Fly and brakes

“And I’ll fly with you through the night

so you know I’m not letting go.

I’m not letting go.

My tears like rain fill up the sky.

Oh my love I’m not letting go, I won’t let you go.


Shed your heart and your breath and your pain and fly.”


- Fly, Jars of Clay




Moments after publishing the previous entry, that Fly song by Jars of Clay came on the iPod at around 9.23pm last night. Probably just two minutes after I groggily hauled my weary body up the bus, which was filled with strangers.


None of them was intimate though, except for the physical because I bumped twice onto the body of a woman standing next to me. She must have thought I either (a) conspired with the driver or (b) it was just my desperate (and contrived) bid to get some “action”. (I might have looked the part too with my belt straining under the weight of a gigantic pot belly, those unmistakable dark eye rings and that bit of unshaved facial hair).


As for me, I thought the driver was simply testing the brakes for fun and that those handle thingies were not designed for men who have no desire to etch themselves in someone else’s head as the much feared, ,much talked-about and much detested “Molester in the Bus” (or “MIB”).


In between trying to keep my body far away from the woman for fear of having my face (complete with the unshaved facial hair) plastered on the front cover of The New Paper (complete with a zany headline like “The New Paper MIB Face of the Year: Man, 34”), I was trying to read about a family’s search for the long-lost son of a woman who killed (or chopped) her husband (into pieces). It wasn’t really the best of stories to read after a terrible day at work, but curiosity got the better of me.


“Tragic”, was my immediate thought. Then, my mind wandered again, playing with thoughts about how the world is a tragic place, that everyone carries a tragic tale and the truths about that “I care, but I don’t care” phrase uttered by the pastor during last week’s sermon in relation to how involved he gets in another person’s problem when he counsels.


By that time, the bus had stopped at one of the more crowded stops and my attention was temporarily distracted by the vast spread of junk food sold at the pasar malam stalls.


At the end of the bus’ five-minute stop, discipline won the war of the bulge for me. As the bus pulled away from the stop, I gave the tapioca cakes, the Taiwan sausages, the Ramly burgers, etc, an imaginary wave (for a real wave would result in a vast change in classification of my persona in the mind of the woman who was still standing next to me).

Being totally irrational, I had to turn back to look as I got off the bus. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a long, icy stare by the woman who had the unwanted and probably vomit-inducing honour of coming into contact with my pot belly (albeit only sideways) not once, but twice.


I guess the night of 29 July 2008 will go down in history as the time my face found its way into the annals of someone else’s life as the quintessential MIB. I can imagine the rage on her husband or boyfriend’s face when she recounted her horrendous bus ride that night.


Maybe I should just write a letter to the forum pages offering some (not sure if it’s going to be constructive) feedback about how transport companies should really discourage bus drivers from playing with brakes.

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