We were laughing and lively, as we often were. It had been a hard year. We were learning to trust each other again. Japan was our cure. Or at least, it was our band aid.
The train sped on. Our vibrations matched its speed. I was in equal fascination and disregard of the unique culture around me. Much of the time, I obsessed over the food. Other times, I was in awe of the norms and mannerisms we observed around us. Sometimes, I was just lost in you.
A sudden loudness startled me from our gaiety. All heads on the train swung around.
It was a portly man, perhaps in his 50s, briefcase in hand and as impeccably dressed as the rest of the 8am-8pm crowd that squashed into the rush-hour traffic of the train. And he was flat on his face.
A swarm of hands and murmurs reached out to help lift him back to his feet. His eyes still slept through his mumbles of gratitude. He had collapsed asleep, face to floor, in exhaustion!
“Ah, yeah…seen that happen so many times,” you said. “It’s sad…”
“Did he really just fall asleep standing?!” I was in disbelief.
People of Asia work long and hard. They’re exhausted. Even the students we used to teach throughout the continent would became narcoleptic and suffer from chronic nosebleeds.
We soon got off the train at our stop. I now felt how sharply the echoes of my laughter contrasted against the dreary grey of a Tokyo train ride at the end of a “9-5” day.