In preparation for the effects of the super storm in our locality, even if we are further away from its path of destruction, we still made ready food provisions if and when stocks become scarce. If experience should be taken into account, some unscrupulous traders hoard supplies to jack up prices.
Riding a passenger jeepney to the town center, a mother and her two children sat on the aisle across me. When I smiled at them, she freely smiled back. On the contrary, her children looked serious: I, being a stranger, was not considered familiar to earn their casual approval.
I learned to accept such cold treatments, especially from those who could not understand what I was saying. The language barrier was too constant a problem here that I had to learn several regional dialects to successfully blend in.
Surely, the children had no inkling that I understood them when they began to argue about me. Like I used to do, I wore my neutral face and pretended I was not paying attention at all.
“He’s dark,” the girl mumbled in Ilongo (a Visayan dialect). “Maybe he’s a foreigner.”
“If he’s a foreigner, why ride a jeep?” the boy, older and smarter, corrected her impression. “He could be a half-blood.”
“What is that?” she asked, nudging her mother who was probably half asleep during the ride.
“Sssh! You’d wake her up!” he admonished. “A half-blood is like a vampire.”
Frankly, I wanted to show them my fangs just for the heck of it. I controlled the urge to burst out laughing.
“No way!” she said. “How come he is awake in the morning. They said vampires are awake only at night.
“That’s why he is a half-blood,” he explained, scratching his head when he himself could not believe his logic. “Don’t look at him straight. He might give you a spell.”
How long could I take it was a matter of decision. I could simply talk in their dialect and prove once and for all I was as human as they were. But then, the mischievous side of me won. In a way, I would like to hear the conclusion of their argument.
“Only witches could put a spell on someone,” she eyed her brother with suspicion,
“Don’t you get it? A half-blood could do that too. He could fly if he wants to.”
“Why ride a jeepney? she asked, returning to him his earlier query. “Why spend money on fare?”
I was already smiling. Their discussion was going nowhere.
“Sorry for that.” the mother remarked, pulling the children closer to her. “Kids!”
“It’s all right,” I replied in Tagalog. “They have great imagination.”
“Oh, they’re not imagining things,” she said. “In our place, we experience a lot of unexplained phenomena.”
“I am talking about me, how they see me right now.”
She stared at me, inspecting my features as if her words would be enough to calm her children.
“So, what’s the verdict?” I asked.
She whispered to each of them, their eyes widening with surprise.
I had no idea what she told them but when they alighted at our last stop, they hastily walked away from me as if I was diseased.
“Don’t mind them,” the driver spoke behind my back. “They’re always afraid of handsome men.”
Well, he was probably telling the truth. 😀