Friday, September 01, 2006

Secret Heroine

The shrunken cheeks of my bottom shifting uncomfortably across the steel pipes that constituted the bus stop bench, I leafed over yet another page of my budget novel. The bus was extraordinarily tardy this morning, and the patch of morning sun escaping past the tree branches behind my back had started to force the bitter odor of scorched hair out of my already damaged tresses.

Bus No.5 finally pulled over, the oblong chunk of hot metal coming to a halt with the stifled screeching of old tyres and loose defecation of pore-clogging soot. I stepped onto the corrugated steel steps, and my eyes met with another pair, of intense dark brown. I was halfway digging into my wallet for coins when I had to look up again to properly notice the navy blue headscarf, the tidied eyebrows, the thin lips painted a violent shade of red.

The driver was a woman.

I know it shouldn't have been a big deal, but the last time I had witnessed a she-person behind the wheel of a bus was a certain panicky Ms. Bullock operating one at fifty miles an hour.

My face brightened in the bus driver's view, although her face remained ignorant. Or apathetic, I was unable to discern. I plunked a few coins into the fare box and bumbled my way around the crowd to get a good grip between two other anonymous hands on a pole, my feet embracing the floor of a bus that was driven by a woman.

During the two-minute ride from the Bangsar LRT Station to my office at Midvalley City, I would usually catch an insignificant nap or speed-read the last two pages of the chapter I'm currently on. This time, I just stood quietly between the re-furnished seats of gaudy orange felt, letting my ears sponge up the surrounding spill of multi-lingual banter in a bus that was driven by a woman.

The ride was no less smoother, nor faster or slower, neither did wet armpits stamp their brand of ink any less hesitantly on my blouse sleeves. But the situation that would have been a shrug to many was a smile of serendipity to the 'tard. I didn't personally know her, but I wanted to give her a huge hug. For facing the traffic jams, the carbon monoxide, the unforgiving weather, the unruly passengers, and taking it all in like a man.

As the bus parked itself by the Midvalley bus stand and the crowd started to compress themselves against the main exit in the centre of the vehicle, I pushed myself against the general direction of Malaysian kiasu-ness to reach the front of the bus.

"T'ima kah-say, kak", I told the driver with a shy smile.

She gave the faintest hint of a smirk and nodded. I stepped off the front of the bus in my heels like a toddler just learning to walk and I wandered off to my office with a memory of her sturdiness, hoping that it wouldn't be the last time our eyes would meet; hoping that by that next time, I won't provoke her too much when I try and tell her in Malay how much she rocks.


Blogger mob1900 said...

The daily heroes & heroines goes unappreciated everyday but today they met a grateful damsel which would probably made their day seems worthwhile.

and btw:
"Depa ROKKK! Kak!"

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Audz said...

the woman bus drivers here are scary:(

7:39 AM  
Blogger disco-very said...

thanks for the tip!

with the crap they have to put up with on a daily basis, it's easy to empathize...

5:22 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

RESTECPAH! Lady cabbies I've met driving NGV-fuelled taxis but buses, nay.

2:00 PM  

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