City of Manila
Life in this world is like a battle, whether it's living like a dog or a beast. Lucky for those people who were born sitting in the chair of gold already. They don't need to participate in the battle when they already won. However, on my behalf, no need for resting and delaying, or else I will have no job in the future. Not only that, being a security guard in a nightclub is dangerous and shameful. The customers look down on people like us just because we can't fight back or else we will be terminated. Every company has a saying about "the customer is always right." It's unfair but what choice do I have when it's not easy to find a job these days.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
I saw a woman suddenly collapse right in front of the entrance where I'm positioned as a security guard.
"Get a hold of yourself."
The woman is so drunk that he can barely open her eyes. As a guard in that entrance or door, I'm not allowed to leave there depending on emergencies. I have no choice but to let the woman seated beside me not far from where I'm standing. I just placed an unfolded box if ever she will lie down.
My duty is from 5 pm until 5 am. I'm leaving because my duty has ended. The woman is still sleeping and I thought it would be bad for me if I just left her there. I called a taxi, brought the girl with me because I didn't know where to send her.
"Ahhh, what a day."
I arrived at my small apartment or to be precise a boarding house. I let the woman sleep in my bed while I'm preparing food to eat for breakfast before I go to sleep.
The woman is making a sound, it seems like she's having a dream. I was ignoring her but all of a sudden she shouted.
"WHERE AM I?"
I unintentionally sip my coffee even though it's too hot so suddenly that it burned my tongue.
"Hey---, hey---, relax, I didn't do anything wrong."
I stood up while explaining.
"Sorry, my boarding house is just small. I saw you last night very drunk that you couldn't wake yourself ---"
I told her what happened and how she came here. I told her firmly to make sure she'd believe what I said.
"By the way, eat first because you were so drunk last night and for sure your stomach is empty."
I know she's a bit confused and shy but I forced her to sit in front of the table even though it was just a small chair. How can I afford a bigger or nicer one anyway when my salary is just a regular rate?
"What is this?"
I was surprised when she asked about what kind of food I'm eating. I cooked soup noodles with moringa leaves on them.
"Why?" I confusedly asked.
"I don't know this food, sorry."
"Oh, I'm sorry, it's not a monthly wage today so for now I'm spending a little bit of money on food. Well, if you don't like this one I can buy it for you."
I get my wallet and see if I still have money.
"Hehe, not just the expensive food."
I smiled and was a bit embarrassed because I only have a few amounts of money.
"Coffee will be fine," she said.
I gave her coffee and she started talking. She said "thanks" for what I did to her and she stated why she ended up sober last night.
She said she was suffocated in her life and that's the reason why she let herself get drunk. She wanted to feel drunk so she could feel free from everything. She's not a good drinker so she couldn't control herself and wasted like that.
"Can I borrow your telephone?" She asked
"Sorry, I don't have that but I do have a mobile phone. I will just buy a load because I don't use my mobile phone all the time."
"But it can send a message?" She added
"I guess," I replied.
I handed her the phone and she's using it. Just for a sec, someone called.
"Yes, Mr. Han. I need to rest and leave you the rest of what to do. I will not be coming home for days and please don't find me, please I need time."
After it, she handed me my phone and continued sipping the coffee. She was looking around my small boarding house and asked me how much I rent this one monthly. She even asked if I could live here comfortably. A silly question but I answered her honestly.
"Are you happy?"
For instance, her question shocked me but of course, I already knew what to say. Perhaps, she's wondering why I kept smiling every time she asked me my current situation.
"Of course, I am. I may not live in a big house, eat delicious food, and live a luxurious lifestyle. I'm still enjoying my life right now, being able to eat, sleep and live is enough to love my life."
"Good for you."
That's what she said after the long words I've said, perhaps, she's not convinced.
"Loving life is not based on luxurious things you can enjoy. It's about accepting it happily and being thankful that despite everything, there is life to enjoy."
I just added more words because I felt like she was not happy with what I said.
"What are you doing today?" She asked
"I'll be sleeping and wake up at 2 in the afternoon to prepare for going to work."
She just kept nodding her head and after I ate and washed dishes I placed a small foam on the floor to sleep.
"You can use the bed if you want to sleep, I will sleep first."
The alarm made a sound and I woke up. I checked the time and it's already 2 in the afternoon. I wanted to call that woman but I forgot to ask her name.
I saw her sitting in the bed facing the window outside.
"My name is Diana by the way," she said.
"Sorry, my name is Jake."
"I know you haven't eaten so let me take you to a restaurant after I finish cooking here and the food I will be bringing in my work."
We are outside and chose a restaurant but she insisted she would be the one to choose where she will eat.
"Let's eat here." She said when we were in front of one of the popular restaurants in the city.
"Hmmmm," I didn't know what to say after she said she wanted to eat here. I feel a bit anxious seeing the customers inside and of course, I thought I was not qualified to be inside.
"Can I just wait outside?"
I shyly said it to her, wondering what to say or what to do.
"Why?" She arrogantly asked.
"Nothing, just want to be outside."
"Don't be ridiculous. This is just my way of thanking you for what you did to me. Don't worry, it will be me who will pay."
"Of course, I know. Seeing your appearance, these are the places suited to you but not to me, sorry."
She pulled me aside and said, "Just come already, okay?"
I forced myself to let go of my hand and refused to be inside.
"I told you I don't want to."
I said it loudly and unintentionally showed an irritated face.
"Sorry, but I need to go," I added.
