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Tick tock. Green for go. Red for stop. I see everything; I hear everything: anything that moves and rests. People are coming and going, scurrying like little ants. From the thirty-first floor I watch them in their mass exodus, out of their steel and glass anthills towards the setting sun. Just this morning, the chaos of the Manila commute greeted them, forced them to walk along narrow sidewalks the government thought we wouldn’t mind. But the government only has afterthoughts, nothing original in their taxed and tax-infested minds. Potholes. Dangerous bullet holes. More news about victims of hit and run. Our streets are so treeless, our lives so miniscule and listless, most are lazy to take the footbridge. They might get mugged anyway. Jaywalk, anyway. We’d rather lose our lives than our bags anyway. But then again, losing bags these days also mean losing lives. Thieves are no longer content stealing. They silence too.

Change. It’s always their slogan. Media men are being paid well and I’m not talking about fat pay checks from their micromanaging, bourgeois bosses. Politicians know their allies and lead us on into the illusion our cities will change, our roads will be clean, and this country, trafficked at the cost of our destiny, will be sparkling like the shiny first-world metropolises of the West. Hardly true. Cigarette butts clog gutters and drainages. White styrofoam memories of haphazardly packed cheap food and the ozone layer depletion. Littering is everywhere and we’re used to it, the way we’re depressingly getting used to the stench of dried urine in public places goddam men leave to mark their territories. Big bodies but such small bladders. The sidewalk vendors too are occupying pavements. Men and women of the streets make it their home, following the ants until they reach the deepest recesses of their pockets. Pity, after all, is an enterprise. When we don’t give to the poor, we feel guilty. When we give to the poor, we still feel guilty.

Laughter in the rain. Wailing in the floods. We’re such a forgetful people. We even forget our consciences at home. So we rumble inside overcrowded train stations and curse inside trains which look more like a can of sardines. Like fish in the sea. Profit for these companies. Our public transportation more like business. Bus stops neglected, lives as well. Isn’t it why these buses spend overtime in these stops? More passengers, more money, never mind the burning gases of our defeatist middle class. The profit-driven public service reduced to nothing more but a livelihood. Tick tock. On the dot. But we’re missing the mark more than ever. Traffic we say. Wake up earlier, the higher-ups reply. Oh, if only we could. If only there was enough sleep. If only my husband had spent the night with me rather than fucking someone else. If only our phones were un-glued from our eyes we might see this all. Everything. Anything. The ants, sorrows; know our animal instincts and human defects. Truth is a shadow lurking behind those struck by the light of our frivolity. My light shining brighter. See the infidelities. See the brokenness, the decay. See the one hand we should welcome to steal our hearts. The kind of thief who can silence the howls of grey matters, and clean up the mess in our heads.

In a mad world, only the mad are sane.

― Akira Kurosawa