Chapter 3-The Case of Maria

beggarI have learned that there’s an ultimate bliss in running without the dense weight of baggage, neither a pebble worth on my palm. There was just heavy storm of burning heat and dry spasms of asphalt on my thinning soles. I walked and turned, past through the tombs of civility, then through the desolated remains of old city. It was a long stretch of buildings and houses with blotted walls, nearly familiar as my old house–my Aunt’s old house.

This part of the city has more traders of indigent kind. Across the fast food chains that stood from corner to corner, are miniscule stores that open all day and night, indiscriminately to all customers. Most kids hike next to their doors, strewed like lost cats and dogs. I wonder where they emerge from, where they come in and out. I guess I’m not alone in this pursuit, except that they have found a constant space in this street to squat when they tire. There’s an old woman waylaid behind the glass door of Ministop. Although her presence riled those who pass by and by those of the store’s crew, she knew it was her place. It was the safest to be and the 5 year old child she carries. Her pallid face, drying from the throes of heat and noise, occasionally looks up in hope for someone to look back. I decided my place is going to be close to hers. I sat down, my feet still holding against the weight on the floor, waiting for whatever they’re waiting. My knees, now quaking from starvation, supported the slowly nauseating head. The daylight fell in total darkness.

I woke up sopped in sweat and cold at the same time. A hand poked gently on my stiffened neck, it’s hard to tell if it was just a dream. My concept of time had become confusing that tonight seemed 2 nights ago or few hours passed.

“Are you hungry?” Her brown dyed hair dangled in place, nails tinted in shimmering black and skin glowed like a sun-kissed satin. This time, I refused to talk given the premises an utterance had brought me through. She waved a plastic of bread teasing for a sign of response. I held my tongue, waiting for her to give up. Oh I long for her to give up that bread. “Where’s your family?” I could decipher the old woman’s panting next to me, wishing it had been her. The attempt paid no heed so the food ended laid for my picking. She was gone in few seconds, right to the alley I have not been. I picked up the plastic and slowly gnawed the food with bare soiled hands, hoping that in doing so, I could remember the feeling of fullness when starvation hits again. An ominous watcher now pleaded in more obvious observance, hoping the generosity will not abandon her as it did on me. My hand extended 2 sheets of bread and watched as her eyes blazed like a fire. A fire greater than happiness—like happiness ashed with sprinkles of pain.

“Thank you,” a faint sound overcame a strange feeling. Power dwells in me.

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