On a full moon

The TV at the bus has just started to air a Chinese film, and it featured the Japanese occupation of Shanghai as its setting. I started leafing through my copy of The Watcher, a short story collection of Italo Calvino, finding the makeshift marker: a sheaf of tissue from Seattle's Best, which I had inserted weeks before when I read, while waiting for a former orgmate from college, to pass the time.

Then a woman sat beside me and rummaged from her backpack a book, Wuthering Heights. She was dark, her hair wavy hiding the profile of her face. When the busboy asked her she said: (Brgy.) College, estudyante. Then she struck me as someone familiar, a classmate perhaps from one of my minor subjects in college, but it's a slim chance--maybe people thought they ought to know the person who's also heading to the same place.

Is the book a requirement from her summer classes? Maybe. At one point the busboy, while collecting payments, was pleading us to give the exact amount. When it was her turn, she quickly apologized for lacking a peso for the exact amount. The busboy joked about it: "I'll see to it that I'll ask it from you come Christmastime," laughing wholeheartedly. She had a purple purse with tiny elephant prints, a bag strapped on her shoulders, sitting on her lap. She continued to read the book in a frenzy long after I finished Calvino's Smog. She paused from time to time, maybe mulling over words, or feeling the nausea from reading in a bus. As the bus sped through Alabang the busboy turned off the lights: it's time to sleep, but she only held down the book, hands clinging on its pages. Though she could just as easily turn on the headlights (yes, a rarity even in provincial buses), she opted to close her eyes. I yawned, and from where I sat, the full moon shone.