not this summer

With summer beating down the sanity in me, I decided to launch a countermeasure and save myself: I bathed promptly, donned something appropriate for the scorching day so I could vamoose to the nearby mall and get my fix of ice cold cake milk tea.

With summer beating down the sanity in me and before departing the house, Brother approached me for an extra-allowance on top of what my elder sister usually purveys him daily for his summer classes. The helpless countenance, the rhetoric explanation of unexpected expenses in school won over the currently jobless person in me – that with no hint of doubt, I extracted the scrawny wallet from my pocket and handed him some bills. Brother happy.

With summer beating down the sanity me, I strode, under the protection of my green umbrella, toward the gate of the subdivision where tricycles (a Philippine public transportation) bound for the national highway rank for passengers. Many blocks, several turns, sweat dripping from my forehead down the temples made me wish for a miracle. Heaven listened: a Good Samaritan residing in the same subdivision witnessed my sorry state and offered a ride to the national highway.

With summer beating down the sanity in me, I alighted the jeepney (another Philippine public transportation) and raced against the hurrying crowd, snaking past them toward the entrance of the mall. Among the crowd, an old woman, more or less in her forties, was stopped by a girl, almost in her teens, bereft of any hint of innocence, in shabby clothes, with dishevelled hair, and who was barefooted. Obviously, the girl was after some alms and was very persistent to get what she needed. Her defiance to the no’s of the old woman was very apparent to the point that she seemed more of extorting than of begging. The old woman, losing her ground, finally gave in to what seemed to be her perpetrator. After receiving some coins, the girl gyrated toward her peers, flaunting her plunder.

With summer beating down the sanity in me, I stood in front of the counter, waiting for the cashier to find her luck after several tries: Francis, Frank, Fernando, etc. I grinned and interrupted her litany, “Facundo, my name is Facundo.” The other lady at the counter smiled and corrected the erring colleague. “Si Sir Ferdinand ‘yan!” (He is Sir Ferdinand!) The cashier assisting me smiled and apologized, albeit I found no reason for the apologies since the name-guessing was really fun. Moreover, their efforts to remember the names of loyal customers are already appreciation worthy despite the mistakes. Finally, I got my cake milk tea, ice cold and with extra cake cream, splashing down my throat, quenching my thirst.

Going home, I plunged myself in the jeepney, of course by the driver’s seat. Mechanically, I handed the fare, eight pesos to be exact, which the driver received promptly and shoot in a plastic box beneath the windshield.

Halfway the journey, the driver blurted something about a national news as if uncomfortable with the silence between us: “Mabuti na-delay yung bitay ni Mary Jane,” (It’s good that Mary Jane’s execution got delayed). I nodded.

“Hindi naman kasi niya alam na may drugs yung bagahe niya, e,” (She didn’t know that her luggage was secretly loaded with illegal drugs). Another nod from me and then I fell oblivious to his words.

Usually, when a driver initiates a discourse I would try my best to keep up even if it’s just feigning interest on my part only to prevent myself from offending the person and appearing rude. But not this time. Not this time. I stopped nodding and little by little his words became incomprehensible. What was certain though was he halted from his attempt to lure me into a social-political exchange. He retreated to his driving; I to myself.

So we sat in silence, perhaps, both realizing that not all can be won, alleviated, succeeded in. Not this summer. Not while it beats the sanity in us. Not while it stands and everything that goes with it despite temporary relief provided by short talks, cold beverages, fun days on the beach, or just by mere endurance.

And we’re just only halfway through it.

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