The Bus Ride, Home (Short Story)
Squeezing dangerously up the crowded ‘190’ bus had become an early morning routine for Adam Koh.
On good days, he would twist and turn in ways such that his arms would not brush itself against any lady's breast in a vaguely indecent manner (oh how he remembers that fateful day with the voluptuous office girl).
On bad days, he would twist and turn in ways that the guy beside would not be able touch him in a vaguely indecent manner (oh how he hopes to forget the day that should never ever be mentioned).
The bus takes about 49 minutes and 22 seconds to arrive at Outram Park Mrt Station, and it is 8.03am in the morning along the Pan Island Expressway.
49 minutes and 15 seconds to go.
Adam tried not to move an inch and found himself caught in a position prime to take on the role of a keen observer. It was as if the meditative yoga stance that he had been forced to adopt had lifted his soul above his body, giving him a bird's eye view of the passengers.
At the corner, two young girls on their way to their University spoke audibly about their discontent. One of them sounded really pretty and had a sweet voice.
“Thank God we managed to get a seat. Very soon, we’ll have to sit on the top of the bus!”
“No, no, very soon, the buses can sit on the people and the people will carry the buses in the name of providing more low-skilled jobs to boost our economy. Our gahmen is prone to such brainless things you know.”
The Secondary school boy seated just in front of Adam coughed loudly. Adam turned to face him, and so did the other 89 passengers.
The boy coughed loudly again, this time producing a more phlegmy tone that inspired a few more ‘tsks’ and ‘erhs’ from the other passengers.
Adam frowned, but the absorbed boy kept his attention on his smart phone (He was watching running man online). The boy gave yet another booming cough and mixed it with a tinge of laughter this time, oblivious to the distress he was causing. It was still phlegmy. Sprinkles of saliva escaped his mouth.
The business-attired gentleman seated just beside the boy took out his iPad and inched his body towards the window. He launched his Twitter app.
[Youngsters have no manners these days. Please, COVER your mouth. #firstworldproblems]
32minutes and 21seconds to go.
After about 5 stops later…6 actually… including the instance where the bus almost stopped because a fat man had pressed the stop bell with his belly by accident. Adam could tell that the man was fat as he squeezed himself across Adam’s back to alight the bus later. Adam was so fascinated with the man's belly that he wondered if they should consider making bells for bellies. He also wondered if that was the reason why a belly was called a bell-y in the first place.
Anyway… after about 5.5 stops later, an old lady in her 60s boarded the bus with a few bags of groceries in her hands. She trudged up the entrance, supporting her weight on the bus railing with each step.
The two University girls were still ranting to each other. Both the girls seemed to have acquired the skill of listening while talking at the same time, so they were both listening and talking to each other at that very moment (Only a few people are capable of that).
The old lady passed them, and the girls were talking (and listening) about the moronic Member-of-Parliament that had fallen deaf to the needs of the people (This particular Member-of-Parliament was not capable of listening and talking at the same time).
The secondary school boy continued to laugh hysterically at his smart phone, but appeared to have managed to make his phlegm disappear (Adam did not notice where he had hidden the phlegm). He too, was oblivious to the old lady but also, to the other 87 passengers around him as well.
The gentleman was now stalking his friends’ friends on Facebook, and his friends’ friends just so happened to be girls. Adjusting the ring on his fourth finger, the gentleman fixed his gaze on the profile pictures of his friends’ friends. You see, he had just argued with his wife earlier at home, and was trying to distract himself from the exasperation – that’s what friends’ friends are for, especially the ones of the opposite gender.
12minutes and 56seconds left.
The two girls alighted.
The schoolboy alighted after the girls, but forgot to tap his EZ-Link card. The old lady took his seat after, and called out for Adam to take the seat next to her. Adam took on her offer and thanked her.
The gentleman missed his stop, but alighted at the very next one. The old lady alighted with him.
5minutes and 6seconds left.
Now that Adam wasn’t in his yoga stance anymore, he took a deep breath and managed to convince his soul back to his body.
1 minute and 23 seconds left.
Adam pressed the bell, and for a second wondered if a belly bell was ever going to happen.
Adam extended his walking stick.
Adam stood up, balancing himself on the chair handle. He checked for his EZ-Link card that he had slung in a lanyard around his neck.
Adam tapped his card.
The bus stops.
Adam alights, and taps his way to the Singapore General Hospital with his walking stick, the same place that he has been volunteering at for the past 2 years.
This was a good day. No screaming voluptuous ladies, and no weird cupping around his crotch by any person.
In fact, he praised God that he was blind.
There are those who are too distracted by their anger. Some turn to social media and proclaim themselves as victims. Those plugged into their mobile devices are too apathetic to notice anything. Soon, everyone else is blind too.
I wrote this story because I've found myself in the three separate situations. I've been distracted by my anger, doused myself in self-pity, and have even chosen to ignore what's happening in our nation cos that singing dog on YouTube was more interesting. I wrote this story to remind myself of what it means to be human.
6.9mil people may or may not fill our shores, but the fact remains that there will be the ones that have no seat and are in need of one. May we never be blind to those around us, especially on our bus rides, home.
Please share this, cos I want my nation to be a better place. I love my country.