This is a part of the Yoshke is Evil series, in which I will narrate incidents in which I question my goodness or think I should have made better choices. This incident happened a few months ago and I’m still not over it.
I love taking the bus at night, especially when the roads are almost empty. That’s why one time, after a night of shopping and conversations over coffee with my friends at Trinoma, it was my default choice to take the bus.
I made my way out of the mall through the Mindanao Exit, walked along North Avenue, crossed the overpass to EDSA and waited for a bus. After two sticks of cigarettes, one finally stopped. I hopped in and chose a seat among completely vacant rows at the back of the bus.
In that part of the bus, there were just me and a couple — a man and a woman. They were seated opposite me. They seemed like they didn’t know each other as they were occupying the end seats and there was one seat between them. Seated closer to the aisle was a man. He was dirty and was carrying a big bulky black bag, which was on the floor. I even joked in my head and though that this was the type of man you would expect to just stand and declare a hold-up. I laughed secretly and scolded myself, “God, Yoshke, you’re being too judgmental. Stop it.”
Seated by the window was a woman, perhaps in her mid or late 20s. She was a bit pretty. I realized I was gay so I turned my gaze away from her, put my earphones on, and looked outside.
That’s why I love taking the bus — plenty of time to listen to music, think about my life, come up with concepts for my screenplays. A couple of songs had finished playing and I was still looking outside. When I saw the billboard-covered GMA-7 building, I looked around me and found that the two people sitting opposite me were so close to each other, they actually touched. The man had his left arm wrapped around the woman’s waist. The woman’s both hands were on the “back rest” of the seat in front of her. The big bulky black bag was now rested on the man’s lap but it was so long that it also covered the woman’s lap.
The first thing that came to my mind was, “Wow, I didn’t realize they were together. They so don’t deserve each other. She’s too pretty for him. That must be true love.”
I started stealing glances and I noticed the man kissing the woman’s shoulder and then neck. I thought, “PDA? At the bus? Really?” Only then that I noticed that there wasn’t any sweetness between them. And then I realized where the man’s other arm was — hidden under the bag. The woman showed no emotion. She didn’t look happy but she didn’t look afraid either. She was just looking ahead. She wasn’t looking at the man or anyone at all. I didn’t know what to make out of it. I remember thinking, Is she being mugged? Is she being harassed? Why doesn’t she look scared? Why won’t she give me a silent signal she’s being violated right there?
It felt wrong. It just felt wrong. I didn’t know what was going on. I decided to look away, look outside. But the window glass was showing me a pale reflection of the two. In the reflection, I saw the woman move a little but the man’s embrace became tighter. I was about to steal another glance when the man looked at me. I pretended I would just stand up and move to a seat closer to the front, to the door.
While I was walking away, I took another look at the woman. Our eyes locked. Still, I couldn’t see any emotion. But something was telling me she needed help. I sat just behind the driver, beside another stranger. I didn’t know what to do. Should I tell anyone? Should I tell the conductor? Will it make a difference? If I tell anyone, the man will easily identify me and he’s gonna know where I live, I mean come on, our building is just along EDSA.
And then it was my stop. Slowly, I stood up. I wanted to tell the conductor. I looked at the man and the woman at the back, both of them were looking at me. I looked at the conductor. The conductor gave me a look. His expression was weird. It was as if he was telling me he knew what was happening. It was like things were in slow-motion that time.
I hopped out of the bus and just stood there, shocked. I kept on mumbling to myself, “God, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything.”
I just froze there, not knowing what to do, that I wasn’t even able to get its plate number.