I've often said that this is my second life. I nearly died several times, usually in scenarios regarding bodies of water and how my body is mysteriously quasi-buoyant. I emerged from the seven foot swimming pool via the strong arms of my Legolas look-alike female classmate and said my first words in my second life: P*TANG INA MO!!!
Now, I can honestly say this is my third life. My second life died today on board a jeep from Quiapo. It was a weird series of events that in one way or another led to my near death.
I went to UP today to see what courses I can apply for. Afterwards, we went to Trinity where Carlo, my friend, studies. He went with me because he too was interested in greener shores. In this case, they were maroon.
Afterwards, we went to UST only to find out that they don't sign temporary copies of grades anymore and that I was going to have to go back in a few days. But enough with that. I really don't want to bore you with the details of my life. Let's get to the juicy parts.
I was with Carlo and we had to go to Quiapo because there weren't any rideable rides to go home. We stopped to get a couple of DVDs. I bought In Good Company, and two Cannes movies: Clean and Nobody Knows. I was really excited to go home and watch them.
It was about five-ish. The sky was a bit dark and we couldn't find a ride home yet again. I had fifteen pesos in my pocket and about 1,300 in my wallet. It takes twenty pesos to ride an FX to City Hall. About ten pesos will do the same on a jeep. I didn't want to break a hundred pesos because they start to vanish after that. I decided to ride a jeep instead. I found a jeep with about one person inside. I thanked my lucky stars and got in.
So here's how we were seated. The guy was in the extreme left of the jeep and was smoking a cigarette. Carlo sat on the extreme right. I sat beside him. In a few moments, two seedy looking guys boarded the jeep.
"Why are you smoking here?" asked the first guy. "Don't you know that's illegal?"
I looked at the first guy thinking he must be out of his mind. His next statements proved my theory.
"You want me to shoot you, huh?" he said in a manner only Sassy Girl could outdo. The guy apologized and threw his cigarette. "You wanna see my gun?" he asked. I sat nervously in my seat.
"You" he called me. "Give me your cellphone." My clammy hands shook as I reached deep down in my pockets. "You want me to shoot you?" he asked.
"Can I at least get my SIMs?" I asked, referring to my dual SIM attachment (Globe and Sun).
He mumbled incoherently, turning down my request. My hands shook as I handed him my blue 3315. I know what you’re thinking. All this trouble for a 3315? Well, yeah considering I'm not really in a financial position to be losing and switching phones.
There was a second guy and he was a bit nicer. Call it "good cop, bad cop". I just call it plain luck. By this time, Carlo had depleted all financial resources and barely had twenty pesos in his green native coin purse. I remember him telling me earlier how quickly money passed through his fingers and how he spent so much money without even knowing it. The second guy took his eighteen pesos and made peace. The first guy wanted his phone, too.
"Are you sure? It's only a 5110." Carlo replied.
"I don't care. Just give me your f*cking phone." He answered.
"Let me get my SIM card" Carlo said. I was surprised how calm and controlled he was. I glanced at the black revolver that he had brought out just to scare us. I remember thinking it looked like a replica but I really wasn't in any position to challenge the gun's authenticity.
It's a live gun. I've never seen a live gun before, except for those handguns and machine guns that you see in banks. I doubt if they were loaded.
"Just leave him be." The second guy said as he stepped out the jeep. The first guy, probably not wanting to be left behind, did the same. I had lost my phone and Carlo lost all his money.
Right now, I'm not angry. I'm not even scared of Quiapo, although, I am a little bit scared of jeeps. A number of things crossed my mind. What if I hadn't bought the DVDs? What if I didn't look for an empty jeep? What if I didn't go to UST today? What if I bought more stuff? What if I spent the extra money on an FX ride home? What if? What if?
You may start to cringe in front of your computer screens right now. I know what I'm saying is really cheesy. But I'm really glad I'm typing this down in front of the laptop and not lying in a cold morgue slab or in a hospital with Carlo. I'm glad I'm not mourning the loss of that same friend and I guess I never tell him enough but I'm glad he's in my life. When I was at gunpoint, all I could think about was all I was leaving behind. My CD collection, my DVD collection, my assortment of micro mini vintage shirts, my kids at Sunday School, my family, my house, my dreams, my life. Everyone, every single person here in Friendster... All that I've met and all that I would've never had the chance to. All that could vanish in just one second, one tiny flicker of the trigger.
I could've died today. I take comfort in the fact that I have faith in God and He's always looking out for me. Maybe this happened for a reason. I once asked Him for something that'll make me alive. Something that'll make my faith stay with Him this time. Something that won't make me lean on my own understanding. I guess He answered my prayer. On the ride home, there were a number of songs on the radio that made me want to smile. I like to believe He put them there to make me smile. Turn Back Time, Karma, and When It's Over... All these songs made me smile. It's true that turning back time has crossed my mind. What if this is just karmic retribution for all the sh*t I've done? I guess I really needn't bother explaining.
However cliché it sounds, me and Carlo both agree that life really is beautiful. Whenever you take a puff out of that cigarette or sip your overpriced coffee, be thankful that you aren't starving or dying somewhere. In one moment, everything you know, everything you live for could be gone. Are you ready to leave everything behind?
I wondered what could've happened to the people I leave behind. I wasn't worried about where I was going. I knew my roots are planted safely in Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he shall make your paths straight. I'm not really sure where that passage is in the Bible but I know it by heart. These are the words that keep me sane now. It's these words that I hold liable for my sanity. I'm not bouncing off of these walls. In fact, I even watched a couple of DVDs. God even calmed me. He made me feel so relieved that I'm alive that I don't really think that much of my missing phone.
For the record, I'm okay. I'm perfectly fine. This seems to be the question' everyone's been asking and at varying degrees of persistence. My God is a great God. Isn't that great (but ridiculously out of character for a dark, young writer like me!)?
On the way home, I saw a couple of women huddling over a dying cat. Carlo said it was just like in the movies when after a big event, something symbolic appears on the screen. I could've died today and I'm glad I'm not. Makes you feel kinda special, doesn't it?