Study Melbourne partnered with Melbourne Writers Festival 2018 to host a storytelling competition for international students. ‘The train, and the self’ by My Hoa Tra Nguyen was the winning story in the English Language Training category.

The train, and the self

It is not hard to see. But, turns out you will see everything. The light, the passion, the unstoppable dem light flashing through the stops. Until it gets to the city. Where that is, the air will never stop floating.

I live in the city. It is the everyday case scenario that you walk out, you have to adapt yourself into the fast pace of footsteps, of running into mornings trams and of forgiving continuous “sorry” along with the touches of each other. I’d never got the chance to explore the areas far from the city, as it is the place I study and almost everything you can get access to this hub of madness.

It is in one cold night that I receive a mail from my intended university, saying they will open the following days for further information regarding my field of interest. I was enthusiastic. It is the time that I got out of the city, the everlasting streetlights to a more hopefully a quieter place and mysterious one. Yet, I am a caring person as I ended up going there sooner in one hour. I shouldn’t do so, giving the fact that my first long train was not as I anticipated – it was in the crowded hours and expectedly trains and trains and trains were packed with an unprecedented amount of people, who effortlessly sharing the same areas to breathe.

As soon as I arrived in Clayton, I took the bus to the university.

A Hungarian quote: “Run away with shame is useful, even if it’s a runaway, even if it’s a shame.”

And that was what I did when I noticed I took the wrong bus to the station. It is been 40 minutes. And according to google maps, it just takes you 20 mins to get to the station. As soon as I felt something wrong, I asked the driver. He said nonchalantly “Oh, you took the wrong bus. But I can't get you back at the bus stop, you just stay with me.”

The above statement is the worst thing you can say to a person like me. Because out of nowhere came the panic. Of fear. Of unknowing truths. Of darkness and of uncertainties.

I repeatedly say to myself “I will get off the next bus. I will. And I must.”

But then the bus just kept going with high speed without stopping. The engine was rinding up my ears stirring out the unstoppable pace of the car and mixing up my anxiety with something that they called idiocy. Because what I did was push the red button out of nowhere and drop myself to the ground. I collapsed. As the bus continued doing its natural job, grinding its engine towards the station. Which is where I need to be.

If it wasn't for my GPS on the phone, and the place I dropped myself was a 15-minute distance from the station, I wouldn’t get back. But as I ran to the station, as in that simple motion, my brain was going through all thing it would not approve of.

Of things,

Of things,

And things,

The darkness surrounded me, covered me up, eating me up, and at the same time feeding my anxiety. I cried on the way back to the station. Tears would flow

As if to question

Why did you do this

to your heart

to your body

to you?

I noticed.

On the train back home,

the reminiscence of the tears was long enough to cover up my face

Like an ugly scar

I rested my gaze. To the undying streams of city lights. It is far from expectation called my first experience using the train and the bus. But then, it yields to a more sophisticated matter. A self that I need to renovate. A self that I would personally encourage it to grow, to mend, to the road of adulthood.