Trips on the LRT tends to be unremarkable. At times little more than glorified tins of sardines with pushing and jostling to get on board. No more space? No worries; just hold your stomach in and hold your breath as the amalgamation of sweat, deodorants and body odour permeates the air.
They tend to be normal.
There are days, however, when things are different. There's space to sit down, time to read, and clean-smelling air to breath. However, these days are rare. Even rarer is the time when someone talks to you.
"Interesting book there," said a man on Thursday night, erupting me from the world that Being the One. A book postulating the possibility that everything that happened in 'The Matrix' is real (not impossible, mind you).
I glanced over to this 'humaton' who interrupted my journey to be 'unplugged'. "Yes it is," I replied, keen to get on with my reading.
Then a thought hit me. A friend of mine recently posted on her blog challenging her readers to be friendly to a stranger (see The Particular Ordinary). She wrote of how we generally do not take kindly strangers for fear of being hurt (somewhere along those lines anyway). A valid point, with a valid counter point: that the fear is not unjustified. No shame in admitting it, for I too am afraid at times.
But those are the times when I forget that a lot of others feel the same way. They are afraid for the same reasons that we are: that others might harm us. This fear, like the LRT rides, became a part of everyday life. They became normal.
What if we are not so afraid all the time?
"It's about the Matrix. Have you seen the movie?"
"Yes, I have." He paused, swayed involuntary by the snaking of the LRT. "You know, a lot of what the movie talks about is very similar to what Islam talks about..."
The next ten minutes or so were spent in a pleasant discussion of Islam and the Matrix, of movies and religion, of how both can be used to complement each other (my view, that). It was enlightening, an experience that ended prematurely. So prematurely, that he almost missed his stop. In the scramble, he just managed to fumble me his card.
I sat back, closing the book and slipping away into my Official Islamic Conference bag, feeling content as I folded my arms and smiled to myself.