Riding the bus has given me quite a lot of insight into everyday human stories. What seems like such a mundane daily activity can turn into a live movie set on wheels of sorts-but only if you pay attention to the tiny details.
Yesterday I sat behind a young South Asian couple. They could have been in their late teens. With a thick and curly mop of hair and jacket zipped up all the way, the guy looked like the antagonist character from the movie Slum Dog Millionaire. Because I sat directly behind the girl, I couldn’t see her face but I could make out her backside body language. She had black, shampoo-commercial hair, with reddish caramel highlites and a white clip loosely holding her shiny tresses together in a half ponytail. And even though I couldn’t see her front side, I was silently confirmed to myself: “yes, I’m sure she’s pretty.”
“Yo, yo, yo. Ima bee there bruv.” The guy was now speaking into his cell phone. His hard core cockney threw me off. I guess he wasn’t fresh off the boat after all. He then looked towards the girl and just then, his hard eyes melted. They were soft and focused. They were beseeching her. He gave her a slight smile, the kind whose sole purpose is to make amends and bring peace. His shoulders slumped forward towards her and his hands were draped loosely over her upper arms. He whispered gently into her ear.
She kept looking forward, rigid and unconvinced.
I found myself desperately wishing that she could turn her face towards him. Maybe just one look at his tender gaze would be enough to make her un-angry and happy once again.
Still, she did not budge. I sighed softly under my breath.
At the next stop, the guy stood up to leave. He smiled desperately at her despite her obvious silent declaration of a cold war. Stepping gently over her knees, he walked off and then stopped at the end of the aisle and shot back one last attempt of a friendly face. Unfortunately it didn’t have any visible effect on her so he stepped off the bus, taking my sympathetic heartbreak along with him.
Once the guy was gone, the girl moved to the window seat and leaned her head heavily against the glass pane. She looked out, her reflection showing wisps of hair framing her big, brown, longing eyes.
At that point, I wondered to myself about the things left unsaid in relationships. Is it better to keep quiet and play it safe? Or is it better to speak your truth at the risk of having your thoughts and feelings exposed? All the relationship experts say that vulnerability is the key to successful relationships, but how many of us are really willing to do that? At the height of heartbreak warfare, it seems that handing over your thoughts to your partner will only serve to strengthen his/her artillery, right? Or maybe not. Speaking your mind: Is it the ultimate peace broker or the ultimate war instigator?
I may not be a psychic but I’ve had enough experience in love to tell me that the pretty girl was second guessing the moves that she made earlier. Her look screamed “I should have said something.” She missed him. She took out her phone, looked into it, and put it back into her bag. She looked out the window again and started to chew her nails. She never looked anywhere else for the rest of the ride-just out the window and into space. The girl was lost in her thoughts and deeply immersed in the messy business of love.