An empty seat
I rushed in and sat
The bus started moving
Every inch of my body – vibrated
Looked outside
From a rusty window pane
While the wind beat my face
It was six a.m.
And I was late
Hadn’t had breakfast
Couldn’t rather
Would have thrown it up
There were slum kids you see
On either side of the road
Uhm…
Doing – well…. You know what
The funniest though
Were the adults that sat beside them
With incessant encouragement
Or so I thought
The language you see
I don’t quite know
I am a long long way from home

Thankfully today
I have the seat to myself
I like the solitude
Gives me time to think
Or nod off a little
And sleep a wink
My joy is short lived
A woman …middle-aged
Makes herself comfortable
Next to me
And invades my space
Crossed her legs
Up on the seat
They are cracked and filled with mud
Ugly to see
Her lips are red
By chewing beetle
And she clears her throat constantly
I am gripped by fear
That she might
Cough up some phlegm
Onto my face
I am now rigid
Like a statue
Can’t lean on the rusty bus
Nor on the woman
What am I to do?
She leans over to the window
And I shrink back
Spits out the residue- SPLAT!
A trail of red spit
Is carried on the winds
Hits a cyclist
Smack on the face
The man is furious
And gives the bus chase
Screaming in filth (no doubt)
For us to stop
The middle aged woman grins
her chuckles don’t stop
I stare at her in disgust and disbelief
She cares not a hoot
And leaves her seat
I relax
A little too soon
A man asks for the window seat
And I give him room
He sits down
Looks rather clean
I think to myself
All said in vain
He cleans his snoot on the windowpane
I am too stunned for a moment
To even move
I shake myself
Enough is enough
I’m getting off this wretched bus!!

Sashikala Premawardhane

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