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The Bus Trip

By: Almira Grajo

Alone in the reclining seat of the fast-moving vehicle, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, I sat in silence. But the stillness was interrupted by the rain pouring hard outside.

I was staring blankly at the droplets forming on the window of the bus. Like a movie film, I saw the scene beside me changing and becoming hazy. The exhaustion that I felt before would not allow me to fall asleep. Even so, I tried to close my eyes so that I’ll wake up from this unacceptable “dream”. But it was a failure. In the middle of that idleness, I kept on asking myself, “Why am I here? What am I doing here? Why did I allow myself to be here?”

I then opened a letter as I was sitting comfortably on my seat. It was given to me by my friends before I left. As I finished the first paragraph, I stopped reading, unable to focus because of the tears in my eyes. After a few minutes, I lifted my head and gazed toward the numerous stars in the sky. And for a brief moment, I could hear the voices of my parents as they woke me up that day.

“Ate, it’s time for you to wake up. We are still going to attend Mass.”

The morning sun’s rays pierced through my eyes as I opened them that morning. I was still in the state of denial at the beginning of the day. I couldn’t accept the fact that it was the last day of my vacation. I barely spent a month in our home, yet, I felt like I did not have enough time to catch up with my family and friends.

As I lay consciously on my bed, I spent my time wishing that time would stand still or that classes would be suspended for a week. Resorting to somnolent detachment, I pulled up my blanket and closed my eyes again. But then again, as if fate was against me, my alarm clock went roaring endlessly. Irritated by its sound, I immediately pressed the off button and prepared for the day. After all, I had made plans for the day ahead.

I started my day by attending Mass with my family. During the sacrament, I could not help but think of my last mass with them before leaving. The next Sundays will not be the same. After going to church, we ate our breakfast at our most loved restaurant in town. While eating, we had endless talks and bonding moments so as to give me memories that I could cherish on my way. It was always like this on my last day. I can even call it as a tradition for us, to talk over food what have transpired my vacation and what to look forward in the coming days.

An hour has passed and we were bound to go home. Suddenly, my phone rang. It was my friends on the other line and they were asking for time for us to hang out before I left. Knowing how much I value my friends, my parents agreed to let me go. Even though it was midday, my friends and I went for a walk in the local park. Unmindful of the immense heat, we strolled around, ate our favourite street foods and shared stories that have been retold several times. We also took pictures, not out of vanity, but as a memorabilia of how we enjoyed my last vacation day. When our time together was about to end, one of my friends handed me a letter which was to be read after I left. Droplets of tears started to form in my eyes, but I forced myself not to cry in front to them. Otherwise, I will appear like I was tormented by them when I get home.
With the letter on my hand, we exchanged hugs and bade each other goodbye. When I arrived at home, I was welcomed with a surprise. My parents cooked an appetizing snack for me. Indeed, it was surprising because both my parents cooked for me like it was my last time to have a taste of the home-made meals. Happily, I had the indulgence to eat the food like it was the first and last of its kind.
All of a sudden, thoughts ran through my mind. In an hour, a bus was due to arrive at the station to take me away from home. In an hour, my life would change its course and for the nth time, I would be adjusting to a new surrounding. As my departure was getting near, nostalgia started to fill both my mind and heart. Although it was impossible, I still wished that time would bring me back to the beginning of that wonderful day. It was hard to imagine that I’ll be assuming an independent life in the city again.
Moments later, the bus arrived to fetch its passengers. My father and I immediately climbed inside and looked for my seat. When I was already sitting comfortably, my father smiled at me and turned his back away. The window beside me captured the picture of my family standing outside. For one last time, I gazed at the intricate looks on their faces. I waved at them and they waved back. Then the bus motioned forward. Within a matter of seconds, they disappeared from my peripheral vision.

Reality struck me when I heard the voice of the conductor calling out for our final stop. When I woke up, I saw that we already reached our destination. I hadn’t realized that I had been sleeping for an hour already, still clasping the fine paper of the letter.

I stepped off the bus and took a deep breath. The air smelled differently. I was almost suffocated with the smoke lingering in the air. I heard various vehicles beep and create different noises.

Indeed, I was already in Manila. Despite the polluted air, I saw the sun rising calmly in the horizon. Somehow, the scenery gave me a sense of hope and serenity in spite of the perplexity that this notorious city upholds.

It’s a brand new day.


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