Friday, October 11, 2013

Theft in the sidewalk

My pocket "point-and-shoot" camera and a pair of slippers were stolen! In the tiredness of my body for incessant walking Friday last week, I stopped in Claveria to take a rest in the sidewalk before I could go on to a government hospital to sleep in its compound where it is safe; but I found out later at dawn, I slept the whole night in Claveria and was a victim of theft. In my life as homeless in the vicinity of the hospital, I have met a nine-year-old boy who is fond of collecting cartons, plastic bottles and cans and his young mother who likes to put on make-up at night. They sleep at daytime at DMC hospital and are busy at night in Claveria: the boy, a beggar; the mother, a prosti. Not all seen about the hospital building have patients; a few are homeless persons trying to take shelter in and to say they have patients is to save them from the shame of being known of having no homes. But a homeless can detect one who is also homeless. And when they come to know other homeless individuals, they are happy they are not alone. My friendship with the boy began in the steel swing where I frequent myself every morning and ask him to join me in the swinging. This connection transitioned gradually into like a deeper friendship as truth of our existence gradually emerges as well. I had the chance to ask him why he likes me: "Kay gusto man kog amigo." (Because I need a friend.) Why me? "Kay wala man kay balay." (Because you are homeless.) At first, he said they have a patient admitted in the hospital; but later, I had doubts because his conversations were different every time I asked him about the patient. My feeling was supported as true when, one evening on my way to downtown, I caught him in the sidewalk in Claveria with his blanket on ready to sleep. When I revealed I too am homeless, he is connected to me like my own shadow, asking me to go to Claveria every night where he begs and sleeps. Friday last week, on my way back to the hospital walking from downtown via Claveria, somebody was following me and calling my attention: the boy! I was already very tired of incessant walking all day because earlier I went to the feast of San Francisco de Asis in Tagakpan. I promised him I would bring them "lechon." But something went wrong. I returned the rice and lechon I "sacked" for the boy and his mom. I never ate my share in the feast to be able to "sack" my share for the boy and his mom. But a man from the church rebuked me upon exiting: "Welcome mo diri para mamiyesta pero sa sunod ayaw mo pag-sacking og pagkaon para makakaon ang uban." (You are welcome here to feast but do not sack food next time so other visitors can eat as well.)  I returned the food. And I had to go to the nearby Pantatan (Catfish) Festival in Tugbok where everyone could have a share of one grilled catfish and rice. I was happy to have something to give to the boy and the woman for dinner because they eat only once a day. I rested in the sidewalk with the boy that Friday night but was able to sleep the whole night unknowingly while his mom was on her particular trade that evening. It does not matter if my camera and slippers were stolen; what matters is the friendship that I have found in the person of this youth.

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