by Esther Elizabeth Suson
I love riding the MRT. No matter how crowded it is, how broken the aircons, how rattly the sounds, I love it. Especially when the train swoops over the street, at treetop level and even higher, the sky showing through the skyscrapers when it is normally invisible from the street. The experience is as peace-giving as the deck of a passenger ship.
While on one of these MRT rides, the train car was clear enough that I could see out the window, even hanging onto one of the middle poles. We passed a building being built between two equally tall buildings, a skeleton of steel without even concrete.
Squatting at the very edge, confident as if they were on a bench two feet from the ground instead of two hundred, was a line of men, six or seven of them. They did not seem to be workers – they were in basketball jerseys, long shorts, and slippers, not the long sleeves, long pants, and work boots of builders.
That late afternoon, they were relaxed, laughing and talking back and forth among each other. And I felt, as the train carried me past, that their emotions were somehow akin to my own – they were feeling the peace that comes with the open air, and knew themselves to be kings of the world.