Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Girl I Met on the Trip (Part Two)

Our conversation stopped when the bus entered the parking lot of a restaurant. I glanced at my wristwatch. It was 01.30 p.m. The driver and his assistant got off the bus, followed by most of passengers including Lucy. Some passengers stayed in the bus, unwrapping the meal they brought from home. I myself kept sitting on my seat. I ate a small loaf of bread and drank a little mineral water. I wasn’t a kind of person who liked to eat and drink much during the trip. From the windshield of the bus I could see Lucy eating in the restaurant. Her pink-colored T-shirt and light blue jeans went well with her white skin. But then… oh! My admiration vanished instantly when I found her lighting a cigarette and smoked. I didn’t like to see people smoking, let alone a girl! She seemed to have gotten used to smoking.
After around thirty-minute break, the bus ran again. I didn’t know exactly how many kilometers this Mercedes bus had run. What I knew was that it had reached the Province of Lampung.
“Candies?” I offered Lucy as I took out some candies from my small bag.
“No, thanks,” the girl said politely.
“By the way, are you a student?” I asked after I put a candy into my mouth.
“Yes, I was. I used to be a university student but I quit.”
“You quit? How come?” I wondered.
“My parents couldn’t afford to finance my study,” Lucy explained. “Besides, I don’t think it useful to complete my study because … in fact, there are a lot of unemployed scholars in this country.”
“But I think you should have thought positively.” I tried to give my opinion. “Scholars find it very difficult to get a good job, moreover high school graduates.”
“You’re not wrong.” Lucy took out a sheet of tissue paper and swept her face. Then she furthered,”But, if we can get a job offering a large sum of money, why should we continue our study? People study to get a job, don’t they?”
“Yes.” I had no comment. “Hmm… Lucy, where do you work now?”
Hearing my question, Lucy looked a little awkward. But then she calmed herself down and said,”Uhm… I work as a sales representative in a manufacturing company.”
“How long have you been working there?”
“Almost two years.”
“Oh, two years. It means that you’ve had much experience.”
“Not really.”
The trip wasn’t comfortable this time. The road was in bad condition and it was raining cats and dogs. A truck was trapped in the middle of the road. Fortunately, there was still enough space for the bus to keep on crawling. The driver had turned on the lights since it was dusk. Meanwhile the driver’s assistant played the DVD player. The eyes of most passengers were directed to the TV monitor featuring a movie about a giant snake named Anaconda that liked to assault and swallow human beings. Some old women at the back cried out when they saw a scene where the snake attacked a man on the river.
Lucy felt asleep. Maybe the light from the monitor had made her sleepy. And I had a gut to wake her up when the bus dropped in at a restaurant. This time everybody got off the bus to have dinner. Actually I didn’t have a desire to eat, but I took a pity on my stomach singing all the time. Besides, I had to wash my face in the toilet of the restaurant. The toilet in the bus was too small and the water wasn’t fresh enough since it came from the air conditioner.
I felt fresh after I had eaten a small portion of rice with fried chicken and a glass of tea. Then I got on the bus. After all passengers had sat on their respective seat, the driver drove the bus.
At midnight the bus arrived at Bakauheni seaport. The bus had to stand in line, waiting for its turn to be carried by a ship. The driver got off the bus and had a chat with other drivers.
“Where are you going?” I asked Lucy when she was about to get off the bus.
“I’m going to meet my friend.”
“Your friend?” I asked in surprise. Before my question was answered, Lucy had been out of the bus.
I observed Lucy walking towards a building in the west. A man seemed to have been waiting for her. They talked for a moment. I didn’t know what they were talking about because their position was far from the bus and I just could see them in the dim light. Lucy took out something from her handbag and gave it to the man. Then she walked back to the bus.
Some passengers complained because it took so long for the bus to be carried by a ship. Maybe it was caused by holiday time. In the holiday time there were usually a lot of people who did traveling.
After about two hours’ waiting, the bus finally got its turn. During the sea travel most of passengers slept. I changed the position of my seat to make it comfortable. And then I closed my eyes. But I didn’t sleep. I just could hear an old man behind me snoring.
When the ship reached Merak seaport, I felt free because I could enjoy the scenery again. Although it was dark outside, at least, the light from the lamps and the moon did me good.
At dawn the bus reached Jakarta. What I saw here was very different from other places. On the left and right side of the motorway I spotted skyscrapers. I tried to keep awake although I was so sleepy. But then… I lost! I fell asleep. I woke up when the bus had been in West Java. The driver grumbled because of the traffic jam. After creeping for several kilometers, the bus passed by a traditional market. So, that was the center of the problem! I didn't know why the local government didn't make an effort to manage the market in such a way that it didn't cause the traffic jam. Or, maybe the government had done something, but the regulation they made wasn’t complied with.

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