The weak air conditioning was rendered useless against the penetrating afternoon heat. Coupled with the droning noise on the bus, I struggled to stay awake from this terrible sleep inducing heat. I really did not want to miss my stop.
I focused my attention, instead, on the myriad of conversations happening on the bus around me. They were a reflection of many things.
Due to their close proximity to me, I inevitably overheard a boisterous conversation between two teenage boys. The topics jumped about violently from talking about something superstitious to them taking drugs. Despite many being an earshot away and the nature of the topic, they were talking brazenly. I was strangely not appalled by it. Rather, it was like listening to a radio just that the conversation progresses organically. It is unscripted and much more life-like than any well-directed movie. I guess I find realness and unpredictability captivating.
Just as the drowsiness was to get the better of me, a sharp, awakening, young voice pierced through the entire upper deck. It was a young girl’s voice, a highly articulated voice that was vehemently explaining to her friend about how the class did for their exams. The intensity in which she was analysing it made me realised that while the government has made great efforts to emphasize less on academic results, this prevailing mindset seems too deeply entrenched to be uprooted. The system’s infrastructure may change but can the culture of seeking excellence through digits on paper change along with it?
Staring diagonally in front of me, another primary school girl was doing her homework on the bus. It was reminiscent because it reminded me of my primary school days. Rushing to do my work on the shaky school bus so that I will have less to do at home. It was that driving sense of responsibility, eagerness, and preparedness I have then that is somewhat lost now.
With all these triggering conversations happening around me, I can’t help but to realise that being on the bus in the peak hours on a schooling afternoon, was probably a trip back to my schooling days. The bus was indeed a vehicle that serves more than its purpose of transporting me back home but also back to a time of when I was a student.
All these conversations made me think about what it means to grow up in Singapore and whether in essence has it change since my time.