Was washing my laundry manually earlier when I heard outside the faint melody of an unfamiliar rhythm. By my estimation, the sound was produced by crude instruments, most probably creations of someone who could not afford the genuine items.
I stood up, knee joints creaking due to the prolonged squatting position. Since I also needed a walking break to let blood circulation in my lower extremities flowed normally, the distraction was rather welcomed, although I already had an inkling on who could be my unseen visitors.
When December comes, many indigenous folks walked down from their mountain homes, trekked to the city proper and roamed the streets to ask people any Christmas donations. They had discovered that the tradition of giving was to their advantage.
What faced me was nearly a complete family, less a father who probably separated from them to go solo to another household.
The mother smiled while in her arms a baby slept. Her son, who played a tattered guitar, a relic from someone’s past, strummed it with gusto. Her daughter, on the other hand, rhythmically struck a homemade drum made from a large tin can, opened at the bottom, with a transparent plastic sheet on top held to the can by several rubber bands.
It was not their impromtu performance that knocked on my heart to show pity but their mere presence, perhaps tens of kilometers away from home, which encouraged me to go inside the house and looked for something to share. Before, I simply gave money and let them leave as they arrived: in silence. Later on though, I learned that they also needed the conversation, that short banter to alleviate whatever tiredness resided in their frail bodies.
They were probably new to the language of the lowlanders so I had difficulty communicating with the mother. What she did understand was the sight of water and bread which I handed to her children. I could feel her gratitude from the sincere smile on her face as she nodded repeatedly to display her approval.
Before they left, I gave them a medium-sized plastic bag. Inside were a few old clothes, rice and some canned goods. As a bonus, I gave the two children twenty pesos each: they were ecstatic.
Frankly, their visit made my day. They probably did not know it but I was happier going back to my laundry which was a chore I often hated. 😀