Training Days

1.

A lady with rainbow-colored hair. I swear,

There were prisms trapped in her strands

Perhaps she was a

unicorn.

 

2.

A schoolgirl standing in the center of the car

Reading a book in one hand,

While grasping the handrail with the other

In an expert commuter’s stance

Ever so nonchalant.

The scene was begging to be

photographed

But I couldn’t bring myself

To invade her privacy

Instead, I simply clicked the shutter in my head

Then zoomed in to read what was written on the spine:

“Beloved.”

 

3.

We push and shove,

Sardines in a can

Or, all slightly rank in the heat of mid-afternoon,

Pickles sloshing around in a jar.

The train lurches,

Slamming us into each other.

We smile sheepishly,

As we pull apart,

Regaining our balance

and breathing space.

The doors slide open

At the busiest junction

Welcoming a new crush

Of sardines,

Pickles,

Neanderthals

“It’s survival of the fittest!” I hear someone shout.

Death by suffocation

Between the most curious of body parts

What’s the use of safety handrails

When dignity and

Personal space

fly out the window.

 

4.

Decked out in an immaculately cut

Vintage-print frock

This stylish lady

Who must be someone’s grandmother

Put the rest of us to shame.

Elegance lives!

I couldn’t help but smile.

 

5.

On a day

When my feet felt

Deader than dead

I prayed for an empty seat on the train.

Silly, I know

Seeing as it was rush hour, and all,

But I dared to hope, anyway.

Two stops later,

I felt a tap on my shoulder

A woman pointed to her freshly-vacated seat,

As she moved past me toward the exit

I looked around to see if anyone else wanted the space

But open palms gestured, go ahead

I sank onto the plastic gratefully

Amazed yet again at how even the smallest of prayers

Are answered.

 

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Field Trip

Image

“Woooo,” cried the kids on the MRT,

thrusting their hands in the air

as if on a carnival ride

 

I can’t help but smile.

Looking down the length of the women’s car

A sea of straight, shiny, shampoo commercial-worthy hair

Stockinged feet, thrust into slippers

Plastic bags holding precious footwear

I want to ask each girl

Where are you headed?

 

In the crush of people

I unfurl my invisible wings

Flap, flap, then

wrap them around me like a shield

Too many friends pick-pocketed

I wield my umbrella like a weapon

Just you try to snatch my bag

 

I alight at Ayala Station

And walk down the road that will take me to

My old neighborhood

 

The trees wave, hello, hello

The bougainvilleas blush

But when I reach the meeting place

Somehow I feel incongruous

In a sea of effortless chic

Country club cool

Beads of sweat betray me

Rivulets rain on my dress

What good is my umbrella?

 

Ah, here she is.

Stepping into my best friend’s BMW

Worlds collide

Suddenly, I want to go

Woooo

Thrusting my hands in the air

As if on a carnival ride.