those people on the track scrambled away when the train arrived. We boarded the non-air-conditioned coach. There were two bench-like seats lined against the two sides of the coach. We managed to get a seat. The doors remained open throughout the journey. There were passengers sitting at the doors, with their feet dangling outside, despite the sign on top of the door forbidding people doing so. There were people peddling snacks (and even vcds) in the coach. There were also people begging.
Above the noise, Mutiara explained to me that we were heading to Bogor train station (opposite direction of Jakarta). It was sort of the end of the line. From there, we would take a train to Jakarta - just to make sure we would get a seat. I told her that I used to take train to work too. But my town is at the end of the line. So, I had no problem in getting a seat. But I had problem in retaining the seat. I tend to give my seat to elderly people, pregnant ladies, and all sort of people. Due to this, I got tired of taking the train and changed my mode of commuting to express buses.
I think two stations later, we reached Bogor. We got off the train, onto the concrete platform. We had to buy the tickets to Jakarta from the counter at the other side of the track. Like the previous station, there were people on the track. I looked around to find overhead bridge to cross the track. None. When I saw Mutiara walking down the stairs toward the track, I realized that I need to walk across the track to get to the counter. I looked to my left and right a few times, then, with heart pounding, I tailed Mutiara across two railway tracks.
She bought the tickets to Jakarta and asked the ticket man which platform would the train be. It was the same platform we came from. And so, with the same anxiousness, I followed Mutiara, crossing the track. The same train we were on, was heading to Jakarta. We shouldn’t have gotten of the first train because by then, it was full.
Not wanting to stand in the train, Mutiara decided that we should wait for the next train. We crossed the track, again, and headed to a “Dunkin Donout” kiosk. I “traktir” (that’s Indonesian for ‘treating someone for a meal’) Mutiara for breakfast. I was about to finish my tuna croissant when the train arrived. Mutiara packed her muffin and we rushed across the track and into the train. Thanks to polite Indonesian men who move aside to make room for us, we managed to sit.
As I sat, I quietly thank God for giving me a strong heart, otherwise it would not be able to handle all the pounding so early in the morning. I was also glad that we had eaten our breakfast. At least I have a full stomach should we need to do more ‘suicidal attempts’.