Sunday, January 30, 2011

starting this new year brave

on the second week of this month, it was i think a monday, after the end of my shift, i decided to drop by the mall. there was this vegetarian food stall in the mall's fast food center and i was craving for some good chinese style of  vegetarian cooking. i was rather hungry. the stall offered what they referred to as a "value meal". it consists of a cup of rice and two viands plus a glass of iced tea. the serving is generous and i guess one order can actually be shared by two but you have to buy an extra serving of rice.
as i was waiting by the counter for my order to be served, i glanced across the expanse of the fast food center. there were many food stalls offering a variety of dishes. one stall offers all-filipino cooking, another has all-seafood; one offers potato based foods and the store was aptly named "potato madness"; the one where i'm buying food from is all-vegetarian; another stall offers grilled-only dishes; there was a stall that caters beer only; and  a lot of others offering pizzas, pastas, gourmet sandwiches, fried chicken, etc.

it's already about 11 am and a good number of people were already eating. probably, many of these folks were also coming from a night shift like me. anyway, i believe all of us were there to seek nourishment for our bodies. i've been a daytime worker once and personally i've noticed there's a lot of difference working at night. the body somehow responds differently.

i was about halfway through my eating when my eyes chanced upon this lady sitting across me. she was about five tables from mine. there was something peculiar about this lady. she was casually dressed. her long black hair was knotted in a bun at the back of her head. in front of  her was a big tote bag. i noticed there's another smaller cloth bag slung over her right shoulder and which she pressed beneath her armpit. what called my attention was the way her eyes darted from table to table especially those tables which sat more than one person. occasionally, she would glance at the food stalls and with her eyes follow the people who have already been served their orders and who were now bringing those food to their respective tables. she just sat there silently looking.

i finished my food. my stomach felt so full i decided to stay for awhile to rest. i kept the lady at the corners of my eyes. i carefully espied on her. the group of students three tables by my left side had finished eating and departed. immediately, the lady across me stood up and went to the students' table. she stood over the table eyeing the leftover food. then, she quietly sat down and started gathering the remnants of the viands on the plates. she opened her shoulder bag and pulled out several small plastic bags. she spooned the leftover viands into separate plastic bags. she gathered the leftover rice as well. she securely knotted the open ends of  the plastic bags to close them. all of these she placed inside her big tote bag.

i thought to myself, "well, this woman is enterprising indeed. this is better than buying food for her pets. she'd be able to save a  lot."  i lingered for a while and watched her more. i don't know if she knew i was looking at her but i don't think she minds me. she is too preoccupied. so every time she sees a group leaving after dining, she immediately visits their table and gathers the leftovers, rice and all. but she does not just merely spoon over the food. she picks on those leftovers carefully. she discards the bones, the mixed up sauces, the chewed up food. pretty soon her big tote bag was bulging.  by this time, it's nearing twelve noon, lunch hour, and people were now pouring in into the fast food center. i decided i had better leave.

before i left, i took another last glance at the lady. and i got a big surprise at what i saw.  she stood up and proceeded to another just vacated table. she looked around. she cautiously sat down. she picked up a paper towel and wiped the fork and spoon in front of her with it. then she started eating the leftover food. she picked up the bowl of fish soup, i think, and spooned the remaining soup into her mouth. she gathered the leftover rice from the other plates on the table into a sufficient mound on a single plate. she ate heartily. she carefully forked over bits, tidbits, and remnants of meat, veggies, etc. into her plate. she poured the left over sauces on top of the rice. i know i was not the only one who saw her. i believe even the food center's busboy had noticed her. but she is not minding us. when she finished eating. she gathered all of the leftover soda into a single glass and drank. then, obviously satisfied, she stood up, slung her bulging tote bag on her left shoulder and marched unashamedly towards the exit.

i stood there thinking. those food in her bag.

they are not for her pets.
i tried to justify why she did this. maybe she got laid off from work. maybe her husband left her and the kids and food got scarce. maybe she is nuts. there were lots of maybe's i thought of. then i remembered there is this saying, "desperate times call for desperate measures."

i believe in Life, one has to be brave, then be creative, if one has to live especially in times desperate.

the lady, she is just being brave. and being creative.


Christopher Dos Santos said...

Namaste my brother, your blog brings tears to my eyes. I doubt very much she was bringing food for her pets. I am very pleased you remarked as such later in the blog. I truly believe she was collecting food either for her children or elderly parents.

It is a sad world when such grace goes unnoticed. If I had seen her I would have knelt in front of her beauty and given her all in my possession.

You are a wonderful man my brother to again notice and appreciate the splendor of her life.

In Lak' ech, my brother, we serve at the feet of her grandeur...

Anonymous said...

Interesting your text and it forces a reflexion on the reality of the world, I liked the conclusion to your post ! :)


sito saguid said...

thank you brothers for visiting. it's really saddening to see this. i went back several times at the mall's fast food center but i never chanced upon her again. maybe the mall guards were able to see her doing her thing. that's why whenever i see people at that mall buying lots of food which is more than they can eat, i can't help but heave a sigh. but i am confident that lady will survive, will surmount her difficulties.