When you exit Cape Town by train, the majestic view of the mountain quickly disappears, replaced within minutes by a sprawling industrial wasteland.
Fallow machines gape at you from the annals of mechanization, wrestling your nerves and sense of time as you fight to shuffle recent memories of the beauty of the city to the front of your mind’s eye.
Espilande Station. Ysterplaat Station. Bellville.
Grey warehouses and shipping containers stacked higher than pylons stare down at the ruler-wide rectangle of your window.
Moody monoliths bleaching the sky around them to a limp and livid rag, sinking whatever it was that was afloat and bobbing about in your heart.
The train gathers speed reluctantly, in uneven lurches, like a belching drunk. A cocktail of fear and vertigo swell up in your abdomen when you speed past Osterzee Station.
The four days spent gorging yourself on the wonders the mother of cities, wonders she willing gave, blur and fade the harder you try to zoom-in on details and deeds.
The man in a black cap in the seat in front of you can’t take it. He rolls down the thick metal window cover on the sorry scene of our departure.
He turns his head away from the non-view, leaning into a slipstream aroma of fried fish and baby formula, slap chips and sweat, gushing down the aisle between rows of turquoise pleather seats. A banquet of bodily emanations, betraying the pulse of patience and parting.