On the 3rd of July 2015 in Matsuyama anchorage, 24 miles off coast Namikata Japan when I took over a pirate watch from a colleague, thoughts and judgement all of a sudden were stretched out and enclosed my being.
It was a calm silent night and I was in full swing to love the stillness of the wind. I prepared fire and safety equipment, vents, winches and etc. Hours passed and my duty was nearly over thus I expected my Burmese reliever. Not anything is a common picture except a weakness overshadowing my body and my eyes were typically heavy.
“P’re, standby!” a sudden call to my cabin. “Okeyy…!” I replied but I apparently need some time to rest. Man, this job calls for endurance, strength of character and more of a patient attitude. Though I barely open my eyes, I joined other crews in our designated station until we arrived in port safe and successful.
In a few days we are finally going home but not until our relievers will arrive. When they reached, we swiftly handed over the duties and responsibilities, not so much of orientations especially to my fellow worker since he is far experienced than me.
A day after, we bid our good byes to the ones left, shook hands, bumped fists as the buzzer blasted extremely. It was a gloomy afternoon as would be the sky sought to shed tears. The three of us signed-off and drove away. As we stood outside the immigration control and looked upon the land covered with dark green plants, by chance I uttered “It looks like my place.” Oh, how I badly miss home.
“Really? So your place is silent and covered with green plants huh? I have only one tree near my house but only grow a little each year.” The chef replied. Then he started talking more about it even his home in Yangon until we checked-in a modest hotel after an hour of drive.
At 0930H, we took a bus and made through 5 stations. During this travel I witnessed how Japanese’ and their ways of respect. The driver’s assistant made a short head bow with his arms extended towards the door as we headed forwards. I nodded my head and said, “Sumimasen” as we got in. Unfortunately it took us almost four hours of travel and so I felt a pain in my butt.
We pulled over, and an average skinny person waves a small sign board soon as we arrived where another agent will take us to the airport. We ate a piece of bread and a beverage for lunch as we head inside. The agent who moves gracefully gestured a hand for us to come near him beside a ticketing booth. “He’s gay” a hasty whisper to my ear. Moments later tickets were finally at hand. We boarded the craft CX 707 and had our designated seats through the mid-section.
“Want something to eat, sir?” Sir? I honestly loved hearing that word particularly from a pretty flight attendant. It may be a little hilarious but quit sometimes since I saw a real woman.
After three hours we finally arrived in Hong Kong, where it was our intermediate stop after a change of another craft, we managed to have dimsum, ramen and drinks in a nearby kiosk. Our chef rushed his way via another airline so the two of us remained and boarded another CX 707 connecting to NAIA Terminal 3.
I seated nearby a porthole. The light on the starboard wing flashes as the plane ascends. It was almost dark yet I could see clouds and anything down it. It was good to have bird’s eye again, seeing those city lights from above offers an undefined relief and inner freedom.
More or less the stretch of this travel had been a trouble. At all times I’ve been sick, frequently at the lavatory coughing and sneezing. I was not well that I couldn’t even respond to my old man every time he tries conversing with me.
The supposed 45-minute flight has taken longer than we thought due to the bad weather. My colleague wore his headset so was I when suddenly the seat belt warning flashed followed by a whooping surge. In a moment, the gravity of air leads as if the turbulence will drop the plane. This happened for several minutes until the intensity finally ceased and permits us to have a smooth and safe journey.
It was past midnight and my eyes were weary. I didn’t notice that I robbed a nap and was awakened merely by an inflight passenger announcement. After a lengthy and dull flying I finally can hear the steering wheel on the ground. Yes, we’re home.
My colleague clutched his hand to mine as a sign of goodbye and separation of ways as we arrived. I gazed upon all corners of the airport in which I obviously see members of family, friends, husbands or wives swaying their hands and excitedly waiting for their beloved.
Nah, I turned my back as I pushed over my cart gnashing my teeth knowing that nobody’s going to pick me up. A split of seconds like this, you cannot deny a touch of envy and fairly wishes for one. I marched and left the airport riding a taxi, not having a bit of eagerness and of bitterness either.
I occupied a room at the 7th floor of a transient inn overlooking Manila Bay. Sure, it costs a penny, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Though I was restless, I still manage to go downstairs to buy something I could chew of or drink from a nearby 7-eleven. Then I suddenly noticed a young woman with her sleepy eyes, her hands partly covering her face. But I wonder why she’s keeping herself on her own so I thought may be because of the drizzling rain outside.
A man on his middle age walked towards her close enough to ask how she stayed up too late at night. I lean towards to listen as she answered the absurd question of the man. The guard on the other hand involves himself with the talk. The girl stood up, brushed her long dark hair and said she’s an intern in a neighboring hotel. I saw her face and damn, she’s beautiful and speaks well that’s why these men are pulling a stroke of luck to get a chance with her.
I bought a national newspaper and pretended reading so I can eavesdrop. But actually a question keeps popping on my head. Why all these girls I’m seeing recently seems to appear b-e-a-u-ti-ful? Oh crap! I’m trapped in this condition yet again. Definitely because I was out of the country for less than a year and usually men were with me in the field. I rushed back to my room, threw my weary body in bed and slept.
The vehicles’ horns and honks woke me up. The door was partly open at the balcony so I can clearly see people commuting by jeepneys and some means of transportation then I realized I am in no difference from them. We struggle for a living; rain or shine we have to break through this chaotic and dramatic life. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been truly living a rat cycle. I hardly work to earn a coin, but of no choice I have to spend a thousand.
“Di pilak, mapilpilak. Siping, matal-taliling.”
So I remembered this adage said by an old man decade ago and I was relieved, a little thought of happiness and contentment is worth more than a great pack of money. In the height of the storm “Egay” I’ve been seeing street children happily showering themselves by the continuous pouring off of rain. I shrugged as I reminded myself that when we were little we don’t have this much of a drama now. Naturally, as we get older, everything changes.
I decided to report in our agency. I hurried into a train half-running and half-walking avoiding myself from getting rained as much as I could. Everyone rushed in and out the station, just like ants swarming in a colony. I worked outside the country, travelled, and seen other places but here I am, still a commoner. Among those struggling Juans, I belong. With all these jazz and difficulties, still No better place like home.
About the Writer
Brownfox was raised in one of the towns of Benguet. Like any others, he’s been away from home in pursuit of wishes and dreams since secondary school. Confused about which course to track, he walked down towards an institution couple hours of drive from Baguio City. Finally he found his vessel. Now, he’s up and down, back and forth, just like the water by the sea he likes.