SLEEPLESS IN A SHUTTLE (NOT A TYPICAL SHORT STORY)
I have not taken the bus for almost a year now. Time has been so scarce that I have no time at all to travel elsewhere unlike before. More so, my car has always been my preferred mode of transport except during Wednesdays when it is not allowed to ply the roads of Manila due to the Color-Coding Scheme.
As I was driving for work this morning, I tuned in to this radio program to listen to some commentaries and news update since this has been my daily routine. I have equipped my car with an expensive audio system only to find out later that I rather prefer tuning to AM for news than listening to music.
Anyway, as I was listening and both driving, there was this news aired giving warning to people to be aware of thieves victimizing people taking buses. This suddenly made me do some small flashbacks of the past which I usually do whenever I get caught up in heavy morning traffic.
Almost 10 years ago, I was coming home to the province after having to almost finish enrollment. I went to a bus stop along EDSA and Quezon Avenue since most provincial buses usually take a stop to get passengers there. It was almost nearing midnight and I was so late because either I had this fight with my girlfriend then or that we went out on a date after.
I was bringing with me a travel bag with all my clothes plus my watch, a huge Nokia 2110 phone, a gold ring from my father and some cash as I stood at the empty waiting area watching the ongoing construction of MRT along EDSA. I was singing some songs, watching vehicles passing by and I was totally clueless of what will happen next.
An old man in his late 30s suddenly went beside me and declared holdup. I thought that scene is only for movies so I was really shocked but nonetheless I was very much active and conscious. I talked it out with the man and I thought of getting some bills in my pocket instantly so he doesn’t get to notice my watch, my ring and my phone.
I took some amount and I handed it down leaving some coins falling on the road. He was holding this improvised fan knife which actually looks like a screw driver for me. As he bent down to pick some of the coins, I gathered enough force and hit him hard with my huge travelling bag. As he fell on his knee, I thought of running fearing he has a companion as a backup. Unfortunately, he got up a little attempting to stab me. I got out and ran towards the center of EDSA. I saw some construction workers so I felt secured that he won’t run after me anymore. I shouted… YES! I was smiling now as I shouted once again… SO LONG SUCKER!!! Hahaha.
I thought of heading back to my dorm at the state university where I am studying and abort my plans of going home at the province. I stood in a waiting shed securely with people around and paused to get a taxi ride. I was perspiring heavily. I was wondering then that whenever a taxi stops, the driver would look to me and would speed away. This happened for like 3 to 6 times and some people are looking at me in a weird manner as well until this old lady asked me what’s with my shirt. Hmmm.
I was feeling wet but nonetheless I feel fine. I looked at my shirt which seem to have been torn a little due to the struggle I had with the thief and I almost collapsed. I saw my red-stripped polo shirt wet with blood in the left side of my belly. I instantly paled and felt like losing consciousness because I was numbed, cold and almost blinded.
The lady took me a cab and instructed the driver to take me to the nearest hospital. I was on the road now. Afraid of blood and afraid of going inside the hospital, I instructed the driver to take me to the apartment of my friend. On the way, we passed by the dormitory of my girlfriend for some medicines and bandages.
The dormitory manager got alarmed when she noticed me wounded so he called up the police. Again, I am equally afraid of the cops since I fear of having my name in a report and my parents summoned. I do not want intrigues. I asked the driver that we shall leave immediately and head instead to my friend’s apartment.
My friend and I dressed the wound and put so much cotton and bandages to stop the bleeding. The next day, I went to school only to have the wound re-opened to bleeding once again because I was sharing this joke made out of the incident I had. I was the group’s stand-up comedian and I was laughing so hard that I bled.
Amidst my protest, my friends took me by force to the infirmary and had my stab wound checked, dressed and stitched. I was so noisy kidding around as my friends watch that doctor forgot to put pain reliever so I was being stitched with me feeling all the pain. It’s good that I have a strong mind control. I survived.
The police arrived and made a report about this though I tried avoiding it. As a result, the news reached the province and I was fetched by my family from the province with full attendance. Reaching home, I was taken again to the hospital only to be re-stitched and checked by a relative doctor. Ouch!
I took a break from school for 2 weeks as I was recuperating. Alongside, I got so many reprimands due to traveling late and by not disclosing the incident timely. For awhile, I was a headliner in the state university where I was studying. SMS was not that widely used then as I was using Islacom. I got mails instead.
2 weeks after, I found myself bound for Manila to finish my enlistment of subjects. I was restless. I finished early so I decided to go back to the province with my electric guitars. I was on the same spot but early at 3PM. Amidst the day light, I was really afraid. As I was about to board the bus, a man resembling the person who almost robbed me my life went near the passenger before me who is on the first step of the bus doorsteps.
Suddenly, the dubious man wittingly and quickly took the passenger’s wallet unnoticed by the poor victim and walked slowly. It was all in slow-motion. As a result, I reacted and alarmed people near me. I almost thought of throwing my two guitars to the man who is now slowly walking away. Hmp. If only my guitar’s hard cases were equipped with guns same as those in the movie, Desperado… I could have killed that thief.
Again, I was about to get the guy by myself when this old lady whispered to me not to do it. She seems to have seen the whole act. She warned me that the thief is with a companion acting as a lookout and I should rather not react to be safe. She said that what just happened is normal and is just a part of usual scenery in Manila. Hmp. I took her words and boarded the bus while the victim was talking with the driver and bus conductor.
The issue was settled with everyone going back to their seats and the bus set off for its 1 hour journey. I was shocked and from that day onwards, I kept praying whenever I boarded a public transport. I found myself awake and paranoid even on long trips. It’s good that the buses then get to let us watch movies as we travel.
Years after that incident, I got used to being awake for the entire travel duration whether by bus, car or plane. It’s not that I am paranoid but because I got used to it. There was even this one time that I missed a plane that I had to travel back 16 hours to Manila from a field work in Bicol alone. Hmp.
I took the bus from Tabaco, Albay and I was literally SLEEPLESS IN A SHUTTLE watching “SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE”. Hehehe.