Monday, January 31, 2011

the alcoholic

he was holding a bottle of tanduay, his third for the day.
as if the lady was reading my mind, she said 'his name is paula. a homeless guy.' i later knew that the town has adopted him.

he was living in the marketplace. he gallivants the streets everyday or as he puts it, RAMPA ARAW ARAW. he did not have a house in particular, the community comprising of stores for different variety of goods served as his home. owners of the stores were kind enough to give him food, clothes and the company he needs. this day he'd stay at aleng nene's, next day he'd stay at mang aldo, with no assignment of home in particular.

i saw him hosting a mini- contest for the kids. he dolled them all up with make up, had them showcase their talents and answer beauty pageant questions. the kids were all pretty. they were all excited to have their pictures taken using my phone after my friend jen gave each of them a hair makeover (braid, crown-like hairstyle or whathaveyou.)

we got to talk with him heart to heart later that night. manang was telling us that paula was just in his drama mode out of the influence of alcohol. but my friend and i knew better. we never asked him to talk, yet paula started confiding on us, tears drooling down his eyes.
he was talking about his frustrations, about the fact that people judge him because of his appearance. he talked about a beauty pageant he never got to win, about his friends who would gossip about him. he was continuously crying. we asked if he is aware that he is an alcoholic, and he answered with a quick yes. he said he really want to stop it, but a day without tanduay would make him quiver in pain.

he is ugly, he is black, those words keep ringing in his head everyday. words most people tell him, hurtful words which makes him cry as he looks at himself in the mirror at times. from time to time, he said, he will hear discouraging statements from people, friends alike.

i cannot fathom how he is affected with stares being thrown at him because of his color. people may call it over reacting but we felt the pain and saw it in his eyes. we told him to just let those people be, to prove them wrong, to show them that he can accomplish things he wants to, that he can one day go back to teaching then quit drinking altogether after seeking professional help. we knew it was easier said than done. having the weak- heart that he has, he succumbs to some people's belittling statements then look for another way to get another bottle of tanduay.

paula was funny. manang told us that he oftentimes cracks jokes, dances and does his walk like he is a ramp model, making the street as his catwalk. people would sometimes hand him coins, which he will then collect so he could satisfy his thirst for alcohol.

i would always have this 'do your thing and let the others do the talking attitude,' but that night, i was made aware that some people don't cope with things that way, words being thrown at them will sort of stay in their entity like a permanent stain in a shirt. they will come across people who would belittle them, look them up from head to toe, but weak-hearted people like paula will never have the courage to confront them, hiding all the disappointments in their own closets, especially with the lack of people to talk sensibly with.

paula may have wished that people would think first before saying a word. paula knows so well that there are words that could break someone's confidence, let alone trigger someone to lose their sanity. paula may have wished that people would cease from doubting someone's capacity due to race and physical appearance. paula may have wished that people would stop pre- judging.
he was holding a bottle of tanduay, his third for the day. this encounter moved me, and i guess it's worth to share.

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