“Here’s to a fresher start from a fresh start.”
If I could compare myself to a tree, I had been uprooted several times and replanted with some success, meaning I did not wither and die during the difficult process. I often thought that I was resilient enough to withstand the hardships that was necessary to adapt through the changes.
I had no complaints because no one decided for me. I went through it all with open eyes and broad mind.
There were marked differences with my new neighbors compared to those I left behind near the river bank. The latter group was more down to earth and was easier to deal with while the former, who I began to familiarize myself with, looked more aloof and full of themselves. Perhaps, they were more influenced by amenities like TV that their outlooks mirrored those they hear and see, from affluent people in other modern places.
Some of them was not privy to the fact that I was from the city. I was not too keen back then to bandy around my former life. Two years later, the traces in the mores of a city dweller was less and less pronounced, even covered by more rural mark.
One time, I heard a local relating his experience when he traveled to Manila. His listeners, who had not been lucky to see the place was awed by his seemingly knowledgeable depictions of city life.
I shut my mouth and became the silent observer. I noticed that indeed he looked the part: his clothes followed the style of the times, the sunglasses that completed the pretense, and the street lingo that was popular.
He boasted of seeing places not seen on TV, of happenings he joined that none in his audience had experienced, and other things that rural folks missed so far.
“I bet you visited the zoo,” I interrupted politely.
“Of course,” he bragged unashamedly. “I’ve seen the animals.”
“Did you see the stink badger?” I tested him.
He was taken aback, searching his memory for something that confused him. He could not answer.
“I saw one a month ago,” I confided. “By the river bank.”
“So? What’s that got to do with me?” he asked, perplexed.
“There are things city people do not see often like the badger; we see them. Not all great things are found in the city so those people visit the province.”
“I still don’t understand,” he was losing his patience.
“Yeah!” Everyone chorused.
“City life is great if you have a lot of money. You can do anything you want. Here, you can do different things for free, which in the city you have to pay for.”
“So, you’re saying that my city visit was not a big deal?”
“Will your life be incomplete if you had not visited at all?”
“No,” he admitted. “I spent what should have been my capital for my farm.”
“I think you understand now what I was driving at,” I said. “You made a wrong turn.”