I could be imagining things but I believed people kept staring at me. Why?
For a second, I laughed at the remark the driver gave me earlier. Then, I realized he was talking about himself, how being handsome could scare people away. Or was being conceited his major problem?
Nope. I never considered myself handsome. If that was true, women would be knocking at my door. The only females who visited me were either ambulant vendors or those four-legged kinds.
I checked my pants if inadvertently I forgot to zip my fly. I had hilarious episodes before when such small detail became my undoing.
Grateful that my fear had no basis, I went on purchasing items I needed. Like-minded individuals roamed around, busy like myself, eager to finish their shopping before the dark clouds on the horizon decided to unleash the rains.
It was the mother and her children again. That was how small the town center was, people would bump to each other whether they liked it or not.
I needed to ask her what was the matter, why they left me in a state of confusion. Okay, I would not want to scare her even more. Following them around could be counterproductive: I did not want to be called a stalker.
I stopped in front of a store. The glass window could reveal something I might not have considered so far. I enumerated inside my head all the factors that bothered me ever since I rode the jeepney.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder. Only an acquaintance would do that. Many people did not know it but I was a bit edgy in places far away from the safe confines of my home.
“Are you lost?” he asked, his eyebrows raised when I turned around to face him.
“Why did you say that?” I asked, noting he was the tricycle driver I used to hire when I needed a quick ride.
“Check your shirt, man.”
Horrors! He was right. In a hurry, I did not check myself in the mirror. I wore my shirt inside out. That was probably why people kept staring at me.
“Bad morning, eh?” he continued, his squinting eyes showed only humor.
“Are you going home?” I asked, arguing with myself if I would take off my shirt on the spot and correct my mistake. “I need a ride home.”
“Sorry, man. I am still third in line.”
Throwing all those modesty rules out in the window, I took my shirt off in one motion and wore it back as quickly as possible.
“Ma, he’s whiter!”
I was absolutely sure: the voice was owned by a small boy.
When I sought the origin of the remark, I saw them again: the three was transfixed at where they stood.
I did not know what has gotten into me but the only thing that crossed my mind was the simplest reason I could think of to erase whatever inference they had about me.
“I am a farmer, that’s why.”