It was supposed to be like any other journey home. Four of us were on the left side of the bus. Ann and Lyn were seated in front of me and Mary. Paul was seated opposite me on the right side of the bus, beside the window. On his front was Joy and Marie. It was raining outside, and traffic was making our trip very slow. The girls in front were busy with their conversation. Ken was listening to some music on his mobile phone, and so was Mary who was staring only at the window . I think the only conversation we had was when she told me the reason why she wanted to transfer seats. And as casually as it had started, I naturally ended up sitting again by myself. It seemed that nothing else would happen that night. Joy was the first to depart from the bus. A few meters ahead (and a lot more minutes spent waiting), and Marie left the bus as well. Someone sat down beside me, and it seemed to me that it was only a matter of time before I bid the others farewell and get down from the bus.
The next chain of events are somewhat hazy to me, and there was some time before I could believe that they really happened.
I somehow remember that it started with me being confused. Paul was on the right side of the bus. I was on the left. And yet, I began to wonder why he was already moving to the left side. A transfer of seats, perhaps? I wasn’t entirely sure. But that time, I was already beginning to doubt the sequence of events. The guy who sat beside me stood up as well. I was then surprised to see that around 3-5 guys we’re standing on my right, as if they were converging on Paul. Time seemed to slow down, but I could not figure out what was happening then. I noticed my bag out on the aisle, and I remember that I had time to pick it up and put it near my seat.
And then I heard Paul whimper, “Uuy cellphone ko..!”
Without thinking, I grabbed the man who happened to be in front of me. I think he was the man whose hand was coming out of Paul’s bag. I just acted on instinct, and I grabbed him as tightly as I could. He reacted violently of course, and he told me to let him go. I was silent that time, and I wonder why. All I remember is that the bus door opened, and the man was suddenly trying to bolt free. The only thing going on my mind that time was that I wasn’t going to let this man run just like that. I chased after him, and as he tried to step outside the door, I grabbed him and we both fell down on the street below.
That was all that I could remember. They said that I passed out on the street. Ann said that my breathing was uneven, as if I was dead tired. The next thing that I could recall was that we were outside a park of some kind. I could hear an angry high-pitched voice in front of me, I’m sure it was Ann. I was trying to see where the others were. One of them was missing, and I wasn’t sure if it was Mary or Lyn who was gone. Whoever left did come back a few minutes after, carrying a water bottle.
I could not remember what happened during those few minutes before I passed out on the cold. I just remember being very tired. I think I was on auto-pilot that night, because I remember mumbling that I was okay and I was also giving the thumbs up sign, as if to convince whoever was asking that I was indeed okay. I remember being groggy, and feeling that my head was going to crack open. I also vomited, for I was really nauseous that night.
Ann was telling me to wake up, and someone was saying that I should be brought to the hospital. Groggy as I was, I still had the strength to firmly say no. I didn’t want anyone from my family to worry about what happened to me. Besides, I didn’t trust hospitals that much.
We went to the police station, and I recall going to the restroom there. I was again feeling uneasy, and I had to vomit. Nothing much changed after that, their restroom still looked bad to me. I went back, and I remember my companions were having this conversation with a policeman.
“Opo, may pulis kaming kasama dun sa bus”
“Pero wala s’yang ginawa!”
“Ay gago yung pulis na yun..”
I remember that it was the policeman who said that last line. It seems there was nothing else left for us to do at the police station, because we went outside after Paul filed a report at the front desk. Mary was shouting something like “Buti pa yung mga..” but I couldn’t hear the rest. I just remember being worried that she was picking a fight with someone and that I was in no condition to assist her if things should go south. I guess I was glad that the bus incident was over with none of them getting hurt. I just wished that no harm would come to them.
We rode a taxi, and my companions left me by the same junction where I usually leave them every night. They were to ride another bus, while I was to sit at the back of the taxi until I got home. I was like a drunk passenger that time, but I still had the presence of mind to observe that the driver was almost going in circles. I directed him to just take the main road. I’m actually amazed I even made it home.
I still can’t figure out what happened right after we fell from the bus. It’s been bothering me that I have no idea what happened during those few minutes before I went down cold. I have a bruising in my eye, but I have no idea how it got there. I can imagine the possible causes, but none of them seem to be actually true. I’m just glad that it’s over. It comes as no surprise that I’m already hearing funny stories involving my eye, or how I got the bruises. I just go on auto-pilot every time: I smile, and I give them a thumbs up sign. I could be irritated the whole time, but my head would only hurt more. I’ll just wait for the weekend, and then I’ll lie down and sleep the headache away.
Even if I don’t remember everything that transpired that night, I’m just happy that everyone else was safe. I realized that I haven’t given a lot of thought to my actions that night, and if the people I care about got hurt because of my impulsiveness, then I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.
Outside the rain begins
And it may never end
-Boz Scaggs, “We’re All Alone”