“I am already late, Ninong. Please bring my assignment to school.”
Thanks to my misplaced suspicion, I presented myself a task I should not have been bothered with. I should have listened to my inner voice telling me to give the boy the benefit of the doubt: his usual antics should not earn him a notorious tag.
It was not just a mistake, it was the MISTAKE!
Even though grasshoppers hopped around in the orchard in large numbers, catching one taxed my patience. If you have observed chickens running after them in the yard, you could imagine me doing the same thing in the orchard but clumsier. I just hoped no one passed by the road or else I might be noticed and get reported for strange behavior.
An hour later, success. I finally caught one, that luckily hopped inside my shirt. The tickling sensation forced my hand to feel for it through a small opening at the hem which at the same time nearly provided the grasshopper an escape route.
Another hour passed when I finally achieved my goal. However, walking toward the school, I felt silly having inside one of my pockets a matchbox with two grasshoppers. I just kept reminding myself that they were for a good cause.
“I just wish to bring this to my godchild in Grade V.” I smiled amiably at the guard.
Instead of a warm greeting, he inspected me with trepidation. He eyed my long knife placed in a wooden scabbard with its belt string attached to my waist. I did not look harmless at all.
Silently, I blamed myself for appearing that way. I did not waste time to change my working clothes because I knew the show and tell presentation was to be held after recess.
“Sir, unauthorized people without proper identification is not allowed to enter,” the uniformed personnel paraphrased the message of the sign board nailed on the wall of his cubicle. He was shorter than I am but his authority deserved respect.
“I don’t need to enter,” I explained slowly. “I need this be given to him. It’s part of his assignment.”
When the guard saw the matchbox, he was doubly alarmed. I believed, from the looks on his stern face, he thought of me as an undesirable influence to children, in short, the bad guy.
“I have to ask you to leave sir before I call the police.” His hand reached for his service phone.
“No need for that,” I argued, trying to stop him making the call. “If you want you can check the contents.”
Because of my irritation, I hoped the grasshoppers escape when he opened the matchbox so he would be obligated to catch them. A form of revenge really for his high-handedness toward me.
But then, I backtracked. “Use this plastic before you open it. You’ll see why.”
The guard was about to open it inside the plastic bag when a young voice interrupted.
“Ninong, you made it!”
“Do you know this man?” the guard looked surprised, then instantly he calmed down.
“Yes, sir,” my godchild confirmed. “He is the owner of this school.”