A Grasshopper That Wasn’t

486772_4893510367844_2141503980BPhnom Penh, Cambodia

It was hot, scorching making an omelette hot when she walked in wearing a winter jacket. Granted it felt refrigerated in the tiny chapel and even though, the air was blasting, she wasn’t feeling it as her face looked sultry, red from the sweat.

Anguish pierced through her face as she was acting strange, walking mercifully slow like a grasshopper, going through the motions mechanically like a mummy.

Dragging like a methodic robot commanded from afar, never cracking a smile, she took her time getting to the chair. Never quivering, strolling like a walking dead, always looking up straight at whatever infinite, she looked desponded, stoic.

I wondered what was pestering her as she kneeled close to me but quickly set that aside as we were in church, praying, venerating God, was what we were there for.

We stayed a while, I doing the rosary with the rest of the peeps and she continuously looking beyond, piercing the altar to the Holy Sacrament, as if looking for some kind of validation, a solution to her suffering that never came.

None of us at the time had an answer for her but many disposed of a tool that could bring her some peace and comfort, prayers.

The rosary was over and she was still looking confused and dazed. Reflecting.

I stood up to leave but she stayed put. She did not blink but I needed to leave. She was looking down, mummified, her face ambiguous, fatigued transmitting through.

I wanted to hug her but was scared out of my wits to even try, witless she would shove me off and pull my back against the wall. Still standing, bewildered, a bit perturbed yet intrigued.

I was still wondering about the broken being, when I heard convulsive hurried sounds to realize they were… sniffles. I looked down and there she was shaking, moaning quietly, unengineered tear drops genuinely pouring down her face in avalanche and she impotent to wipe them off. They were coming from a place of discomfort, hurt and she needed not to utter it to me, I felt it. I figure this much, as tears put it all in perspective. Without uninvited details, I knew something was heavy and planting its seed and, there wasn’t a thing I could do.

I left the church that day, troubled, insects cocooning through my brain, disappointed I did not reach out to her. I hoped she found comfort in the prayers and healed her heart. I have been there. I know how it feels and how life stories can incredibly creep up on you, make a salad out of you and you are too exhausted to even sneeze.

It is never easy to mend a troubled heart but one can conquer wonders with the grace of the Almighty. I hope she is somewhere today, looking straight at the infinite, smiling at the skies and counting her blessings just because someone was listening that day and not judging her grieving soul.


Sunday is, Their Day Off!

As the story goes, I hopped on a taxi in Hong Kong and I asked the non speaking english driver to take me to Victoria Peek but once I arrived, I thought it was a little off, the driver perhaps had made a mistake and I was ready to cry foul.

The location he took me to resemble nothing like the pictures I had seen of Victoria Peek. I didn’t see a train going up the mountains. I didn’t see the mountains and I didn’t see the tourists. Yeah, there were lots of people, too many women I could count but nothing else.
Frustrated, I walked around the park searching for a speaking English soul to no avail. Most didn’t speak the language, even though the island used to be a British colony, which was surprising to me as I expected a good percentage to do so.

After a few minutes, I run into these two ladies who kindly explained to me where I was, Victoria Park. Go figure! They also indicated that I would need to catch bus X to X location and walk a few feet to Victoria Peek. The trip was long, well at least it appear to be at the time only because I had no idea where I was going.

I totally looked lost.

I approached a few ladies on board I heard speaking English and quickly struck a conversation with them. One indicated that she was heading in that direction and I just had to follow her. For all I know she could be taking me to Timbuktu but I wouldn’t know it. I was attached to the hips to her.

I exited the bus and as I walked through towards the location, passing under the HSBC building, I came across the most interesting phenomenon I ever seen or experienced in my life, hoards of women gathering around, chatting, mingling, reading, exercising, dancing, playing games, you name it…

I learned they were Philippine women working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong mostly for high salaries and proximity to their country, out enjoying their one and only day off, Sunday.

The fascinating part is that most prefer to camp under the HSCB building or at Victoria Park or other streets just to socialize then use the day for other things. It was interesting. I never seen it before and was taken aback by the phenomenon but apparently, it is an “old” event and it was me, who was a virgin on the subject. Guess what? No more!