Friday, August 20, 2004

Life stories.

It is 9.15 pm, and a woman gets on the bus. She is on the heavy side, but manages to give off the impression of being imposing, yet unapologetically feminine.
"O, you sit there and you sit there," she says to her companions in her urbane accent.
For the first 15 minutes she is quiet. Then she spots an acquaintance getting on the bus and she calls out to him.
"Uy, long time no see ----!" she exclaims, half-rising from her seat in excitement.
"Oo nga eh," ---- replies, getting into some seats behind her. "Kumusta na?"
"Heto, okay naman," she answers. She shifts in her seat and tries to find a comfortable position.
"Ngayon ka lang uwi?"
"Oo nga eh, kasi nag overtime ako sa office," she answers. "Pero okay lang."
Silence for the next few minutes.
"Yung anak mo, kamusta naman?" asks ----.
"Ah, okay naman siya, grade four na siya," she replies with a smile.
"Babae ba tong anak mo?" ---- inquires.
"Oo, nag-iisa nga lang eh," she says with a laugh.
Silence again. The bus is old and rickety and has a faintly metallic smell to it.
The woman shifts in her seat once more.
---- mentions something inaudible, but the woman changes the topic.
"Alam mo bang hiwalay na kami ni Monchi?" she states matter-of-factly.
"Ah talaga?" ---- responds.
"Oo, nine years na nga kami hiwalay eh," she goes on, her tone neutral.
"Separated kami, pero ayaw niya akong bigyan ng divorce eh. Gusto niya magpa-US citizen muna ako," she continues, her voice hanging in the air.
---- 's "bakit naman?" response is fairly muted. The bus is creaky. The strains of a song, "ang halik mo, namimiss ko" is heard in the background.
"Ayaw niya talaga eh. Sa New York siya ngayon nagwo-work. Eh bago pa ako magiging citizen, kailangan five years muna ako tumira dun. Ano na ako, 40 na pag kinasal ako uli?" she says, with a hint of outrage and humor.
She is silent for a couple of minutes.
"Gusto mong malaman kung ba't kami naghiwalay? Dahil sa babae din!" she exclaims.
"May girlfriend ba siya ngayon?" inquires ----.
"Actually, oo. Nasa Pampanga. Uy, kinaibigan ko yun ha!" she skilfully parries. "Wala lang talaga sakin yun. Inadvisan ko rin. Sinasabihan ko 'Si Monchi, madaling magalit yan, so eto na lang gawin mo' etc," the woman shares.
The bus takes a sharp left turn, and enters into Roxas Boulevard.
The convesation stops for a minute.
"Uy, dapat magkita tayo uli ha," says ----. "Nagbago na ba number mo?"
"Oo naman, dapat lang," she replies, readying her things. "Ganun pa rin number ko."
The bus slows down; the traffic light is red.
"Sige ha, bababa na ako. Bye!" the woman says.
She walks down the aisle, steadily. She steps down into the night once more.