her deep-set obsidian eyes trace the contours of the hills of my face as she chew on the excess strap of her backpack, which is the thin polyester strap that usually extends from the shoulder strap when you tighten the bag towards your body. her mother, totally oblivious of her child’s chewing activity, swap places with her daughter to sit beside a friend for an intimate and animated chat.
she reminds me of shiva, the destroyer/transformer of the hindu gods. on each passing minute of her stare, it feels like she destroys the layers and layers of masks that i wear. no matter how i try to evade her eyes, she finds a way to catch mine. for a moment, she manage to stifle the exaggerated activities of my senses. for a number of minutes, the smell of an over-riped guava dipped in vinegar and sweat from the armpits of the people of the bus cease its attack on my olfactory nerves, the tiny droplets of sweat, saliva, bird poo and mucous stop to find its way to the pores of my skin, visions of labor layoffs and pay cuts diffuse in the clouds of my thoughts, the lust and the aura of sexual desires of the persons beside me subsided after a few hard beats of the heart, the crumbs of the slightly burnt crust of the hawaiian chicken barbecue pizza melts in my taste buds in a snap, and the collage of the images of the distant destination is shut down.
she is shiva. through her eyes i see destruction. mounts of dreams collapsing, towers of hopes crashing, structures of plans crumbling.
her gaze, like that of a judging deity, strips me of all my pretensions, apprehensions and fears. she destroys to transform.
i am changed.
now i know why she chews the strap of her bag.