"Don't be so prideful. You can't afford to be in this place if you'll just rely on your monthly salary. You should be thankful to me for inviting you here."
I don't like what she said but she was right.
"I know! Thank you!"
I left immediately and thought of going to a place to kill time while waiting for the hour of duty to come.
She shouted. Maybe her spoiled attitude was humiliated when I refused her offer. I just ignored her and continued walking away.
"So that's how rich people treat poor people," I said to myself and shook my head.
"What's your order, sir?"
I ended up staying in the street food stall and also liquor.
"Just give me one bottle of beer, please."
I ordered a beer while waiting for my duty to start at 5 pm.
"So you're here, you can just say it if this is the kind of place you wanted to be."
Diana said while catching her breath, maybe she was running to reach me. I called the waiter so that Diana could make an order for what to eat.
She ordered a lot and we started eating. I had no time to refuse her offer since she was running to catch me. She's eating but not very well, I can tell she disliked this kind of food that poor people used to eat.
"You should eat there in that restaurant."
She's really annoyed by what I did earlier.
"Okay," I replied with a smile.
When the time was almost 5 I called the waiter to plastic all the food because I'll bring it home. The food is too much and it will be a waste to leave it here.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"Placing the food to bring, isn't it obvious?"
"Come on, that's not what I meant."
She's starting to get mad again.
"Just leave the food here and let's order another later."
"What? Let's not waste the money you spent on it and we can save money because we can eat it until tomorrow morning."
I explained to her but she still can't understand me.
"Ah, you're annoying. Just do what you want."
She stood up and left. I then went to my duty to start working but when I arrived the manager called me.
"Sorry Jake, someone from the higher position terminated you and you can't work here anymore."
"But why sir?"
I couldn't help myself from crying after knowing that I lost my job.
"I didn't do anything wrong sir and why this?"
I began to beg.
"I made sure to work properly because I love my job very much. This is the only job I have and how can I live now? Paying bills, buying food, and my parents in the province relying on me? Please don't do this to me, sir."
I can feel the manager's sad face, sympathizing with my situation.
"Sorry, Jake, you know I'm also a worker here and orders from above can't be undone by me. I totally understand you but please understand me as well."
I understood the manager and he's right that he's also a worker. I just walked away with a sad face, ignoring the heavy rainfall soaking me. It feels very sad, thinking of things to do after now that I don't have a job.
I decided to drink liquor first before going home. I drank at least 5 bottles of beer and I can feel the surroundings turning around. I got drunk but not totally wasted and went back to my boarding house.
"You're still here?"
I saw Diana waiting outside the establishment and smiled at her.
"Let's go inside and eat the food you bought earlier."
"Are you drunk?" She asked
"Nope just sipped a beer," I replied
"Why did you just arrive now?"
I don't understand why she asked me that, as if she knew what was happening.
"What do you mean?"
I was confused about what was going on.
"I waited here for long. If you're fired from your work, you should be here early."
My mind went blank upon knowing that she knew. I don't know how but I can tell she did something.
"Were you responsible for losing my job?"
I'm mad but I still control myself not to.
"Yes," she confidently said.
"Because I'll offer you a better job."
I feel belittled and I feel embarrassed of myself being poor.
"How could you?!"
Tears started pouring into my eyes.
"Is that how rich people treat poor people? You'll take away their job whenever they want to? Can't you at least overlook what they will be feeling?"
I couldn't control myself anymore to be emotional.
"Because of what you did I feel like I cursed myself for being born poor. Because of it, I feel like poor people like us have no right to decide what to do."
I got very emotional because the beer influenced me to let my emotions flow like a river.
"Sorry, that's what I intended to do. I just thought you're a good person and should be rewarded with a better job. I thought of you to be trusted and should be in my company ----"
I didn't let her say more and got inside my boarding house.
"You don't belong here, leave!!"
"But please, hear me out."
I don't want to hear any words from here anymore. I locked the door and went to sleep.
"Go home, you're not welcome here because my house is filthy for a rich woman like you. I'm going to sleep now, goodnight."
I can hear her crying but I decided to ignore it. I feel betrayed.
"I won't leave her until you forgive me", she said.
I immediately fell asleep because I'm drunk.
"Ah, my head hurts."
I woke up because I felt hungry. I forgot to eat last night and upon checking the time it was already 2 in the morning. I suddenly remembered what if Diana was still outside the door. I opened the door and I found her sitting beside sleeping. She's crying while in her sleep. I'm still disappointed in her but I don't want to be rude. I didn't want to wake her up so I carried her inside to lay down in my bed.
"I'm sorry," she's talking in her sleep.
I'm back to my senses and I thought I said too much to her. I rubbed her hair and covered it with a blanket, and all of a sudden she hugged me.
"I'm really sorry. I like you because I haven't met a person who is not interested in my wealth and is abusive. I just did that without knowing you'd be hurt but what I was just thinking was to make sure you'd stay by my side. I feel safe when I'm with you and I feel like someone who really cared for me but not who I am."
I finally understand her situation and I can finally understand how sincere she was.
"Sorry as well and don't worry, I'm not mad at you anymore. Just sleep, for now, I will be here and will not leave you for sure."
I thought I saw a kid who was longing for someone to love her. I thought I saw a vulnerable kid who was just asking for someone to make her feel she's not alone.
"I love you," I said and kissed her on the forehead.
"I love you too and thank you," She smiles and I accompany her while she is sleeping and she hugs me tightly.