Just a Talk

Friday afternoon, the usual end of the week office meeting. I took a bus. It was a seven-hour ride from my province. I put on my earphone and begun listening to the list of songs in my iPod.

After a few hours, the bus stopped and a middle-aged woman hopped in. She sat beside me. Not noticing the earphone, she begun a conversation. She asked me the place to where am going. I told her am going to report for work. The woman is heading south to visit her youngest daughter who is studying in the city. As she talked about her daughter, I can see the excitement on her face. She hasn't seen her daughter for a couple of months now. Suddenly, the bus conductor approached her. Handed her the bus ticket. She paid him her fare and went back to me to continue the conversation. We exchange stories until the woman got off the bus.

The bus had its second stop. And a man came in his military haircut. He was about my age. Since the seat beside me was vacant, he asked me if it was taken. He called me "madam" as a courtesy. I told him "no, there's no one sitting beside me." A minute later he started a conversation by merely introducing himself. As usual, calling me "madam". As we exchange talks, I came to learn that he was a man in uniform and according to him had an undercover assignment nearby. Without paying much attention to this stranger beside me, I was shocked when he started sharing a little information about his married life. His wife left him to work abroad a few months after their wedding. It was a hard time for him because his wife chose her career rather than staying with him and their four-month old daughter. He even told me how lonely he is. I thought, well, hell yeah! Another guy's story for a sympathy. A couple of hours later the man reached his destination. And before he got off the bus, he handed his calling card. At the back of my mind, I thought, he can't get over me, yeah! And I just noticed, suddenly I can't stop giggling.

The bus went through and finally I reached my destination. I got off the bus, grabbed a dinner near the bus station, and called a cab. I checked in the usual cheap hotel for the night.

Inside my room, I felt the urge of lighting a cigarette before calling it a night. I decided to smoke in the hotel's lobby. The woman in the front desk notice me and came to join. She asked for a lighter and lit her stick. "Yes, I smoke," she uttered, "to keep me awake the whole night and to overcome boredom, too". I agreed to her feelings, for some reasons I feel the same way sometimes. After a while she asked me if I am a regular customer. I said "yes". "Work?" She asked again. I answered "yeah". "It must be hard" she continued. "Yes, but am used to it," I said. "My job, too, is tough but I have to do this for my father's medication", the 24-year old woman confessed. For that short minute talk with her, I came to learn that she works in the hotel during the night. She also helps her mother in their restaurant during the day for the family's expenses and for her sick father's hospital bills.

As I put my weary eyes and tired body to rest, I thought of the few people I have met during that day. Each person have their own concerns and hardships in life. Including myself, of course. But despite of those, I can see that each of them is hanging tightly to their own rope. They don't stopped living and they don't give up despite of everything. Hardships in life make them stronger as they live their daily life.

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Joko Jun features Filipinos from around the world... musicians, writers, photographers, and other creative people.