Letter no. 14: Extraordinary Measures
There are moments in our lives when we are caught by some extraordinary moments with some ordinary strangers; and you learn from them, and you wouldn’t forget it until there’s life. Sunday morning, I went to church, I asked God, I got home, I met a stranger, and my queries were answered.
And I saw him coming from afar. I just arrived home from church that day. From where I was, I knew that he needs something to fill his hunger or even more than that. It was 11:00 in the morning and the sun was up. Looking tired and helpless, he approached me with frustrations in his eyes. His sticky brownish hair looked smuggled from behind and his lips were tucked closed. He was wearing a black wide shirt with holes of unprecedented struggle, without anything underneath. From the way he looked at me, I could feel how my heart melt due to sudden strike of pity. And from how he stood, I could sense his need.
Without any word, I pulled out the empty can from his hand. I tapped my pocket thrice and some coins noised in high pitch. When he smiled, I knew he wants those coins. For a moment, an idea came to me. “I’ll give this to you, if you would get inside my house and share your story.” I started with a smile. “I would fill your can with a peso coin for every sentence that you would say” I continued. I just love to collect stories from people of different walks and get lessons out of it. The boy nodded to an agreement but he never uttered any word.
I accompanied him inside the house, led him to the chair where he shyly sat. I gave him water and I let him eat what I had on the table. I even cooked some more- fried egg and several cups of garlic rice. He wasn’t that aggressive like those other wandering street children I’ve seen before. His head was just bowed. He didn’t even touch anything in the house. His eyes were just focused on the table. I joined him eating to show my humility, well aside from the the fact that I was really starving at that same time. I noticed that he was just silent. He never complimented nor complained. I turned the television on but he didn’t care at all, so I turned it off after a while. “Are you okay?”, I asked. And he just moved his head up and down, probably to say that he’s fine.
After we’re done with our meals, he slowly put the empty can on the table. I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started talking in a friendly low-tone manner. “So what is you name buddy?” No answer came out from him. His sad eyes were just nailed on the ripe mangoes on top of the ref. I thought probably he’s still hungry and want those. I asked another question. “Are you from here? Where are your parents?”. Things we would normally ask if we see street children. Still no answers. His eyes were still focused on the ripe mangoes. “Okay, I’ll give you those mangoes if you would speak.” I smiled to him. He just nodded and smiled back finally. I thought from then I was getting his heart.
I asked another question. “How old are you?”. His head moved from side to side. I thought he just didn’t know how old he really was or probably he wouldn’t wanna tell or it was just inapropriate for me to ask that question. “You mean you don’t know?”, I followed up with a smile. He nodded.
I drained the coins in my pocket and put it on the table. “You haven’t said any word yet so how would I give you these coins?” Well even if he don’t say any word, I would for sure give him some. I would just wanna know his story and if he insisted to tell, it’s fine with me. There was silence long before I noticed him getting something inside the pocket of his shirt. I noticed that it was a piece of crumpled paper. he slowly opened the paper and showed it to me. And I saw the frustration and frown on his face. I read what’s in the paper. it looked like a handwriting of someone, surely not his. It said, “Ako po si Ivan, humihingi lang po ng baryang pangkain. Isa po akong pipi at walang maayos na pandinig. Maysakit po ang nanay. Salamat po.” (I am Ivan, begging for some coins to buy food. I am mute and deaf and my mother is sick at home. Thank you for your kindness).
I never knew all along that he couldn’t speak, and the fact that he tried to answer by gestures, I knew he’s such a nice child. I couldn’t describe how I was touched with that encounter with Ivan. I consider it the most extraoridinary interview I have done, no words, just pure feelings. It’s such a reminder that even if we don’t see God, and we have a lot of questions, the answers are for us, ouselves, to find out, with the guidance of others. I found that moment a metaphor, something I wouldn’t forget. I wanted to cry but I stayed calm. I immediately put all the coins in his can and his eyes twinkled in happiness. I knew from there that his prayers were answered, the same as my questions to him were answered. I put all the mangoes in a used bag. I gave it to him and he hugged the bag tightly. I accompanied him outside the gate, he walked slowly as I followed him. He would look back from time to time, like telling me go on with him. He headed where he left of- the church. And he carefully sat down on the stairs. I watched him for sometime and when I realized he needs a time alone, I turned back and headed home.
As I left him in the church, on my way home, a simple message played in my head.
For the life that has gotten more complicated these days,
For the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer,
For the polluted city and the wars raging worse.
leaving the innocents’ mind without a trace.
For those who were left off in this fast paced place,
To you are my kindness and to God are my prayers.
To all whose questions were left unanswered, this song is for you.
If you got the message and are Michael enough to break the question mark, then share your thoughts of the above letter and be featured as the next response letter. Just send your letters to email@example.com and be yourself read by others who have probably got the same thoughts.
RESPONSE LETTER FORMAT:
Click the link