On The Bus

By Nhi

To my daughter,

I am sitting on the last seat in the right corner of the bus to our old house. I chose to hop on this giant monster, blended in the group of depressing people devoting their lives to smartphones and picked this heated jerky seat next to the window because I would need to write a letter to you with the little privacy I managed on this public but tiny and sometimes suffocating space.

I love you.

The bus is full. Everybody touches everybody but nobody talks to nobody. I am leaning my head against the opaque glass, the outside of which is filled with mud that made its way here thanks to the roaring beat of energy the bus uses to crawl across New York City streets on rainy days. I am only less than a centimeter away from this thin wet earth but hundreds of kilometers away from a lively breath. Gently and suddenly, I am hitting my head against the window, as if I could exert any emotional forces on this lifeless object to wake it up, wake me up, wake life up. Nobody is paying attention to me. Suppose they generously glanced at this middle-aged woman, I would crease into a friendly smile. If the girl sitting next to me turned left, I would tell her, “Sorry”. “It’s alright,” she would answer. And that is how I am imagining a conversation should start.

I love you.

Photo Credit: https://citizen-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/images/2011/12/9l-san-bruno-muni-bus/original/Muni10_Henry_Web.jpg

Talking is an effective way to penetrate life. Not too much rambling of banal platitudes, empty promises, fake sympathy, forced compliments, meaningless stories. Just short, fleeting exchanges of words as a feeble attempt to validate our brief, infinitesimal, physical existence and deep, memorable conversations that we humans can lean on to break or thicken walls of icy loneliness that never cease to arrest us from moments we are born.

The girl is still young, like your age. She wears a grey, ragged coat that is too huge for her body and a pair of jeans that have turned threadbare after occasions of friction with time. Her shoulder-length, curly, jet-black hair covers most of her small face, which absorbs itself into a pallid complexion. Her sunken eyes, which hide behind round glasses, are dreamy and even lifeless. Pale, dry lips add little energy to the human face picture. One hand tainted with black dirt is let loose on her lap. Fine wrinkles make her fingers bear a miserable look signaling a self-deprecating personality. Her other hand is holding an unfinished bottle of Coke, which she occasionally brings up to take a sip from. I am looking at her. She isn’t noticing. I wish she were. I would ask her how her day is and smile at her, so that she knows there is someone wanting to pump an energetic current of emotions into her heart. The heart of a human being turns dry because it pours out too much, too soon and receives nothing back.

I love you.

I am tearing my eyes away from her and scanning other people. What on earth. It is such a depressing, melancholy, regretful scene of humanity. Everyone looks dead. Nobody feels the need to smile, because apparently there is no one here to impress. Humans come back to who they really are. Not even a tinge of energy lurks in this crowd. Outside, the sun is shining. Inside, we are oblivious. Suddenly, I wish they can do some miracles on the bus system, so that anytime a passenger gets on this vehicle, that person would feel uplifted, happy because they realize how they are so close to other people. They don’t need to talk. They just need to smile. And after one session, they get recharged to deal with whatever horrors of life awaiting them.

I love you.

So much.

I wonder if you have the same thoughts as me when you are on the bus everyday to commute to college.

Do you love me?

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8 thoughts on “On The Bus

  1. Very well done. You have the readers wondering about what exactly is going on, then they become immersed as they imagine themselves on the bus, looking through the narrator’s eyes, trying to understand….

    Liked by 1 person

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