I am a commuter. I spend my early mornings and my late nights on the move between 3 provinces. One hour journey when it’s late at night and 2-3 hours (crazy yes) in the morning. People ask me, all the time, about why I do this, whether or not it was tiring me, why I don’t just settle and reside near the campus, rent a room or something. Frankly, I reply, it is tiring, I’m worn out whenever I got home, but the journey, is the one that makes it all okay, if not better.
I see millions of people with millions of care. I see another college students carrying heavy textbooks and having trouble to get on the bus. I walk passed some high school students with supposed-to-be cool look, hanging out, smoking, ignoring the rising sun. I attend the closing and opening of the market, the freshest fruits and vegetables being stored and sold at night and what’s left of them being trampled, tossed, and turned by the steps of the hurrying commuters in the morning.
I met a middle-aged woman with heavy bags on the bus and nobody was bothered to give her a seat. On a day like that the bus usually stuck in the traffic for hours. She smiled at me and we ended up chatting. It was a normal conversation at first but there was this troublesome and anxious look on her face.
What was it?
It turned out that her son, who study library science in the university, was hit by a car. He was unconscious till that morning, and after that all she could say was how unfortunate his kid was, fate and all. (Anyway, I met her again, recently, on my way home, with his son, bandaged on the back of his head, apparently have recovered.)
I sat beside my childhood friend’s father who looked very tired on the bus. A gleam appeared when I asked about how his daughter was doing in college. His happiness is evident, that that friend of mine, according to him, was doing real good.
I met another woman and her little children moving around. She kind of told me of how she and her kids plan to live in pulogadung but she can’t afford the bus fare to get there.
Then, I met a sidewalk siomay peddler, who wanted me to call him as dede. He traveled here to make a living for his family back in the village. He was really chatty, he told me so many things about him and asked a lot as well. His siomay is uh, not that good and he kept on arguing on how computer science won’t make the world a better place.
Such an irritating man but at least, he kept me occupied whilst waiting for the bus.
Anyways, I saw my kindergarten friend, my crush in the elementary school, my junior high school friends, my English course classmate, and the most good looking guy I’ve ever seen in my whole life but I act as if I didn’t. I was too afraid that I would get awkward and all and start to embarrass everyone. Well that’s just me.
I was in a bus with an exhibitionist, a man who kept on repeating where he was going, and lot more people with unfathomable behaviorals. I met a friend of friend on the bus and we ended up gossiping about our surprisingly-so-many mutual friends. And he’s quite a good company in that tedious journey, considering how much he knew about others’ businesses, in an entertaining way.
I saw three 7-8-years-old-children that opened my eyes. They carried sacks full of garbage. Their clothes are ripped. They passed me chuckling, Picking up some bottles on the sidewalk. It was really late at night, don’t they have to go to school tomorrow? Don’t they have homework to do? Don’t they go to school at all? It hit me like an asteroid crash.
I don’t have to work to get a twelve year of quality education at a formal institution. I don’t have to break a sweat to be able to pay for my tuition to study in one of the best universities in the country.
That moment, all I really wanted was to grab their hands and ask them to come home with me then, enroll them to a school. But I didn’t. All I did was covering my wet face with my veil. I recalled how everyone in the family have faith in me. I recalled the journey I had that day, late to come to the class and when in it, never really paid any attention. I’ve had a much better option but somehow wasted all these chances generously given. I was fully woken up.
I may have a better life but may not be a better person than they are.
At the end of the day, there are billions of people in the world, I may not know them all. Commuting is tiring yet fascinating and a great learning space. There’s another different stories to be heard and witnessed each day. Surely, the world is sharing something with me here. I’m always happy to learn, be thankful and encouraged.