Phantoms in Transit

Hello September, it’s you again.

It seems to me that once again I have lost track of time. If someone comes up to me and asks what month it is today, I would probably say December or March without thinking twice, or scream the year 2010 without doubting its validity.

My sinking soul could only hold so much of its consciousness before it finally starts to displace its attention to something more crucial than the fleeting motion of people and events, before it finally starts to lose all reverence to time.

The past four weeks were filled up to the brim with stories which I have no idea how to begin, with characters painted with the faces of people I have met and spent however brief the time it was.

When I try to remember what happened before August came to an end, all I could gather from memory was the sight of a skyscraper shooting straight to the clouds, or the sparkle of city lights glinting like little Christmas bells in the backdrop of an urban silhouette, or the steady pace of a bus where I calmly took a seat and waited for a new adventure to unravel and to swallow me whole—because I told myself I was brave and ready and willing to inhale new things, all at once. I was afraid, but at the same time, fearless.

I went there not knowing what to do, and in my lack of knowledge I gained a deeper perspective of the kind of world that is out there and the kind of people who occupies this god-forsaken place. But then again, what good is there in knowing things, names, people? Is not forgetfulness a redemption too, a personal kind of freedom?

I remembered my tired sleepy eyes. From the glass window of the bus where I slumped my fagged body, I watched as the bus gracefully drove its way across the district like an automated toy vehicle set out to move within the parameters of a determined track.

I remembered wanting to scream, wanting to grab the strangers inside the bus, wanting to ask them if they were tired and listless and happy too, wanting to ask them if they have found happiness among the clusters of buildings which surround them every day of their working lives.

In my yearning eyes they were downtrodden ghosts: ghosts with no will, no intention. There was a time when someone happened to make eye contact with me: a decent-looking guy who was heading in the same direction, probably around my age or perhaps a year or two older.

He snatched glances of me during the whole bus ride while I tried not to look more than once. Just as I was about to get off at my bus stop, I felt the heavy glance of his stare and all at once I felt the message, the soundless cry for help of a soul trapped inside the body of a machine-like human, the wailing warning that people like him have nothing left at all but a disintegrating mass of skins and bones and desperation.

And in my sleepy head I figured,

The adult world.

The mere thought of it sends shivers down my spine. Strange how something can be so familiar yet remain so foreign, so alienating, so inhumane.

Everything is calculated, measured, tapped to be transcribed into a language that is both automated and emotionless. Every gesture, every word, every outcome and production, is carefully extracted and translated into digits and numbers and every number is converted into cash cash cash.

The irrevocable hours of our numbered lives are traded mindlessly in exchange for some transitory security. The essential part of our beings are haggled down to a price that is not only less than what we’re worth but more so degrading and derogatory. And what is the point?

I tried not to fall asleep. God knows how much effort I had to exert to keep myself awake, to keep myself alive, in the midst of the bustling metropolis. I fixed my eyes intently upon the glass window of the bus and in the darkness I saw my own dizzying reflection.

Seeing myself in the window with street lights flashing upon me one after the other, seeing myself wearing that cheap crimson-colored shirt, seeing my bloodshot eyes, my pallid skin, my parched lips still with a hint of color from the abuse of lipstick, my withering bones, I could not help but mourn for the ghost in front of me, resembling my skin and my body.

You have a bad habit of slipping away from the lives of people you knew. You are like a phantom, always lurking around, in search of home.

In the bleakness of the hour, right before I get off my bus seat to take another wild ride home, I cracked the question to myself once again, “Dear life, what is the point?”

To my question I only heard the earthquake sound of rushing footsteps as my heartbreaking answer, intensified by the ear-splitting static of the rush hour, the blaring noise of cars and buses and trains speeding across the avenue, the wailing scream of a scrambling city.

Distracted I was at the commotion outside of me and disfigured by my own melancholy, nonetheless I fixed my eyes towards my destination and demanded my feet to trudge as fast as it ever could.

Never in my entire life have I wanted to run home.


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