Tuesday grime

I clung to the overhead handrail for support, like everyone’s shirts clung to their backs with sweat. I didn’t know which was worse–to be out under the sweltering noonday sun, or be boxed inside the train’s asthmatic air conditioning with human beings whose hygiene were already in varying degrees of deterioration. Everyone had a sweaty nape. And I was going to utter, for the millionth time, a silent plea to God–he could redeem murderers, so maybe He could also redeem an incompetent management board–when I espied, not more than arm’s reach from me, a couple animatedly talking to each other. The short, plump girl, a nurse, was facing away from his boyfriend, towards the glass window smeared with palm and fingerprints. She was fanning herself with a notebook while her boyfriend, equally plump, but taller, spoke to her hair. The suddenly boyfriend took out his MRT card, and I thought he was going to preposterously fan himself with it, too. Instead, he began scraping his face with it–left cheek, right cheek, forehead down to the nose bridge–so that when enough dark brown material had caked on the card, he wiped it clean on his shirt sleeve. My plea lodged on my throat, and I turned away, to my biceps and the antiseptic scent of my morning soap. The station of my salvation was still far away.


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