Something desperate is happening. Just as I approach the train to return home, avoiding a small puddle of coffee someone had carelessly let fall, three police dash past me. There is the female one struggling to keep up, an erratic elbow that bumps into my side, and then she is running down the stairs holding her bag tightly to that bouncing petit waist of hers. Come on let's go, before it is too late.
My train won't leave for another ten minutes, so I think I will check out what this excitement is all about.
Down into the underground corridor; turn to the right and the second staircase to the right reveals some extra activity of moving blue uniforms. People getting out of the train that is ready to depart, the elderly looking slightly confused, some faces grumpy and other chuckling nervously as if it is no big deal really.
The train is a double-decker and it has been emptied, all except for the upper compartment at the very front.
During scenes like this even the biggest strangers become awkwardly intimate. I ask the young woman next to me what is happening. She says that she isn't quite sure, but thinks some man is having a heart-attack. Yes, that's it. A heart-attack he's having.
That's when I can see it more clearly, up there right in front of me. How did I end up getting so close without realizing it? As if I am attracted here to this very spot because I am a chosen witness to new and mysterious events. These are the unpleasant facts of life that cause my eyes to avert downwards. The head of hair is bobbing up and down, pausing for a few seconds, bobbing up and down again. Looking out the window to the left is some woman looking very distraught. She could be the daughter, a friend, maybe even the wife, a secret lover, his lifetime mentor. No one knows now and most will never know ever.
The echoes of the siren are taking forever to get closer and closer, until the ambulance crew arrives. Somewhere over there and then they jump into the train, the extra weight causing the metal wheels to creak and the whole carriage to roll slightly back and forth.
The carriage and the people within it are oscillating and then no more.
The paramedics take over and the bobbing continues. Though now it is a male head of hair jerking and waving somewhat fluidly but not quite.
You see, death comes and it goes, even in train stations where daily thousands if not millions of bodies crisscross their paths. We try to prevent it and bring the dying back to life, but it does not always succeed. Please don't go, not right now.
First one then the other person starts shaking their head until all hope begins to wane. I feel uncomfortable standing there as the uninvited guest. I am not supposed to be witnessing this time to go. Not yet.
So I turn. So I slide away. The motion I make is most likely quite close to a similar soul who at that very moment is also sliding away.
When I settle in my seat, the train gives an abrupt start. The metal wheels creak and there is a light oscillation of the carriage back and forth. I am tempted to strain my neck and look back. But I wait and wait.
In the distance, through the receding haze getting thicker and thicker as the distance increases, I see it. Amsterdam Central Station is a beautifully massive, arching and translucent structure fitting for those lucky enough to be at its very heart when it is one's time to go.