Ryan took the bus back with me from the Flyer, and as he got off at La Salle, I waved him off (a little too enthusiastically, then again, we had a fantastic time!), wondering who’d sit beside me. We were both joking earlier that some weirdo could take his place in the bus.
“Maybe Tree-trunk lady (another story for another day) will sit beside you!” he said.
So it was with relief that a normal-looking lady came to sit beside me. She was in office garb, and if I have to hazard a guess, probably in the creative industry. I continued reading from my Google Reader.
And then I heard it. Over the din of techno coming from the guy sitting in front of me with the lousy Apple earphones, over the chatter of Tamil and Malayalam coming from behind me, over the rustling of Mustafa Centre plastic bags and the sound of the bus engine, I heard her cry. A guttural kind of cry, the kind that comes from deep inside of you, the kind where you really really sob, the kind you cannot stop. You choke when you try.
The kind that breaks the hearts of those who hear. The broken-hearted kind.
She tried to hide her face in her bag, shove her earphones in her ear, but it was obvious. The chatter didn’t stop, but even the foreign workers nearest to us looked at her sympathetically.
I rummaged my bag for a packet of tissue. Fished one out, patted her right shoulder and passed it to her. She accepted without a word, then started dabbing her eyes and blowing her nose right away. I pretended to read my RSS feed, to diffuse the awkwardness of the moment. Of noticing someone cry, and trying to reach out to her with a packet of tissue, as if telling her ‘I hear you, I’m so sorry I hear you, I hope you feel better, here’s some tissue’.
I’ve cried like that before. When I got dumped for no apparent reason. When my mum was hospitalised for TIA. When I found out my ex-boyfriend betrayed me by cheating on me with several other girls. When I got rejected by the teaching college.
Before she got off, she turned to me and thanked me. Take care, I said.
Whatever it was that made her cry, I pray she overcomes. Because this too shall pass.