I've kept this experience to myself. Maybe I have shared it to some close friends. I remember sharing it to Fadhlur during one of my rehearsals and he said he was inspired by it and used it for some pitching. And then a few weeks ago, I shared it to the Wan Belantara cast members and Eli said, "I would watch this movie." So maybe I can share it here because there were responses in my IG poll that people want to read short stories.
So this happened in the year 1997 and lasted for a year plus.
Back then, I was studying in a school in Tampines. There was no bus service 969 then, so I had to take the train from Yishun to City Hall and changed to the eastbound train and alighted at Bedok where then I took bus service 69 to school.
Everyday, my classes started at 9am and so I always leave home and board the train at the same time everyday.
I think it is pretty common for many commuters, if you notice, that when you board the train at the same timing everyday, you will see the same people everytime. So it is the same for me. I will always see the same people at the same time. If I didn't see them, it means that I was either late or early.
So every morning when I was on my way to school, there will always be this one girl who boarded the train at Ang Mo Kio. Not small girl la.. she was about the same age as me. I was 17 that year. We will then be in the same train all the way to City Hall, board the eastbound train to Bedok, board the same bus number 69 to school and only then we will part ways. I will turn left to School of IT and Applied Science while she would walk straight to School of Business. That was pretty much it. I only saw her during the commute. I don't remember seeing her in school at all.
So this went on for 1.5 years. Until when I was in the middle part of Year 2.
Same thing everyday. Same person. Same girl boards at Ang Mo Kio. All the way to school. It was the same that it just felt routine. We never smiled to each other. We never acknowledged each other. We just know that we are in the same train and heading towards the same direction.
So one day 1.5 years later, like as per normal, we board the southbound train to City Hall. Upon reaching City Hall, we transferred to the eastbound train along with many others on the platform. The teenagers at that time will always board the last cabin so automatically we would be at the first cabin heading to Bedok. I cannot remember who sat first. There were a lot of people in the cabin but there were also a few seats. I only remember that by the time we were at Lavender, we were seating beside each other. That was the closest I've been physically to her, but still we were just commuters and minding our own business.
Somehow... just somehow... as the train reached Kallang, everyone in the cabin alighted. Everyone. There were still people in other cabins but the cabin we were in was empty. Of my 1.5 years commuting to school, this was the first time it happened.
So it was just me and her somewhere in the middle of an empty cabin, sitting beside each other.
Different people would have different reaction. Mine was... awkward. What am I suppose to do? Should I say hi? Would that be creepy? Should I move away to sit on another seat? Will that be offensive? I really didn't know what to do. We have seen each other everyday for the past year and this was the first time we were sitting beside each other. In an MRT cabin, in Kallang, heading towards Bedok, at 8:15am.
Well, I just kept quiet. I really didn't know what to do.
The train moved on. To Aljunied, no one boarded. To Paya Lebar, no one boarded. It was the longest ride between the 3 stations ever. To Eunos, one auntie boarded and sat across us. She had to sit across us. That I don't understand also. We were sitting beside each other not talking to each other and this auntie sat across us. She looked at us and smiled. We both smiled at her but we didn't interact to each other. I had strong belief at that time that the auntie thought we were a quarrelling couple.
We alighted at Bedok, and our differing walking paces separated us. We walked to the interchange. We boarded the same 69 bus. We alighted at the same bus stop. She headed to her School of Business and I took the left turn to my school. That was an awkward commute but interesting. Maybe tomorrow I will smile at her. Maybe....
Only but...... there was no tomorrow.
She wasn't in the train. She didn't board the train or maybe she was in another cabin. But even if she was in another cabin, I would see her at Bedok. But I didn't. Maybe she was on MC or something.
I didn't see her the next day. And the next day. And the day after. And the week after.
Basically, that fateful day was the last time I saw her. 1.5 years of my 3 years of education, I saw her everyday and after that day, I didn't see her again. And I still have 1.5 years of school left. Even if she was older or graduating, she couldn't have just disappeared in the middle of the semester?
So yes, that is the story. I saw her everyday. One day she sat beside me on an eastbound train. The next day I don't see her anymore. I found it strange but it wasn't a phenomenon that haunted me. It was just a commuting experience.
I told this to my mother many years later and she said, those happenings are "jodoh". God put us there for sometime. Finally God put us beside each other. But we didn't take the chance. So the chance ended and God put us away on other paths. Cool insight. But what was more intriguing was, she just disappeared.
Anyway, I did see her again. 7 years later. In 2006. I was working at a little children arts school. She sent her baby girl for a trial class in the school. She came with her husband. Way better looking than me. I recognised her, I am not sure if she recognised me. That trial class was about 45 minutes long. She was with her husband and her child throughout that class. The class ended and they left.
And for real this time... I haven't seen her yet ever since.
Well... this story may not be for everyone but I hope you enjoyed it :)
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).