Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Forgotten

My name is Beatrice and I was born blind. I’ve never seen the sun rise, or a flower bloom. I’ve never seen the face of my mother, or even my husband.

I lived in a small hut with no rooms with all of my eight siblings. We never went to school. My father was a farmer, my mother a housewife. They never went to school either.

I’ve never blown a birthday cake when I was young, but I did taste the sweetness of candy once, when my sister brought me some. I was always left inside the house, while my siblings played outside.

When I was seventeen, a young man frequently came to our house, accompanying father. He smelled like the wind on a hot day, and his hands were rough and dry, but they were comforting. One day, he gave me a ring and asked for my hand in marriage.

I was pregnant with our child when my husband became ill. He couldn’t work anymore and we would often go hungry. My mother took me in once more, when my husband died.

A couple adopted my baby shortly after I gave birth to her. She was beautiful, my mother would always say. The couple would visit us often, she promised. But they never came back.

The years went by. My mother and father soon passed. My body had begun to weaken and my gnarled, wrinkled hands ached with pain.

“Clunk!” A sound of a coin being tossed to the can I held up. I am sprawled on the pavement, wondering if I would be able to eat today.

Post note: Our female group members had apprehensions picking a male beggar because they might get harrased so we decided on an old lady. Lola Beatrice is blind and she is from Capoocan, Leyte. She begs for change in the sidewalk near Everwell drugstore in downtown Tacloban. She is always accompanied by Lola Petra (about the same age) so we decided to take them both as our subjects.
Since the approval of our Christology Professor we have been regularly meeting Lola B and P every week. The initial reaction of a person would somewhere be between feeling "icky" and feeling pity. My female classmates were having second thoughts about our Christmas dinner plan with them, but I think it would really be a great thing. Next week, we'll check their vital signs (we'll do it ourselves since local barangay health units refuse to treat derelicts) and health status.
My heart really bleeds for Lola B- what a sad story, but we are here to be taught a lesson in community extension. I think it is wiser to focus on what the group can do- in making small but positive changes in their lives. I think this would be a holiday to remember. 12-18-2007


runawaycat said...

Really touching. Tsk. Sigh.

cant_u_read said...

this post tore me up a bit, thaddie. thanks for sharing this. and i hope you continue being a blessing to them. remember that the universe put you there for a reason.

Phoenix said...

@ runawaycat: I get a little misty myself whenever I think of them, but I'm sure God is watching over them..

@ cant_u_read: I've begun to appreciate the activity myself. I can't imagine what it is like being her when she related her life story.. It's a shock being suddenly exposed to the reality that these things still happen in our country. One reads about it and we see them on the streets- being in front of them and talking.. the impact on a person is great. Sad talaga, but we can do something about it.

mink said...

oh my goodness,
you and youre friends will have a nice place up there with the angels. Lola's story tore my heart...

kudos to you thad

Quentin X said...

There are so many people like lola Beatrice who have fallen through the cracks. So much so that she has become just another statistic. The challenge is to close the gap between the haves and the have nots through education of the future generation. Give them fish and they live for a day, teach them how to fish and they live for a lifetime.

Phoenix said...

@ quentin x: wise words! though for some of them it is too late, plus it is doubly hard for those people who never went to school or perhaps only finished up to the elementary level of education


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