My Bus of Thought: Reading Terry Pratchett In Public
Got on the bus at around 10pm today. I had to finish a few things in the office and extended my hours. The bus I got on was a one year old yellow skinned smelly creature. At one year old, it’s cleaner than most buses in the metro, but that doesn’t mean it’s on top condition. The aircon is busted and the cover seats are muddied. For two hours this will be my shell because it’s going to be a turtle soon when it hits EDSA- the longest, most crowded and, most dreaded pass any Filipino commuter had to endure every day. Anyway, I’ve learned to shun all the noise and distraction by plugging my headphones and playing some music from my phone while reading. When I’m feeling confident and focused, I could do without the headphones and would read all the way through the ride without breaking my concentration. All the way through the ride is almost two hours of squeezing in a crowded world of people who looks like they had a long day and would like it to end as soon as possible. The bus crawled anyway. Today I’m still reading Terry Pratchett’s, I Shall Wear Midnight.
If you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett and thinks they are silly stories about pointy hats and swooshing brooms or wizards waving wands then consider This Reader- once sinner and unbeliever who have thought the same before. Now I’m reading the whole series (all 40 of them) for the last 7 months and it continues to surprise me.
You might think it is a bit extravagant to spend almost seven months and not to mention – money on 40 books (and more!) written by just one author. How about Kurt Voneggut? How about Margaret Atwood? How about Isaac Asimov? Or how about the new exciting debut authors of today? And how about the pile of unread books I have on my bedside table and the other pile waiting by the door? There is a buffet of books to be consumed and I’m sticking with just the sushis and makis? First of all, there’s nothing wrong with just sushi.
It might be extravagant and irresponsible considering life is too short for just one author. But I think every reader, if they ever get around to be bothered about it, have that one special author whom they always gravitate into. That one author who just speaks directly to his/her heart. It just so happens that mine – Terry Pratchett have written more than 70 books, that’s almost as many as the books in the bible, well depending on which bible you’re reading. The Catholic has 73 and the Protestants have 66 books. But now and forever, the number of Terry Pratchett’s published books won’t change, not until the last one comes out. And that’s the truth, a very definite truth.
As I read I Shall Wear Midnight, I had to stop and look out the bus window and not look anyone directly in the eye or they will see tears flowing from behind my glasses. When I read Terry Pratchett, I am reminded of the people in my hometown, in this city, in this country. I am reminded of my old grand aunt, living alone in her house, burgled just a few days ago. I am reminded of the 44 police officers who died in an encounter with the rebels in my country at Mamasapano, Maguindanao. I am reminded of the people who doesn’t know the sophisticated words to make sense of this new world. I am reminded of my father and mother. The people I ride the bus everyday who had to endure buses like this. No other author has made me glance thoughtfully at strangers before (I’m afraid I might be scaring a few of them right about now).
Maybe it’s because Terry Pratchett have made me laugh and cry at the same time that I’m beginning to confuse which one to laugh at and which one to cry on in the ‘real world’. Maybe that’s the joke all along.