Of Drenched Papers in Highways


photo by Madeleen Saguid/THE FLAME

I SAT behind the bus driver and admired the sun’s daily rites of hibernation; its rays peeked through the gray clouds and tall buildings in Manila. For something obedient to the laws of order, the sun refused to pass by. 

The water and my skin met as I smelled the scent of petrichor—an omen of the waiting serenity in my apartment’s lower heat index than my room’s usual scorching sensation on my skin. It reminded me of my hometown, which is 133 miles away from Manila. I could not help but compare the two places where I collected the fragments of my personality I now brought to different places.

In the province, I sat inside the tricycle and watched the contact of the water to the wheels—nonchalant to the specks of mud that got to my uniform because I had a lot of spare at home. 

In Manila, my dignity as a commuter was exhausted in keeping my appearance clean, waiting for a jeepney at five in the afternoon to ride home. In the city, I preferred to remain all night in the shed rather than take a heavy traffic road. It was always a journey that drained my purse and energy in the crowded seat of the jeepney. 

On every road I passed, a poem was engraved on paper or my palm. I stared at the commuters’ disassociating faces instead of the time. I discerned which stanza they fit in to remember their existence, though clueless about their names. 

I arrived at my place 30 minutes later and used my drenched 20 peso bill to pay for the ride. I bid my goodbye and gratitude to the driver for being my companion for the day. He was unaware that he took me to my second home where I grew up. 

It was a day of umbrellas in the air, slippery pedestrian lanes, and urgency for every vehicle to reach its destination. I concluded my day with a sonnet I wrote on the grocery receipt in my pocket.

The assemblage of words I wrote on the highways immortalized those experiences I could never revisit. F

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