Dystopian by the Bus

Acin Aulia
3 min readMay 4, 2024

I thought on Sunday mornings everyone would seem enthusiastic and fresh, especially in the morning when people should be excited for sports or other activities. But it turns out they’re not. I’m heading back home to the southern part from downtown and I really want to crash into my bed so bad because I didn’t get much sleep last night.

I usually take the bus and transfer once to get to my route home. It was a Sunday, so in the downtown area, there was a car-free day in the morning where private vehicles were prohibited from passing through, except for the bus I was on. When I got on the bus, it was already crowded, which was normal. I thought they were all getting off at the car-free day area to have fun, but not many people got off, so the bus remained crowded.

I wasn’t very aware of the outside streets as I was focused on balancing inside the bus due to the crowd. As we entered the car-free day area (which was my first experience seeing it since moving to this city), I got distracted. The speaker blaring loudly, people rushing about, laughter piercing through the bus windows, elderly folks exercising, young adults jogging — it was all bustling, lively, and seemingly joyful. The bus I was on cut through the sea of people. If I were to liken it to something, this bus was like the tale of Moses parting the sea to pass through.

I see a father snapping photos of his child by the fountain; they seem so happy that I almost smile through my eyes. Then my gaze shifted back to my own feet as the bus abruptly stopped. My head jerked up, realizing that the atmosphere inside the bus was starkly different from what was outside. The distance was close, but the vibes and mood were worlds apart.

If this is a dystopian film scene, the people on the bus are like residents from the outskirts heading to face judgment. Or, in a Hunger Games analogy, we are the volunteers that going to be fighters in the Capitol.

The older folks sat crowded together, while middle-aged women slouched against windows, clutching their travel bags. Young men gripped onto bus poles to balance against the crowd’s push. The atmosphere felt weary, even though it was morning. Perhaps they had just finished a night shift, or were heading out for a long journey, or maybe they were simply in a somber mood together. I observe again the outside scene, which is starkly contrasting with the inside of the bus. This world is filled with thick contrasts.

Perhaps, whenever I feel tired and the world seems so harsh, I will revisit this experience again. Taking the bus in the morning during a car-free day event.