October 21, 2009, past 8am.
I took the non-air conditioned bus to work, because the two-peso variance from riding air conditioned bus is still two pesos. Thirty thousand monthly house amortization nagged at the back of my head, throbbed like an open wound. Dalawang piso rin ito. And I much prefer the slightly polluted Makati breeze than artificial cold air.
So there I was, alone on a three-seater, God of Small Things perched on my palms.
[As I typed the last sentence, I imagined God perched on my palms, waving his cute hands.]
At 8:29, two boys entered the bus. Their clothes grubby, cheeks concaved. I figured they probably worked for the Sindicate. The older one carried a makeshift bongos; he slumped at the two-stepped stair near the bus entrance… and drummed away a la Bob Marley. The younger one dragged himself to each and every bus seat, distributing white envelopes creased… At the back of the envelope was a message, which read:
Maawa na po kayo sa mga Badjao.”
That time I was at my second to the last page of Chapter 1, the part where Arundhati was giving us a glimpse of Sophie Mol’s murder. I was on the verge of crying… but not for Sophie Mol or Estha or Rahel. The boys, oh, the boys rattled, confronted my fictional reverie.
But my empathy is useless. It can’t wipe out this inhumane phenomenon.
I felt all the more helpless. Hey, Jude.