Tales from the lonely benches

HAVE you ever tried parking along the Beach Road and actually sit in one of those benches that are scattered far and few along the long stretch of beaches near the walkway?

You may say that these lonely-looking benches with wooden planks and metal feet, facing the sea exposed to the rain, sun and the winds day in and day out have been there forever. So, what’s with those ordinary benches by the seaside anyway?

I can say nothing much, except you’ll find some planks missing and some rusty nails sticking out but if you take a few minutes to sit down and be in for something you’ve always taken for granted.

Oh the stories those benches can tell!

Arriving an hour early for a massage appointment at the Beach Road one evening, I crossed the street and relished the chance to finally sit on one of the three benches facing the sea, stretch my legs, breathe in the salty tang of the ocean air and just let time pass and watch the world go by. It was a chance which I had been dying to do since forever.

I was in a daydreaming state when an angry-looking guy flopped down on the bench farthest from me. Not aware that somebody was there, he broke the silence and started yelling at somebody or whoever he was talking to in his cellphone. I was glued to my seat, not wanting to eavesdrop yet not wanting to get up and catch his attention. After a few minutes, the guy stood up and left, not knowing I was there.

Trying to recapture my earlier bliss, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath when two joggers passed by, pleasantly swapping stories to each other. Minutes later, a couple passed by, bickering about bills and family matters as though they were at home and not on a public walkway.

Talk about peace! The thought of relaxing flew away totally this time, and I began to see the benches in different way—as an avenue to learn about people and their lives. It’s like being given a chance to peek into a window and see things for what they are without the main characters knowing that you’re there. Okay, call it eavesdropping but no one can blame you for sitting there and hearing all those things. In the first place, you were there to sit and relax!

From that time, I never drive along the Beach Road without glancing at these benches which are deserted most of the time but if I do see anyone sitting there, I begin to weave stories in my mind as to what they are thinking and what they are going through.

Many times I see couples or families watching the sunset from the benches and had to curb the urge to stop and snap photos—after the blasting of horns and screeching sounds of the cars behind me of course.

Those benches could indeed provide several chapters to write a book. As for those bench occupants, be careful because one day, you might just find your stories in the pages of a book!

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