There is God by the bus window

I was by the bus window, and out of nowhere, I felt this profound melancholy.

Thoughts about the suffering of others sank in my mind. I felt this space between people and those they love. The busyness that seem to separate all of us in most hours of our waking lives. Then, out of the blue, vividly, I saw myself inside my mother’s womb – an infant again.

Slowly, I was flushed out of her womb and I traversed across a vast ocean. I had this profound urge to float on and enter other wombs. I had this urge to stay on the side of the other infant and just whisper to him or her’ I love you’, or ‘it will be okay out there’, and ‘no matter what happens, remember this moment here’.

Such epiphany gave me so much warmth. I cried as the speed blurred the landscape and wiped my cheeks dry. I felt this sense of “yugen” – that the universe made so much sense.  Love was all over my entire being.

The bus window is a nearby sea for me. It has always led me to new lands and rich inner landscapes of the human spirit.

Back in 2006 until 2008, I had to commute everyday to work. The total travel time (to and fro) was three-four  hours. For hundreds of days, I had the chance to meet random busmates and seatmates.

I sometimes did sit alone, too…to detach.

I sometimes sat alone because nobody wanted to sit next to me.

I always gazed outside.

There is God by the bus window. In those times when I felt so tired about the distance and the lack of proper sleep, I met them:

It was around 6 AM and I sat sleepy. I was about to nap on the seat when someone got in and sat next to me. She was a Mother. I can’t recall how it began but at some point, she made me cry. She told me stories about her daughter who was about to get executed in the Middle East. She gave me a piece of menthol candy when we were passing by Banate.  In the following evenings, I sat next to a Father who had been commuting for more than fifteen years to work from Sara to Iloilo City (100+ kilometers) everyday. He showed me photos of his children and his grandchildren as well. He advised me to never give up on my family.

There is God by the bus window.

A teenage boy, around fourteen placed his guitar near my knee. As the bus drove past deep puddles, his guitar dropped on my lap. As he apologized, we shared a lingering eye contact.

“Ano mga napanagtukar mo, mig?”  (What kind of music do you play?)

“Mga dumaan nga kanta, Nang.” (Old songs)

“Baw kanami. Ti diin kaw makadto subong?” (That’s wonderful. So, where are you heading?)

“Sa Carles. Pero wala ko gani kabalo kung paano ko matultulan akon nga mga paryente.” (To Carles. But I really don’t know how to find my relatives there.)

His family left him when he was just nine. He did not know the exact reason. He then worked as a houseboy for years. His employers sent him to school until he graduated from secondary level. Then, one day, out of desperation to look for his parents and siblings, he decided to join the peryahan people. He thought that it was a great way to travel around the country. The peryahan reached Calumpang one day. He showed me his medals, wrapped in a colored plastic bag. He showed me the scars on his skin and even the wounds in his heart. When the bus stopped in Banate, I wrote down the name of our eatery. I told him that in case he won’t find his relatives in Carles, he could find his way back to Barotac Viejo and look for me. He could even work as a dishwasher at our eatery, and perhaps my aunts could help him go to a local college.

A teenage boy with a guitar never looked for me.

There is God by the bus window. A woman got a call from her cellular phone and she cried her tears out fearlessly. I was so proud of her.

There is God by the bus window – I wrote a song about farmers and scarecrows.

By the bus window, I flipped pages of “Siddhartha”. I pressed my thumb on my tongue and proceed to the next page. In 2011, I had a phase of anxiety and panic disorder. The psychiatrist told me that I needed anti-depressants. In that particular bus ride, I reflected on my life and it dawned on me that more than the chemical imbalance in my brain, I had forgotten the most beautiful place in my heart – a place for my very self.

the hour was inevitable when he would again find himself in sunshine or in moonlight, in shadow or in rain, and was again Self and Siddhartha, again felt the torment of the onerous life cycle.” 

There is God by the bus window. I smell the salt farms and bakeries. I see the rooftops of houses – of the rich and the rich in laughter. I hear the voices of the public markets. I feel the texture of the wide sugarcane fields and the abandoned houses.

There is a God by the bus window. The corn vendor reached out for my hand to give me some grilled corn. Our calloused fingers touched.

“Salamat kaayo Nong ha.” (Thank you very much)

“Halong ka guid day permi.” (You take care always)

There was something in his smile. There was something in his eyes, and in his calloused fingers.

There is God by the bus window. A woman my age napped on my shoulder.

We are not afraid to touch. We are not afraid to tell stories. We are not afraid to care.

There is God by the bus window.

The rural breeze received my wishes and the entire rice fields swayed gracefully like waves.

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