There is a pair of bright brown eyes staring back at me. I hold the gaze for as long as I could before I realize the image is frozen solid on the screen. The DVD must have been bought off the sidewalk for the bargain price of fifty pesos. It is of course foolish of me to demand image quality, much less expect it.
The conductor pounds on the DVD player housed directly above the driver’s head, beneath the dilapidated television set bearing all over it the marks of stickers – probably of politicians campaigning for re-election – peeled off. Gray matter clings to the places they once held, until someone decided to run his nails over the outlines of each one, meticulously removing the beguiling faces from or for the sake of everyone’s viewing pleasure.
Slowly, the expressionless face of a young woman is revealed. It reminded me of espasol. Only her thin lips stood out, because they were painted in a rosy shade of red. Everything else about her, a whiter shade of pale, barely distinguishable from morning light.
The camera then pans out and then turns to the glass doors, where curtains are swaying because of a gentle breeze. Her lover appears, his face void of expression as well. He is staring at her, holding her captive by his gaze. Slowly, he stretches his arm forward, then opens his hand, beckoning her to come closer. His silver ring glistens in the sunlight.
Suddenly she is within reach, wordlessly standing in front of him. Her forefinger starts to trace the lines on his palm, perhaps to trace his fate, wondering of her place in it. A touch turns into a tight grip, and for the meantime they make the most out of proximity.
The woman sitting next to me smiles up at the screen lovingly, indulging in every bit of the romance, even if it’s not hers. I wonder about love stories and their survival in an age so cynical and so pessimistic such as ours. For the rest of the trip, the passengers are trapped in a dream-like love affair, forgetting about the economy, or poverty, or their own romances which left them like this, longing for the slightest display of the affection one has for another.
Outside, an ambulance speeds past and overtakes. The bus driver then switches gears and then starts to snake through EDSA as if having just contaminated urgency. A myriad of lights breathes life into the city, and Metro Manila comes alive just as the sky turns pitch black and the first stars take their places.
I envision my quiet room while the rest of the world gathered and travelled in packs. Solitude now seemed like such a foreign concept. Right now every seat in this bus is taken and those who are standing up are clutching the metal rod attached to the roof for dear life. Someone in the back has just opened a take-out bag from a fast food chain, and the smell of stale french fries wafted inside the vehicle. There is a persistent murmur coming from all directions, all voices blending and rising to a steady crescendo. All of a sudden, you are aware of a lover’s petty quarrel, the latest office gossip, acquaintances meeting by chance – all at the same time.
I am not alone anymore. I am with everyone else.
submitted for ENG 152 class last semester. Archiving because this blog reeks so much of teenage angst lately. :D