The P-15 bus was stuck on the train track as a locomotive was bearing down on us. I was in the middle part of the articulated vehicle, where there aren’t any windows, which is why I couldn’t see what was going on.
I could only hear the other passengers’ desperate screams, as well as their pleas to the driver to open the doors and let us all out.
For the first time in my life I felt death as something certain, possible and close at hand.
For the first time I was afraid of it. I thought of my family and all the things I still have left to do.
Since I didn’t know what part of the bus the train was heading for, I didn’t try to run toward either end.
My body parts became cool, though I quickly began to sweet buckets. In the aftermath of the few seconds that the experience lasted, I was left drenched and dazed.
The driver cranked up the engine, and this reduced our fear. In the meantime, I moved to a window to catch a glimpse of a smiling machinist in the locomotive, which was now moving toward us at a snail’s pace.
In the panic, a young woman with whom I had previously been sharing glances, and who had been in the front part of the car, was suddenly at my side. A heavy-set man who had been riding next to a window practically jumped out.
People were extremely shaken, with a mixture of relief for having survived and the remains of an atrocious fear, given how close we had come to death.
The corridor, where previously it had been difficult for the passengers to pass, was now empty enough to dance.
Gradually some people began to make jokes about the experience, and I began to relax.
Later, one gentleman —who apparently knew something about trains— laughed at people’s fear saying that everything had been nothing more than a joke on the part of the driver.
I don’t know if it was a joke or if the engine had really given out at that moment. The machinist’s smile made me think that it may have been the former, but the engine’s conking out throughout the earlier part of the trip made the experience pretty believable.
One hour after experienced all that, I feel a strange euphoria for the sole fact of being alive. And to a certain degree I’m thankful to the driver, if it’s true that he really played a joke on us. Sometimes we need to see the face of death to be able to value the miracle of being alive.