[ the digitizer ]*

i am therefore i blog.

$20 Ride To Life, Love And Death

with 3 comments


Cash Money by lincolnblues
What is 20 U.S. dollars worth? I actually googled this query. Results : your own meme of “Stop Shooting” shirt, a Hello Kitty toaster, DIY Bendy Straws, Penguin Teaboy, and a Bike Chain bottle opener to name a few. To the upwardly mobile set, burning 20 bucks is a no-brainer: a 12-servings pack of Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew Colombia Coffee, and while they are at it, they might as well throw in a copy of the Talking Heads Opus CD (okay, that’s a little over a Jackson, but hey, you could afford Starbucks, right?). Perhaps a lower-grade copper Probus coin on eBay?

How about gasoline money for a truck ride home so you can be with your kids a few days before you die?

On a hot and humid late February morning, we decided to park our van underneath a tree along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City as my niece, Grace, went out to pay for her IELTS exam fees, while my sister, her husband, and myself waited. From his rear view mirror, Rosell, my brother-in-law, noticed a man in his 60’s walk draggingly. He cranked his window down to ask him if he was alright. The man, clasping his stomach, obviously in pain, said he was just trying to make it to EDSA, a good couple of blocks away. Without much thought, Rosell prompted my sister, Helen, to hand me a 500-peso bill (roughly $10), to give to the man for his taxi fare and a decent lunch as well. I alighted, approached the old man, and–curious that I am–talked to him before I gave him the money.

A brief talk– all 5 minutes short– but it seemed like eternity to me…he was recently diagnosed of a late-stage colon cancer, and with it a death sentence, or so it seemed to him, handed by his doctor: he had until the first week of March to have an operation lest he would die. I began to rattle off names/organizations/agencies/foundations, the whole alphabet soup of so-called charitable institutions, including ABS-CBN (a major Philippine media network where he just came from) and our country’s President‘s office, that he could go to. “Been there, all of them,” he said, morosely. “I either got empty promises or hallow sympathies,” his eyes resigned to the inevitable. His were a man’s who slugged it out with the world and tried to out-maneuver fate as well. Whatever glimmer of hope left in there, however, was extinguished by the anguish he felt for being abandoned. In spite of the stabbing pain and the measured breaths, this man walked his way one leaden step after another , in search for any freaking help that he never got. Imagine a bed-ridden old man who awaits for his time: emaciated, in physical agony, yet doggedly determined to get out of bed, carried his deathbed, and walked for miles on end in pursuit of an elusive purpose. He was determined to beat the deadline– only a week away. Tried he did to go beyond the limits of his dying body, but, alas, his dead hope and defeated spirit got the better of him: “All I want is some gasoline money for the truck that my friend offered me as a ride home to Tacloban (some 360 miles by land SE of Manila). I want to be with my children when I die. I want to be buried in my hometown. One thousand pesos (about $20). That’s what keeping me away from my children and my burial plot right now,” his words laced with bitterness the aftertaste of which I didn’t mind at all. Thank you for the 500 pesos; and would I mind if he had to move on (walk the two blocks to the bus station) to catch his bus? Of course, I didn’t. I handed him the amount he needed. He held my hand and thanked me again, his eyes– I had the gnawing feeling that that would be the first and the last time I will ever see him– bade me farewell.

Yes, I did mind him leaving, in a way. I wished I could have done more. I didn’t even get his name. However, to God he will never be a nameless, faceless son of His. My heart is with him, knowing he was with his children to celebrate life and love with them. Priceless.

Bookmark and Share

Advertisements

Written by nealm

8 June 2009 at 4:55 PM

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. That’s well-written. It’s a sad story but it exists! Thanks for sharing!

    Lingling

    24 July 2009 at 7:26 PM

  2. $20? That’s enough for 1 person to buy a ticket to watch a movie, have a regular cup of soda, and popcorn. But I’m willing to give it to that man who was just $20 away from his family. I’m glad you did the best you could with the 500 pesos you have. It’ll be added in your Book of Life’s pluses.

    Soraya Julian

    19 August 2009 at 2:35 PM

    • Poignant comparison there, Soraya. Amazing how pocket change to some people could actually be life-changing to others. He got what he needed. I wish I could help him buy time to spend with his loved ones. If I weigh in the merits of my deed with what was needed, I found myself wanting. I can only do as much. As such, I hope I can be more so I can do more.

      the digitizer

      19 August 2009 at 4:48 PM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: