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“I am no one”
“Yuck…who’s that dirty little boy?”
For the longest time I can remember, this is how most people greet me, either with their reproachful, mean glances or with their sharp, spiteful tongues, but I never really cared—all I care about is tomorrow, because nothing can change today.
This is my sanctuary—yes, the streets may be dangerous, but at least there are old, crumpled sheets of newspapers to make a bed every night, food scraps for trying to fill your stomach, and cardboard boxes to run to when the bitter cold rain comes pouring in…
As I walk through downtown, with my body limp and my calloused hand comforting my tantrum-throwing stomach, I try to remember the things that have been happening these past few years. Or were those ‘memories’ actually dreams--dreams that that are so insignificant in your life that you forget them as soon as you wake up and realized that you were in hell--a painful, downtrodden story that people call life?
Then, in one split second, the memories come flooding—no, pounding is a better word—through my mind.
I was being beat up again by my rabid, wild mother. It was like this almost everyday since I could walk and talk. To her, I always made mistakes…I was the one to blame for why Papa killed himself…I was the reason why our house was condemned and we had to move in to a squatter area. I was a curse to the family, and, like every curse in this world, I was to be avoided, taunted and mistreated. I can’t count how many blue-violet bruises and fractured bones were inflicted on me by her exploits. The neighbors called her ‘baliw’ or ‘lucaret’ behind her back. But to me, she was Mama. It would never change even if she broke my spine or even killed me.
“No, Mama, stop beating up Andoy!!!” a sweet, panicky voice called to me. It was my older sister, Yumi. I can remember her clearly—her dark-brown, bright eyes were the same as mine, but her skin was lighter, much paler than mine. The neighbors called her an ‘anak sa labas’, whatever that meant. I always pitied her when it was time for her beating, even though I got most of it, because the bruises seemed more violent, more vivid in her pale-white complexion.
Mama stopped hitting me and turned to Yumi, her eyes were flickering wildy—as though she was losing control of herself. Mama stood up, and picked up a rusty knife.
Something was telling me this wasn’t going to be a normal beating…
I couldn’t bear to open my eyes…
In a split second, there was one slash after the other, next came the smell of blood that twisted my stomach, filling my nostrils with the reeking scent of metal, salt and water mixed together. Then I flung open my eyes instinctively….
…only to realize that it wasn’t my blood, nor Mama’s…
…it was hers.
Yumi--my sun when thunder came roaring, my rain when everything was parched as bone.
After five years of running, fighting and regret, this is where I ended up—in the streets, stealing just to survive and live to see another worthless day. You never really had to hear my story, because you’d never understand…
Because unlike me, you’ve had a good life full of bliss.
Unlike me, you’ve never had to spend a rainy day on a soggy box.
Unlike me, you’ve never felt all hope seeping out of you so quickly.
I am a boy of the streets…
A broken link…
A slum dog…
A street rat.
I am no one.