“You seem to be in a good mood.”
The booming voice was owned by another kumpare who walked behind his male carabao. He was probably looking for patches of grass to feed his animal.
“Someone learned a lesson the hard way,” I replied, recalling the young man’s grimace.
As if on cue, the animal stopped on its tracks, feeding on fresh grass by the side of the path.
“You can let your carabao graze in the orchard. Just tend to it so it won’t damage the calamansi trees.”
“That’s a wonderful idea,” he agreed. “There’s not much grass near our place.”
The appearance of beast and master introduced to my mind the solution to my early morning problems: how to clear the grasses, how not to get stung and how to drive away the snakes. The carabao could enter the area and do part of my task.
“By the way, have you seen those two children who passed by this morning?”
“Alan’s kids? Why?”
“We had a small misunderstanding earlier. I just want it corrected.”
“I saw them going the other way around. I wondered why they took the long way instead of this road.”
“Do you not think I am handsome?” I asked all of a sudden.
My kumpare was taken aback by the surprising segue. He was of two minds whether to lie a little or tell the painful truth. He also glanced at his animal which could be an indirect victim if his reply did not sound convincing enough.
“I am not a woman so I am not the right person to ask,” he replied, not looking at me straight. “Besides, beauty is only skin deep.”
He sounded like a pageant contestant, answering a pointed question with a general answer, even citing a popular adage that’s very pleasant to one’s ears.
“You think I am not attractive, then?”
He looked exasperated with my questions, that telling the real score might hurt my feelings.
“You are handsome, man,” he said finally. “But …”
“I cannot speak for the others. They could have their own opinion.”
The carabao belted out a loud noise. We were not sure if it understood what we were talking about. Or, it gave a signal to cut our conversation short so it could proceed with its grazing.
Without missing a beat, I stated my own interpretation.
“Your animal seem to disagree.”