On dad took an extra effort to narrate

On a certain
evening, in a dimly cramped room, my seven-year old self still quite remembers
that hazy memory in which the three of us are peacefully lying on the same bed.
I was half-asleep, but I can still remember my mother snoring, and my father trying
his hard to stay conscious at that moment, just to diligently tap my butt to make
me fall asleep. Usually, mom was the one who used to stay awake the longest
among the three of us, but I guess at that night she was just so tired from
work that she immediately dozed herself to sleep.

That
night, my dad took an extra effort to narrate a story, entitled “A Village on
the Road”, which really left a great impression in my life. It was a story about
a town which was greatly suffering from extreme poverty. One day, three wealthy
men were journeying in a convoy on the same road and found themselves
witnessing this calamity. The first man cannot bear to witness this desperate
situation, so he gave all his golds and jewels to the people, and then immediately
left. The second man, on the other hand, paused for a while then gave the people
an equal share of food and water that would probably last for some time, since
he thought that it would be much beneficial for them to receive those kinds of
goods than the material ones, and so he also left. The third man however, only dashed
and travelled straight along the path while just taking notice of the poverty. The
other two men saw this from afar and judged him on how he showed lack of
compassion and charity. They thought that it was good that they were there to
help the villagers, feeling so proud of themselves. Howbeit, three days later,
from the opposite direction, they saw the third wealthy man travelling back to
the village, carrying in his convoy some farming tools, and sacks of grains and
seeds, instead of the golds and treasures that their convoy had been carrying earlier.
He was there to help the village OUT of poverty.

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Upon
hearing the story from my dad, I said to him that there was nothing really
wrong with the two wealthy men trying to help the villagers with some treasures
or some food and water, because the villagers also needed them, and that the
only bad thing they’ve done was to judge the third men without knowing his
intentions. My dad agreed with me, however, he also claimed that some “generous”
people only try to give so that others can see how much they are giving, and so
that they can feel that good about themselves. There is nothing wrong with wanting
to feel good about helping others, but feeling good just because of the praises
or recognition, he said, is very foolish and selfish. He also said that, in
helping other people, one must be disciplined enough to think objectively about
how he could genuinely give his best to improve the situation and lives of
those whom he is trying to help, just like how the third wealthy man critically
thought hard enough to change the condition of the villagers.

                After having some realizations
about the story, he told me to close my eyes, clasp my hands, and put them
together on the top of my chest. He told me to feel my heartbeat. He told me to
empty myself from other thoughts, and he told me to breathe and feel the wind
running through my nostrils. Finally, he said, “Anak, sa pagtanda mo, mas
marami ka pang paghihirap na mapagdadaanan. Gusto kitang maging sobrang
matatag, madisiplina’t, maresponsable sa mga gagawin mo. Dahil sa rami ng mga
masasakit at mahihirap na nangyayari sa mundo, wag na wag mong kalimutang tumulong
sa iba. As much as possible, wag mo na ipahalata. Basta disiplinahin mo yung
sarili mong di ka magpapadala sa sakim at sa mga papuri, at siguraduhin mong
maganda yung mga intensyon mo. Palagi mong pakiramdaman puso mo.”

                Those were not the exact words,
but just some of what I’ve remembered he told me that night. I admire my dad so
much. His profound sense of justice and his great self-discipline deeply
influenced and molded me into someone who wants to have that kind of meaningful
life.

                However, despite of wanting to
have that kind of meaningful life, I am guilty of not telling him this.  That I’ve already grown into a person who is
very insecure about herself, and who has always been procrastinating and
feeling worthless, gradually losing a sense of self-discipline. That I’ve
already up to some mischievous and useless acts that don’t make me any better. That
I’ve already been struggling to interact socially, let alone reach out to help
other people who are suffering. That he’s already got an eighteen-year old
daughter who is a failure and who can’t live up with his expectations, without
his knowing.

                Whenever I feel down and useless,
I repeat the same act over and over again-  closing my eyes and clasping my hands above my
chest to feel my heartbeat. But something has changed, because when I do that, my
thoughts already turned way too different than before. “I don’t want to live,
but I can’t also kill myself either, which is why I will just do my best to
help other people stay alive so that they can also live for me.” I know that
this is probably more foolish than trying to help other people with the
intentions of getting praises or recognition. That’s why it was better when I
was seven. I was better when I was seven. 

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