Abuzz

541

Abuzz

Elsa sat by the aisle without noticing who the person was in the window seat. All the preferred seats were occupied except for the back-seat in all the three compartments.

There is an unwritten rule on the trams in Gothenburg that the last seat should be left for the commuters with dogs. And, there is always a possibility someone with a dog can board at the next stop or exactly when the driver rings the departure-bell and doors shut, there will be a dog-commuter — banging.

Elsa stared blankly. Her mind was abuzz.

Tram 6 started to trundle from its first stop in Kortedala at Allhelgonakyrkan. It terminates at Varmfrontsgatan in Länsmansgården. It is almost like Circle Line in London but not in the underground. It almost takes a mini-round around Gothenburg but terminating at two different areas inhabited by disparate socio-economic milieus.

The commuters started to board at each stop for they were heading towards the city centre or further or from centre of the city to different directions to attend to their tasks or chores for the day.

Utterly impervious to her surroundings, Elsa sat faintly feeling the motion of the tram. Her mind was abuzz. She slept well. Started the day to the point of precision to every second as usual. But all those issues issued forth in her mind.

At Gamlestaden the commuter next to her by the window seat, got up, and motioned gently to indicate to her ‘I’ve to get down, please give way?’

Elsa stared blankly. Her mind was abuzz.

The commuter gently touched her to say ‘I’ve to get down.’ The tactile gesture made her aware of the present. She quickly apologised, and stood up to let him go. She has been seeing him now and then. The seeing never translated into elementary conversation with a fellow commuter though their starting point of journey has been in Kortedala.

The world came to see Kortedala when the high-rise buildings of social housing were built with the best amenities. The social engineers realized decades later what went missing in their planning: meeting points for human beings. Most of them ended up living with themselves as the nuclear families started to become more nuclear and nuclear and finally atomized to two or to an individual.

Without a trace of expression, Elsa let the commuter ‘go’. He edged out of her without nudging his limbs to her limbs, and she sat by the window.

Gamlestaden the old city of Gothenburg is changing. The old is becoming new. Skyscrapers are on their way to touch the sky. The old city receded as the tram surged ahead.

More commuters got in to the tram, and a commuter sat next to her but she did not notice who the person was.

Elsa stared blankly out of the window as the tram trundled faster towards Nordstan and Central Station. She started to notice people on the streets but her mind was abuzz and the tram rolled past the city centre towards Järntorget the Iron Square.

‘ … Interpersonal enmity and amity. Expectations and disappointments. Discord and concord. Cheerfulness and sorrow. Frivolities and solemnities. Pleasantness and hurtfulness. Mundanities and exceptionalities. …’

As the tram stopped at Prinsgatan, she noticed a hunched woman with her head almost kissing to the ground yet she craned her head and was talking animatedly with a lanky man: a spirit of conviviality.

A boy and a girl sat on the bench with their left hand and right hand clasped while their other hands touched their smartphone: being alive and dead to the present at the same time.

A group of five people apparently a family were hauling their luggage towards the tram stop possibly heading to another city or resort to escape from the relentless darkness of wintry months. In the group she noticed a girl. She reminded her when she was of her age and what she had wished for at that time.

The tram warily gathered speed towards her destination Olivedalsgatan. Elsa achieved what she had wished for in her life.

Yet.

‘ … Security and insecurity. Love lost and love found. Independence and dependence. …’ The sights calmed the abuzz mind. Her destination arrived. She got down at the tram stop and headed to her work place.

Elsa’s expressionless face started to wear an expression: alive to the sounds and sights as the abuzz mind abated.

The wintry air smelt different. She felt each inhalation and each exhalation kicking her, alive.  She thought, ‘Transcend.’

Elsa lifted her head in the direction of a bird flying towards the seaside. A gull, finally finding its destination after being lost, hooted in the air out of delight.

—Lucinda Palme