Kids slinking between jeepneys and motorcycles scare you. After the incident with the kitchen knife, another kid stole something from you – a water bottle you refuse to give up.
He was about eight, topless, and probably underweight. His skin was tanned daily by the morning sun and matted by the city. He dashed inside your jeepney and headed straight for the water bottle stuck between your knees. His quick and nimble hand caught you off-guard but your instinct saved you and your hands darted for the container. You haven’t touched it. You got the water bottle from your mother’s sari-sari, in which constant supermarket shopping has sentenced her limp. That water bottle could be important, you thought, and you were going to be thirsty later on.
So you tugged the bottle back and forth, back and forth, and then the boy pleaded he was thisty. You could argue that he was lying and that the emptiness in his eyes gave him away, but instead you played an empty tug of war with a liar. And you felt it: that oppression that thieves make victims want to fight for their possession. It made you tug for the bottle even harder.