People on the Bus
Today was the day of the sad prostitute, or maybe she had been raped at work. I really don’t know what was going on, another suffering day. I wanted to sit next to her on the bus, because she was small and I was big, and I had a big bag. She had that broad beautiful face of an indigenous woman in the city. She had fine features and brown skin, the kind of face which no one recognizes as indigenous in Chile, or accepts. I wonder if there is a race to racial extermination here in Chile. It probably comes from within. The largest Mapuche population in Chile lives in Santiago. Self-denial is progress and modernity, right?
Just a thought..for the record.. And her legs were open, and it was strange. And her leg fit just within my leg, and I rested up against hers, reaching a relaxing position at times. I was sitting almost off the seat, so as not to invade her space. At times it was mutually comfortable and as the bus swayed and bounced raucously our legs stayed together or got closer, and then I punched my fist into the palm of my hand, expressing a frustrating thought that had passed through my head in my own recounting of a shitty day and her leg jumped away, a seemingly instinctual reaction … Why were her legs so open and then the morbid thought that she had been raped by an employer came to my mind. Her leg was so close, and her body and her mind, because she was so small, were so far. I can feel her, sense her, am concerned about her. I realized that she had been sniffling the entire time. I wanted to turn and look at her, and see what was happening. I couldn’t.
A clown comes aboard and I hate clowns. They pick on people. This clown reads the papers and cares about its contents. Pinochet apparently has 170 million dollars in gold ingots in Shanghai, he informs passengers beneath the fluorescent lights. He talks words of happiness, brotherhood, looking people directly in the eye and my skepticism was reduced. He then asked me if I wanted to smoke.
–Once, I fell in love with the woman seated near the window on the bus running parallel to me on Americo Vespucio, near Grecia. The two buses, mine and hers, raced around the circle, keeping pace with each other, separated by two feet. I looked over, throught the two scratched and smudged window panes, and smiled. She smiled back.–
I said no, and later on, the woman, almost diminutive, broad faced, with smooth dark skin and delicate features looks at me, as I look at her. Her eyes sparkle, they were glistening with tears, and we smile at each other. What happened? She has been sniffling the entire time and has her legs open still, leading me again to think that she has been raped by her boss. Patron, jefe, jefecito, viejo verde, jote, violador.
There was something, when I sat down, she was pretty, I think, and small, unassuming. no tension.
Ive never ever seen eyes communicate such sadness, sadness and optimism at the same time. Broad brown eyes, really, Mapuche. Fucking really, sparkling…and the clown brought us together. She had been crying, she was not young, not old, but not 30..Ive no fucking idea, Im White, what do I know?
They were tears, and I thought that she should come to dinner with me, where I was going, and be taken care of. Then I realized that she had fallen asleep, like workers do or people who have been crying a lot, on the bus, or anyone does, uncomfortably, on a bus. Then maybe she was sad because she had broken up with a boyfriend, or her mother had died. But why were her legs splayed open, like of a horrible scene in a movie? I consulted, friends, an older woman, 74, and a younger woman, 20, who has many friends who have gotten abortions, all illegal in this country, and they both concurred that the possibility existed. I saw the answer in their eyes as I told the story.
And she was asleep, and a grateful woman, small, but not too large, perfect, took my seat alongside her as I vacated it, instead of a man. She had cried herself to sleep…tucked into that personal space between the window, (glass, rubber, metal headrest), the backrest, your chin and your chest. It was 850pm. Santiasco.