For days, I battled the itch of moving, staunched by the promise of young generous lady or yet another, to come back. The crumbs of unfinished food from a mine of pile beside every fast food chain were beginning to become beyond bland. Hence I started the day, (often at noon), with a slow hoof towards the west of my sleeping camp. The west offers a 24 hour rest room at the gas station and across it, is a grocery store, which is, out of the not-so-original idea, rapaciously opens various opportunities. The lucrative part of this new-found career helped me realize my own power. And so I thought. Only to realize in the end, it’s everyone’s.
Besides the prodigious tapping of food resources, I get pretty busy with other things during the day. I dance away through the occasional music of someone’s radio, sleep under a random shade when a storm of humid air sets in or watch people as they go about their usual shadowy empty self. There were what I call regulars who had established a spot within the grounds of natural property, by virtue of majority’s approval or those who didn’t mind. Here’s a man whizzing off the rusty lamp post, the smoke excrement prying on one’s mouth, a family of three with retractable stove on wheels for peanuts and coated egg, a crippled old man summoning passengers to a jeepney ride, little kids my age dragged by hurried strut of their mothers and co residents unmoved through night and day.
In the course of my daily travel, I became acquainted with few other kids who belong to the society of unwanted and neglected. There’s Pinay and Pinoy in inseparable convocations of sifting through smelling waste of sacks. They are said to be siblings, Pinoy being older at 9 and her sister at 6. The girl and I would often exchange phrases as “Hi. How are you?” but the brother refute any possible mingling by pulling her riveting thinly arm. Perhaps my addition could mean a burden of another mouth to feed. He took great distance from a gang of lads sometimes forming banquet alongside every business and sometimes scattered in pairs. They did offered me to join the group once, bribing with unattractive soiled rice in a plastic but I am no stranger to this affair. The rejection took an offensive toll towards my erring presence and so I’m prohibited to be around their designated territories. They do things differently, which I have attempted poorly. Later on, I had to thank them for showing off their craftmanship.
I didn’t have access to totalitarian educational system. It is what they said it is. I still remember how they loathed bitterly on my desire to pursue forward into high school.
“School is for rich people. Those poor idiots who think they could fool themselves end up in lowly blood sucking jobs barely feeding their families.” Carlo chuckle with approval while Aunt Rina stuff her already full mouth.
“I had a customer last week, really rich politician,” in her bragging voice, loud as a chirrup of a gutted goat. I doubt that.
“He invited me to his big house and fuck! I’d definitely want to be a mistress for that house. He was in this big couch, really huge than your bed,” while she point finger to my starry eyed face. “and I mean really gigantic than my bed it could take maybe 10 girls. But fuck, that ass is so heavy I could hardly breathe when he’s on top. And that breath, shit fuck as a pig!” she continued as her face turned crumpled sheet from disgust.
“You know how much he fuckin’ paid me for that hell?” Fuckin’ two thousand! Fuckin’ two. Can you believe that?”
“My teacher said that most scientists came from average or even poor families?’ It was supposed to be a mild defensive statement but came out rather as an infernal assuming protest.
“What?” her voice now strident and forceful. “Is this what they’re teaching nowadays? All the crap about delusional hopes and dreams. Well let me break it down to you kiddo. There is no dream. This shitty house and that food I fuckin’ feed you are the only real shit you gotta deal with.” That’s Aunt Rina.
My family’s not all bad as it appears. They were good educators in so far as surviving the streets. Aunt Rina said that people naturally mimic a person they are not. But everyone stirs from that mask, even the best pretender slips given time. I have to be watching and listening when that time comes. So I stood there observing the haste of two bodies in a crowd clinging side by side of an old woman waiting for a cab, utterly concern for no more than her grocery bags. One of the kids in the group lashes behind, his fidgety hand carefully reaching for the purse. When the deed was successfully done, each of the positioned ally dispersed into all directions. After few episodes of what seemed a well rehearsed play, I came up with an improvisation that will change the gears of my life.