The 6.13 Ladies’ Special

Susmita Bhattacharya

The 6:13 Ladies’ Special creates a phenomenon of biblical origins on the suburban train stations of Mumbai: the parting of the Red Sea. As soon as the announcement crackles over the noise and clamour of commuters waiting to return home, there are two distinctly opposite reactions to it. An audible grunt of impatience from the men, who have to step back, grudging the minutes lost in the rush back home. And a sigh of relief from the women, who triumphantly step up to the front. The Ladies Special glides in, and with a cacophony of screams and shouts to match no other, a surge of women sweep into the train. This is the daily commute on the suburban local trains for most people living and working in Mumbai. 


Table of Contents

Foreword – Michael Rosen v 

Parts – Philip Gross

From the Roof Top – Simone Davy 2 

The Colour of the Night – Virginia Baily 14 

Crying Under a Bush – Giselle Leeb 16 

The Wagtails of Imberhorne – Annie Freud 21 

Duty of Care – Mary Read 22 

Ophelia on the Ward – Anna Kisby 27 

Frog’s Hollow – Ariella Van Luyn 28 

Ladywood 1977 – Frank Dullaghan 38 

The 6.13 Ladies’ Special – Susmita Bhattacharya 39 

Carer – Jacky Tarleton 44 

Buying the House in Canal Park Estates – William Merrill Decker 45 

The Cut – Sally Flint 51 

How I Fixed the Foxes – Alexander Knights 52 

The Outskirts – Andy Brown 66 

Grimaldi – Erinna Mettler 69 

The Cellar – Krishan Coupland 75 

Carnival – Tom Garrod 76 

Afterwards: Three Poems after Klee – Anthony Wilson 85 

The World in Passing – Lauren Hayhurst 89 

The Zobole Suite – Tony Curtis 95 

Heights – Richard Smyth 99 

Thistledown on Reydon Marshes, Cricket on the Head, Aube – Peter Carpenter 112 

Contributors 115