Monday, December 20, 2004

:: My bleeding heart ::

I was sitting alone at KFC in Lipa City, Batangas, picking at some wilted lettuce leaves, chicken pieces, and dry croutons (it was offically called a “Caesar salad”) and feeling just a wee bit sorry for myself.

A long day was finally coming to an end, and so far everything had turned out the exact opposite of how I planned it.

I had looked forward to wrapping up a couple of small editing projects in the morning, having a light lunch, and then driving leisurely to Lipa and attend my friend’s wedding at 4 pm.

The day started off with a colleague asking me: “Do you have 5 minutes?” Of course, “5 minutes” is never really 5 minutes in these cases, but it is Christmas and I fought back the urge to sigh and just roll my eyes.

Then I rushed to a hurriedly called 1:30 meeting in Makati. I comforted myself—vainly, it turned out—with the thought that I could leave at 2:30 and probably be just a little bit late for the wedding. No dice. The meeting started at 2:30, and at 3:15 I excused myself to go to the wedding.

Getting out of Makati was like… well, you know exactly what it’s like. Thankfully, the rest of the trip to Batangas went relatively smoothly, with only light traffic on the highway, and in just under two hours I was at the Lipa Cathedral. I was still buttoning my jusi barong when I breezed into the cathedral, sneaking in unnoticed because everyone’s attention was on the couple and the different groups of relatives and friends waiting dutifully for their turn to have their picture taken with the couple.

I stood at the entrance of the church so that my friend could see me as he exited the church with his bride. He was surprised, and grabbed my arm, saying that he thought I wouldn’t come because he didn’t see me at the start of the mass. “Nah,” I replied with a smile. “I just got caught in a little traffic.”

I stood outside the church in the dusk and waved goodbye as the bridal car passed by. Then I walked across the street to have a quick meal at KFC before going back to Manila. I chose a seat facing the window, and through the glass I could see two little boys playing outside with a Spider-man action figure. Malnourished, dingy, slipper-less, and having a great time. Every now and then they would look longingly at the people in the restaurant—at the food they were eating, actually—and then get back to playing.

I suddenly felt like the little boy who kept on complaining that he didn’t have any new shoes until he saw another boy who had no feet. I finished my salad, put my Chicken Strips meal back in its box and handed it over to the two boys when I stepped out of the restaurant.

I felt like a great weight had been lifted from my chest, and I actually enjoyed the long drive back home in spite of the ***holes behind me who drove with their lights set to bright all the time.


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