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This morning, you wore
your freshly starched
royal blue school uniform.
Under the morning sky
that’s hinting of a coming storm,
I carried your school bag.
Under its weight,
my shoulders ached and sagged.

I was barely awake.
At six-thirty am,
I was not in tip-top shape.
Just trying to pass off as human
in my faded blue jeans,
Adidas shirt and shoes,
I didn’t feel like a queen.
I tucked a loose hair
which defiantly escaped
my hastily done pony-tail.
But running against time,
I urged you onward
we had no minute to spare.
Appearances or not,
I just didn’t care.

A guy passed us by.
Riding in his car
with the windows down,
he had this look on his face.
Even from afar
I knew what it was,
and I frowned.
Adjusting his tie,
slightly mocking
even smirking,
he called out to me.
“Hey Babe,
do you want a ride?”
My cheeks went red.
Inflamed.
I wanted to lash out,
men like him are so lame.
I wanted to say,
the most demeaning things
that will make his ears sting!
But I kept quiet,
knowing you were beside me.
Mother hen and baby chick.
I let his comment slide by.
Silently, I let it fly.
Grinning lewdly
from his side mirror,
he drove on
looking like a pig —
a filthy boar!

I held your hand tightly,
until we reached the jeepney stop.
There a couple of guys lurked,
at the corner, lounging around.
They looked at me.
I felt it coming,
but I stood my ground.
Cocking their head,
they were staring
sideways, sneering.
I stood knowing,
waiting for them to crow.
And then one of them said,
“Hey pretty mama,
come on, come around.
You look so fine,
you wanna go on a date?
I wanna make you mine.”
The cliche of it,
made me want to puke.
My hand reached out
for my pepper spray,
as they burst out laughing.
One move more,
I was ready.
My hand squeezed yours,
reassuringly.
But the jeepney came,
thankfully.

I saw you look back at them,
pigtails and all, confused.
The morning sun came out,
shining down on your face,
eyes squinting, you asked.
“Mommy, why do they do that?”
A younger me, looking up
waiting for an answer ….
And I sighed, before I replied.
“You see my dear,
these men do not remember
their mothers and sisters,
wives and daughters,
aunts and grandmothers —
these women they love,
women who love them —
are just like you and me.
These men, you see,
are not thinking right.
They are not acting,
neither are their hearts beating
like decent and upright men.
They have callously forgotten
how to be human ….”
And I saw it then,
the sun burning
in your eyes.
I knew that look,
and I felt you tremble
as your little hand shook.

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Photo. hellogiggles.com

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