Dami lahi. Dami lengguahe. Dami kulay. Iisa sakripisyo.

I was waiting for the guards to call me para makaakyat ako sa office ng aming customer na nasa 12th floor. The building is high, matindi ang security at sa lobby pa lang ay maiimpress ka na. I was sitting down for already 30 minutes when the guard called and informed me that I have to wait for another 30 minutes since my contact person is still in a meeting according to his secretary. Yes, dito sa bansang ito ay usong uso ang secretary, mga lalaki nga lang. Mapapansin mo rito kapag ang amo ay hindi Amerikano, o British, o Japanese o Chinese, at isama mo na ang Pinoy, tiyak na me secretary iyan. Meron pa ngang isang particular na lahi dito na bigyan mo lang ng mesa at upuan, manager na ang palagay sa sarili, amo na. Maguutos na ng maguutos iyan. Dito kasi ang concept ng pagiging manager ay amo.. wala nang gagawin kundi magutos.

Well, I told myself better have chaii (milk tea sa pinas, ngayon lang nauuso, at ang mamahal pa, e dito eversince ay 1 riyal lang) and a croissant, di rin lang ako nagbbreakfast pa. Before I got to the concessionary sa lobby, I noticed 2 Indian men. Mga mid 50’s na sa tingin, na nagpapahinga sa lounge intended for patrons ng concessionary. Apparently, these two indians ay nagdeliver ng office supplies at pagod na pagod na naupo muna roon. The cashier shouted at them to leave, “you no sit there, you no buy here, so no sitting down.” The irony is that the cashier is also an Indian. Kalakaran na kasi sa kanila na pag medyo nakakataas ang position ay maninigaw na (of course me exception naman). E pakiramdam nung cashier-shopkeeper ay napakataas na niya doon sa dalawa.

Tinanong ko ang cashier-shopkeeper what would make them allowed to sit, because they looked so tired. Sagot niya, “they buy me here, they sit.” I did not know what drove me to do it, but immediately, I ordered for 3 chaii and 3 croissants, and I called the two indians, and told them to get the chaii and the croissant. They were so happy, and I sat down with them while partaking the coffee and the croissant.

Nagkuwento na ang isa. Helper daw sila sa isang office supplies trading company, sumasahod ng 800 riyals which is equivalent to 10,000 rupees. One has 4 children while the other has 3. Mahirap daw ang buhay sa kanila, and both are working here for 12 years already.

I was thinking, here are two old men, nagtitiis na malayo sa pamilya. Nagtitiis ng init, ng lamig, para lang mabuhay ang pamilya. Iyong isa ay graduate daw ng Engineering Technician, ewan kung ano iyon, ganun kasi mga Indian, 2 years course ay Engineer na, me subject lang na Chemistry ay Chemist na. The other is 3rd year high school. Maayos daw naman ang accommodation nila at pagkain (dito kasi walang problema sa pagkain basta di ka pihikan). Ang ikinalulungkot lang nila nga ay lumaki ang anak nila, na di nila nakasama. Iyong isa ay 3rd year college na ang panganay, while iyong isa ay 4th year high school pa lang. At tulad ng nakararami na nagtatrabaho dito, both dream of going home for good once na napagtapos na nila ang kanilang mga anak.

Pilit ang tawa nila sa akin at nakikita ko ang lungkot na tulad ng nararamdaman ko sa kanila. Nagpasalamat sila ng todo ng umalis.

By the way, the older one is 48 years old, while the younger one is 46 years. Mukha lang silang matanda dahil sa hirap na dinaranas nila sa paghahanapbuhay, sa paninirahan sa ibang bansa, sa pangungulila sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay.

Different race. Different nationality. Pero iisa pangarap. Iisa ang pagsasakripisyo.

—-00000—-

“In dreams we do so many things, We set aside the rules we know. And fly the world so high. In great and shining rings. In the real world
There are things that we can’t change. And endings come to us. In ways that we can’t rearrange.” (Roy Orbison)

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