This morning, I took my usual route.
On the first jeepney, when I took a few coins, I got disappointed to find out that I left my mobile phone at home. I forgot to slip it in my bag. Oh well, it seldom happens.
There is a Roman Catholic Church en route of the trip, which I regularly passed by. As a member of the said church (If you’re thinking that I’m a religious person, sorry but I happen to be not one) and as a sign of respect, I do the Sign of the Cross whenever I go by a church. After doing so, the old woman at the other end of the vehicle started to say something. I don’t know what it really was since her I couldn’t hear her clearly. That somewhat disturbed me.
I got off the jeep to take the next trip which is longer than the first one. The old woman also alighted at the same place. I didn’t walk by her side because at that time I don’t have an idea where she’ll be going.
I reached the loading and unloading area (I think the place is really a loading and unloading zone) and was kind of surprised when I saw her right beside me. She asked me regarding which jeepney should I take. The old woman recognized my school uniform, and she knows where the campus is. I then asked her where her destination is; she answered and said that she is going to Harrison Plaza.
I hailed a jeepney, the one that I should take, asked if it’ll reach Harrison Plaza. The driver said no, I changed my mind on taking that one. She asked why I didn’t get on it, I just smiled.
We waited a few moments and successfully found a jeep that we can both take.
As one of the passengers was about to get off the vehicle, the old woman asked, “Bayad ka na ba?” The woman answered yes and got off. Then the old woman talked to me and to the other passengers and said, “Naku! Maraming mga pasahero ang di nagbabayad ng pamasahe. May mga nakakasabay ako simple lang, text ng text tapos bababa na di pa bayad.” I just smiled at her as the other passengers stared at her.
The vehicle stopped as the red traffic light lit. A young man in tattered clothes got inside, cleaned our shoes with a dirty rag, and begged for money. When he faced the old woman, she told him “Wala akong pera, nilibre nga lang ako ng pamasahe eh.” I’m not sure about the first thing she said, but I’m pretty sure about the latter. When the young man disembarked, she turned to us again and said, “Mas mabuti na yan kaysa magnakaw sila.”
As I said, the trip was long, so she lightly slept. But she did opened her eyes when I was about to get off. She thanked me and bid goodbye. I smiled at her, uttered my usual “Take care”, and bid goodbye.
I’m not really sure what I felt when she started to talk to me, it was something awkward for me.
I guessed I’m just missing something, someone – my grandmother.
In her old age, my grandmother can still travel from Manila to Pangasinan alone. She even accompanies some of our relatives in the province to government establishments in Metro Manila. She always visits us whenever she can, and she does bring foods too.
That was when she was still alive. She died three years ago. I can still remember that I was very shocked when I saw her at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Her pitiful look that time made me wished that it’s better to see her serenely sleeping inside a coffin rather than to see her suffering in pain.
Rest in eternal peace, my dear lola.