Day after day after day, we brush pass countless existences—
and we still think all that matters is ours.

Art by John Carl Aujero

Through the fogged glass window before me, I mused among the bodies that come and go, like a flock of sheep, mapping the ways of the black asphalt that glistened green, red, and filled with mud.

Behind me, a clerk lasers the barcode on the bag of chips. I watch as he struggles to make the machine beep, taunted by the line that slowly extends to the far corner of the store. The chimes at the entrance, a huge glass door, now greased by hand prints, clinked, as a stout man with a long beard and a bandanna entered.

He has drawn behind him the damp air outside, partly smelling of rain and of sweat and of spit, and partly of the noxious burnt gasoline from cars. “Never again!” threatened the bold, black, all capitals print on the man’s shirt, wet with rain and sweat. It was cold here, before the bearded, round man cackled a half-cough, before some 10 to 20 people barged in all at once, before I sat by the window and mused, before I struck my strawberry milk with a straw.

A lady, in the same shirt as the stout man, came slowly into my view, pacing, back and forth and crying. She then sat by the pavement outside, on the gutter that was a podium to one hundred feet. Through her white shirt, the straps of her undergarments peek. A man stops in front of her, perhaps asking what is her issue. And all I saw was her gesticulating, drawing objects in the thick air, pointing, pointing, here and there, and the layout of her undergarments’ straps. For some reason, the man does the same.

Sluggishly, the traffic starts to cut through the people in white shirts who have long started to dissipate like smoke. Jeepneys, cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles, with their blaring horns and blinding headlights, awash the streets filled with cigarette butts and paper cups that were all once glued to latex mouths.

I glanced on my watch and it’s half past eight, now, the road is dark. I wonder when these people will take off their white shirts with menacing prints. I wonder if they would wear it still after tonight. How many more times?

A thousand percussions start to resound—gradual, and then all at once. The raindrops against the big glass window look like a myriad versions of the universe, as if little planets, all lost—and it is I who found them.

I shake the carton of my strawberry milk: it’s more than halfway empty, and I’m less than halfway home.


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