Even before the train has fully stopped at the platform I move with the sea of women as we pour ourselves into the Ladies’ Car. I feel the squeeze of bodies and use my elbows to ward off suffocation or a fall onto the tracks. I clutch the overhead handle and we sway together as the train begins to move, the scenery begins to blur. I watch the lone men who pass through the cars selling cheap plastic earrings; the jeans-clad college students who languidly browse smart phones and chatter into earpieces; the women sitting comfortably on the ground, barefoot, confident.
We glide high above the black rivers of human excrement; an open carriage, no safety barrier, nothing between us and the air. We tense at the possibility of a fall to the Earth, into our own waste, our own resilient jungle foliage. Small boys tempt and tease the fates, still traveling with the women but daring the world to let them grow into men. A thin schoolboy in a crisp white shirt and loose, sweaty hair swings boldly between the car and everything beyond. Holding on with one hand he leans out into the wind, his bangs blown back from his forehead, his foot pointed like a dancer