Lessons from a Lady Named Joy
Remember Jaja – the little girl I met on the bus going home to the province? I still think about her sometimes and wonder how she’s doing. I hope she’s well and happy and enjoying her childhood.
On my trip back to Manila after that vacation, I met Joy. What really got me interested in Joy was that she reminded me so much of Jaja. It was like I was seeing the adult version of the little girl I met a few days earlier.
I arrived early at the bus station, which was just a block away from our house. Mom and Dad walked me to the bus, as they always do. The long vacation was over, and a lot of people – both tourists and locals – were on their way back to Manila. Good thing I was able to reserve a seat, although the seat I got was already at the second to the last row.
It was almost 8pm, and the bus was about to leave, but the seat next to me was still empty. I took out my iPod and book and began reading while the light was still on. A few minutes after 8, our bus still hasn’t left the station. I guess they were waiting for some more passengers who reserved seats. My seatmate was one of them. I was almost getting drowsy when finally, she arrived. She sat down beside me, catching her breathe. She must’ve raced her way to the bus station to catch the last trip going to Manila that day.
“Hi, are you heading to Manila, too?” she asked me. “Yes,” I answered. “I’m Joy,” she smiled at me. “Mae,” I smiled back.
I stowed my book and iPod and readied myself for a conversation with Joy. I wondered what her story was and I was eager to know. I didn’t get disappointed because Joy was very talkative. In fact, we talked until 1 in the morning. Her high-pitched voice floated inside the bus, along with the soft snores of the passengers.
For 5 hours, I listened to Joy unfold her life. She just went on and on with her stories. As I listened to her, I noticed how similar her story was with Jaja’s. Like Jaja, she was orphaned at a young age and was left to the care of her aunt. Since college, she had been living independently while her aunt went abroad to work. She has learned to live on her own and look after herself. She told me about her past relationships, and how her ex boyfriend left her for another woman. She told me about her work, her colleagues and struggles. She shared that she wanted to try her luck overseas, hoping her life would be much better. She was only in her early twenties and she seemed be very enthusiastic about everything. I felt how strong a person she was, probably because of the circumstances in her life.
Joy travelled alone during that trip, her first time to do so. She was supposed to travel with her friends but her schedule didn’t permit her to join them. This didn’t hold her back from getting the most of the very long weekend so she decided to explore Ilocos on her own. She recounted her adventures to the different tourist destinations she visited, places I myself haven’t even been to considering I lived almost half of my life in that province. She excitedly showed me the photos and videos that she took from the places she visited.
Joy had a positive outlook in life. I envied her and wished I could have that same confidence and positive attitude. I thought of Jaja and wished she’d grow up with the same positive outlook.
At 1am, she must have noticed that I was so sleepy so she finally told me to sleep. I slept thinking about Joy and Jaja and prayed that they both have a bright future ahead of them.
I don’t normally talk to strangers on the bus but God allows us to meet other people to let us realize and learn things from them. Tonight, I’m headed to the province again for the long weekend. Before I leave the house, I just had to finish this post I started two months ago. I’m looking forward to hearing more inspiring stories from strangers!