For the assistance, he invited me for a snack. Out here, we never decline if it was deserved and most especially if it’s free. 🙂
His smile did not leave his face since we walked away from the canal. It would seem he was familiar with me. On the contrary, I failed to associate his features to any name I registered to memory.
“You live near the highway, don’t you?” he asked, trying to confirm his first impression. “I have seen you several times before.”
That was strange. Almost everyone that passed by the road outside my fence was recognizable to me.
“When was the last time you passed. I am sure I will remember.”
“Two day ago,” he replied, thanking the store owner for two bottles of soda and two small packs of biscuits. “You stood up and stared at me.”
“What time?” I asked, accepting my share. “What were you wearing?”
“Morning, I rode my carabao,” he explained. “You were squinting, obviously because sunlight was on your face.”
His description of the event was hazy. For the day in question, if my memory served me right, five men passed by riding carabaos, all before lunch.
“You have to be more specific,” I said, munching my second biscuit.
He laughed, figuring out how to say something he was told about me.
“Some people tell me that you’re a snob.”
I nearly choked when I heard that derogatory term, coughing several times before I drank a shot from the bottle.
“I am not!” I exclaimed. “Who told you that?”
“It’s not important,” he tried to appease me. “I know they’re wrong. You proved that today.”
I was perplexed why some people saw me that way. I needed an explanation to correct my dealings with others.
“Did they tell you why?”
“At first, I believed them. I smiled at you when I passed by but you were too serious. I don’t know why. All you have to do was smile back.”
“I don’t smile a lot, especially if I could not recognize who it was. I learned my lesson for smiling at the wrong person at the wrong time. The last time was a disaster. It turned out the woman was angry at someone else. Because of what I did, her anger was transferred to me.”
“Did you recognize me now, that I passed by that day?” he asked, finishing off the contents of the bottle.
“No,” I said truthfully. “But that’s partly my fault I guess.”
“Why is that?” It was his turn to be curious.
There were times I would not elaborate about some of my shortcomings, especially about the physical side of me. In a way, he was still a stranger who should not be privy of my personal information.
But I made an exception. I wanted the ‘snob’ description scratched out from being associated with my person.
“I look serious most of the time because I have difficulty recognizing people twenty feet or more from me. All I see is a figure of the face.”
“You saw me but you didn’t actually see me.”
“My fault,” I admitted. “I don’t wear glasses outside. You understand, don’t you?”
“Of course,” he said laughing, taking out his own pair from a shirt pocket. “I don’t like to look old, too.”