That Day in Spring


I patiently waited for the next bus that will take us back to Busan, South Korea. It a was cold night back in April. I was in Jinhae Bus Station, happy and contented after experiencing my first cherry blossom festival.

Surreal.

We were not the first persons in line so I thought my friend, Ate B, and I might not be seated together. True enough, when the bus arrived, the window seats got filled quickly. We ended seating across each other in aisle seats. I glanced at my seatmate and noted he was probably a European based on the language he was speaking while on a phone call. A few seconds after his call, he was sniffing and he took out a roll of tissue. I thought to myself he probably has colds due the weather.

As I comfortably sat in my chair, I thought of the day I had and of how marvelous rows of trees with small pink flowers can be. For years, seeing those beauties has just been a dream so it was such a surreal feeling to have finally seen them. Calm, serene music played in my head when I walked down the Gyeonghwa railroad.

The cherry blossoms at Gyeonghwa station.

While absorbed in my thoughts, the night got colder, almost 8 degrees C if I recalled correctly. I pulled out a face mask from my bag and wore it. It was the only way for my nose and lips to survive. It was then when I noted that my seatmate was still sniffing. He was even teary-eyed. Seeing my mask, he asked me, “Can you speak in English?”

I said, “Yes.”

He then replied, “Thank God. I don’t have colds, in case you’re wondering.”

I said,”Oh, no! It’s because I feel cold. My face feels cold so I have to warm my nose.” I then left him in peace.

He cried afterwards. In fact, he quietly cried during the rest of the trip to Busan. When we were nearing the Busan Seobu Bus Terminal, he said to me,”Sorry I was crying the whole time. I got a phone call earlier that my mom died. I feel bad I cannot fly back home immediately because I work here. I hope you understand.”

I said,”You don’t need to say sorry. I understand the pain.”

He gave a me small smile. Afterwards, we got off the bus and proceeded to our respective destinations.

On that day, when spring and the cherry blossoms can give so much happiness to many people, someone felt pain and grief from the loss of a loved one.

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