Manila, December 13, 2013
“Manila International Airport, terminal 2, please!”
“Yes, Ma’am. And My name is William.”
After 4 days in noise-polluted Manila, I am ready to head home for some quiet down-time.
“What’s X’mas lane, William?”, ask I looking at the traffic police officer standing on the road side with a blue and white signboard written “X’mas Lane”.
“December is a bad month for traffic, Ma’am. Everyday there is broadcast on TV about X’mas lanes to help ease the traffic in various areas.”
Hmmm…. I wish they do the same in KL during Ramadan. I almost missed my flight due to traffic jam during the last Ramadan.
“So William, are you ready for X’mas?”
“No Ma’am. I have three kids and I really don’t know how to get them gifts this X’mas. It is in our tradition to give gifts to friends and families. That’s why everyone is out shopping even though they have no money.”
“So how’s your life now compared to 5 years ago?”
“Worse! Prices keep rising, yet my income stays unchanged. I’m struggling to feed my family at the moment.”
“What are you gonna do about that then?”
“Lots of people leave, looking for work abroad. I would if I could. Unfortunately, I cannot leave my wife and kids behind. Lots of families get broken and separated because of this.”
William makes me recall the Filipina I met at Gemini station in Rome 2 months ago. Her life story goes just the way this taxi driver remarks.
“So if you have one wish today, what would it be?”
“A simple life with my family, Ma’am.”
“Isn’t your life simple enough at the moment, William?”
“I don’t know if I can make it through everyday. It’s bills, bills, bills, and we have no peace. A fortune-teller told me that 2014 will be better.”
When I reach 45 next year, he said that my fate would change and my life would be brighter.”, said he with a broad smile, all ready to board his next flight to a peaceful, care-free, simple yet joyful future.
Sometimes, that is all we ever need, just the bare neccessity to lead a simple life. In the spirit of X’mas, I hope 2014 is a better year for you too, William!