Prompt : “I really hate this way. How many times did I sat in the bus, taking good friends to the station and saying goodbye to my beloved ones.
When will I see you again, I ask myself so many times. How much time do I have to live to be able to see you all. Will you end up as memories or stay by my side?
I really hate this way.
And on my way home, sitting in the crowded bus, my heart cries in solitude.

Instagram | @ema_writes

Next stop : Central Station

The bus would stop on the right side of the biggest building in this small town. In 20 seconds, the church bell would ring twice, announcing to the world that it just turned 2pm. The doors opened and let a gush of cold air accompanied with the chattering in the local market in. Passengers hurriedly grabbed their belongings, checking their seats to make sure they don’t leave anything behind. I watch their antics. Most of them, who had arrived in this village with eager eyes were leaving now almost desperately. I don’t blame them.

“Oma, shall we leave?” asked my 23-year-old granddaughter. We? I had my hopes up only to have them crushed again. “Yes, we should leave soon. You have a train to catch,” I replied. I put on my well-perfected mask of confidence and the smile that came along with it. The whistling of the trains greeted us as we stepped out of the bus. Along the way to the platform, my granddaughter thanked me profusely for the stay and time we shared. I heard the sighs of relief that the time has come for her to leave between the lines. Now I played my ‘old and senile’ card to let her know I was glad she came by because I knew how much she missed me. Again, another mask mastered to perfection.

This is my 48th time accompanying my guests, be it friends or family, to the train station. I have memorised the timetable to make sure I was never late to pick them up when they arrived and send them on time when they departed. It is also my 48th heartbreak ever since I moved here 20 years ago after my husband’s death. I waved at my granddaughter as the train embarked on its 4-hour-journey to a place i used to call home.

The chilly air didn’t stop the villagers from coming out to the market. They engaged in old stories and latest news while buying or selling what they needed. A red bus stopped in front of me and i got in, my legs felt heavy. Funny thing about human minds is that we allow it to take control of our thoughts and how they form our day. I could have reminisced about the week my granddaughter and I spent together. Instead, I allowed it to remind me of the loneliness I felt.

Moving here was my choice. I spent decades happily married to the man I loved and we built a wonderful family together. After his sudden death, my children insisted that they could look after me and i need not worry. Maybe it was my pride of maintaining the strong woman mage i had shown them all these years. The only person whonhad seen the raw, fragile and vulnerable me was my husband. Now, he was gone. Maybe it was the right thing to do, start anew in an unknown village, away from sympathy and sorry eyes. It was a quick decision and all were surprised. I ha no intentions of being a burden to anyone. They should live their lives without me. And so, I packed and left.

The village is hidden in a valley, surrounded by massive trees and a river flowed through. Given its small size, I made friends quickly and found it easy to fit right in. They were all welcoming and showed me around. I arrived with a gaping hole in my heart when I arrived and t has not been filled over the last 20 years here. Despite the meetings, the group walk, parties, i still came home to an empty house. I missed company at home. The laughter of my children, the cries of my grandchildren and above all, the smile of my husband.

We drove by the familiar fields and the river. I really hate this. How many times have I sat in the bus, taking good friends to the station and saying goodbye to my beloved ones? When will I see them again, I ask myself so many times. I’m old and I don’t have much time left. How much longer do I have to live to be able to see you all? Will you end up as memories or stay by my side? They have called me numerous times to return but my stubborn attitude would not take the 4-hour-journey back. Call me home, please. Don’t listen to my denials.

And on my way home, sitting in the crowded bus, my heart cries in solitude.