Three years ago, this day …
I waved my last goodbye to my favourite bus captain, whom I called ‘Cutie’, also the most beautiful boy I’ve ever met. There was something about him. He was like an open book and full of light. His beauty was like that of a wild flower that had blossomed through a crack in a roof or a tarmac opening, brave yet delicate.
The commute I loved, the sunshine in a smile.
I first saw him in April 2018, two days in a row on the 12:21 bus. I’d just started an afternoon part-time position then, and was always commuting around lunch time. The commute was one I enjoyed: it infused my day with elegance. Taking all of 20 mins, the bus route ran though stretches of highway so lined with trees and verdant green; coinciding with classical lunchtime treats on the symphony radio, this was the best time of my day. My mind leapt with joy inspired by the tapestry of the wonderful scene passing by as I gazed out the window.
I didn’t get to ride on his bus as often as I’d have liked. He often disappeared for a month, or much more. Over a year-and-a-half, I rode on his bus but more than ten times? 🤔 He seemed, at first, amused that I’d always smile at him, then wave after I’d alighted. But I had his attention for sure. How do I know? I had a change of plan one day while on his bus and I didn’t press the bell before my usual stop. (And I was at the upper deck.) He stopped there, however, where I usually alighted, for a few minutes … but there was no one boarding or alighting from the bus.
I alighted three stops after. Just before that, I took a few steps towards him and said, “I’m going somewhere else today!” He smiled and laughed, looking at me from the rear-view mirror, he seemed to say, “Well, I didn’t know that!” 😅😂 From that day on, we were always smiley with each other. He had the most radiant smile: like sunshine and nectar to my otherwise hum-drum existence.
What’s his name ? How does he look so darn handsome as he drives ?
It was a transitory moment in my life, you see. Having moved with my parents a year ago from a house with large, open spaces to a flat much smaller—that felt constrictive, and a neighbourhood populated mostly with older folks—I missed the friendliness and exuberance of the dogs I used to encounter on my daily walk: the malamutes, huskies, golden retrievers and labradors. I was also waiting for my own flat to be ready: a space just for me, my dreams, and lovely things to soothe my over-sensitive nature. It turned out to be a much longer wait than I expected … more than four years. On the work front, things were not inspiring either; and that’s just putting it mildly.
I had a plan to befriend him, knowing I wouldn’t be going this way forever. I wanted to know his name. His story. His hopes and dreams. I’d somehow thought him a part-time student, part-timing as a bus captain … and wondered what was he doing behind the driver’s wheel! He was young and dashing, looking not a day older than 25, with fair features: rather bookish with his glasses on; swoon-worthy, like a matinee idol, when he donned his shades!
The stare that compelled me to reach out bravely.
It was one of those rare, carefree days at work when I hopped onto his bus for the second time in a week. I was later that day, the thought of seeing him certainly didn’t cross my mind. I must have blushed, for I couldn’t contain my joy! Then his face took on such an expression of tenderness—which was detectable, even with his shades—as I walked past him to get a seat behind. A quick glance showed the last row was taken. I turned behind momentarily; and next, Cutie was staring at me with his mouth wide open! I stood there still, entranced by his stare, staring back—it seemed more than 10 seconds passed by (and the bus wasn’t moving). Unbearably self-conscious then, I made my escape to the upper deck.
The bus journey continued uneventful. I waited at the exit before alighting, not looking his way. He closed the door just as I was to pass by the entrance, but continued peering at me through it: I returned his gaze. Thinking he was waiting for a wave from me: I did just that! A full arm wave with a big wide smile, like I was his cheerleader! 😘 But this astonished him. Was I too affectionate, too dramatic in my gesture? He drove off as I lowered my arm.
” Sweet soul of love! I should weary of you, too; but it was glorious that day.”
— Margaret Fuller (1810 – 1850)
Certain that I had to reach out to him now: I wrote him a note. A friendly, breezy one—that should work, according to a friend, when I showed her my message. Thus was the plan then: keep the note in my bag every day until I saw him; hand this note to him just before alighting from the bus.
A burning message I kept for weeks.
It was another 23 days before I hopped on his ride again. Day and night, I wondered when, if ever, I’d get to hand him my note—and whether, he’d want to be my friend or not. He’d burst into a smile when I looked his way that noon (upon tapping my card at the entrance door); he turned to look in front next, and I moved on to the rear.
I was a whirling mess of fear and terror the moment I sat, my heart pounding like I’d been chased for miles! I looked a few times at the rear-view mirror to be sure it really was Cutie behind the driver’s wheel, so I wouldn’t hand my note to the wrong driver! 😱 He was surprised to find me suddenly standing beside him where I should have alighted, but braced himself to receive me anyway. I can’t remember what I uttered at that point … Suffice it to say, he received the note and thanked me politely for it.
So I alighted, waved him goodbye. And that, was the last I saw of him. This day, three years ago.
Below is the message I gave him that day (Thurs, May 23, 2019). And those postcards were the first of the kind that I’ve sent him since.
I haven’t known someone like him, he’s ordinary and yet so special.
I’m still in touch with him today, mainly through WhatsApp. He took almost a month to respond to my first (Snoopy) note, not because he was negligent—but because, I gathered—he’s somewhat dyslexic with alphabets. I’ve ‘adopted’ him as a younger brother now, being much older than him; and he, vice-versa: this complements us both, for I’m the youngest of 4 girls and he’s the second eldest of 4 boys 🙂.
It’s a mystery how we should have formed a friendship in such unlikely circumstances, we’re almost polar opposites on the surface; however, it’s by acquainting oneself with someone different that “we find out what we are like: by contrast and distinction from what is unlike us”. I hope to send him postcards for as long as I’m able, to see him through the uncanny ups-and-downs of the great adventure—Life.
Here’s to you, dear little captain brother, although I know you can’t read this post and probably won’t come across it either (how would you react if you did? 😂), may you find every happiness, fulfilment and success on your own terms in this strange and big world. As you should already know, I’ll always be your cheerleader, even if from afar 😘.
This post is dedicated to my cutie captain, and to all his colleagues who serve the public, enabling a more inclusive society. Don’t ever forget the value of your work, and may you get sufficient rest from your hard labour of service.