I know the world is a much harsher place than my cosseted upbringing allowed me to understand. But I can’t help but wonder if I wasn’t mollycoddled, would I have been led to walk thornier paths as a teenager?
Point in case, the 3 teenage girls who I encountered during a jeepney ride to the supermarket this morning. The first one looked about 15 years old and she was wearing an ensemble that Madonna during her younger years would have envied. A green spaghetti strap mini-dress which flutters dangerously close to revealing what color undies she was wearing with the steady whipping air that was buffeting the interior of the jeep. The dress also had rhinestones set around the neckline so low, barely covering her generous breasts out of place with her reed thin body. The full bust would have disconcerted me if it wasn’t painfully obvious that the girl was also around 6 months pregnant. A few yards from where she hailed the jeep, another 2 teenagers of the same age (one was wearing ridiculously large white plastic earrings, while the other carried a gold link bag that doesn’t match her green pants) joined us and turned out to be her acquaintances. I think it would be easier for me to just chronicle their discussion rather than explain it in my own words, so here goes:
Earrings Girl (EG): Oi! Puta! Tagal mong nawala ah!
Madonna Girl (MG): Ah, oo. (looks ashamed, surreptitiously glances at her stomach)
Bag Girl (BG): Sino ba may kagagawan nyan? Sino dyowa mo?
MG: Si Winston.
EG: Puta! Kaya pala di na rin pumapasok yung gago na yun. San kayo nakatira, dyan pa rin?
MG: Sa lola ko, sa __________.
BG: San ka papunta?
MG: Dyan sa SM.
BG: Manglalandi ka noh? (giggles from all 3)
MG: Tang ina, may papatol pa ba, tingnan mo nga, para kong lumunok ng basketbol.
EG: Marami naming sporty na mga gago dyan eh. (giggles again)
MG: Kayo ba? San lakad nyo?
BG: Sa libing nung klasmeyt namin.
BG: Si Edwin, yung nagigitara?
MG: Ay oo, bakit, ano nangyari?
EG: Nasaksak dyan sa may ________. Kabilang kosa.
MG: Puta! Nahuli yung sumaksak?
BG: Hindi pa, pero ang alam ko reresbakan nina Gerald yun. Humanda sila.
At this point, everyone inside the vehicle were already listening to the conversation. They regaled us with their assumptions how their Gerald will undertake the revenge plot, each one growing more violent than the other. Some of the more memorable ones were:
“Baka tulad nung dati, susunugin yung bahay.”
“Salpukan lang yan, sasabog na lang yan bigla sa kalye.”
“Mas okay nga kung ipa-capture tapos putulan ng b*yag. Tapos patayin.”
Thankfully, I had to go down and heard no more.
Inside my ivory tower, I felt… spared. But I also felt bothered and heavy-hearted. No wonder the world is so screwed up. Our children are growing in insipid and cruel neighborhoods, trying to find love from adolescent sex, and respect in ruthless gangs. More so, I feel very hypocritical worrying about it because haven’t done anything to arrest the devolution myself. I was horrified to realize that I almost don’t care about what I just heard, and if I didn’t write about it, I’ll even forget about it cum dinnertime.
Except maybe, some increasingly small part of me hasn’t been tainted by disillusionment yet and is fighting to remind me not to go the jaded way. I just needed to write this down because I need to remember this is not, at all, ideal. And if someday, after I have dealt with most of my personal muck, I can find a way to do something about it.
P.s. On a more confessional note:
I can’t help but feel a tiny part envious of them though. These girls, with the crap they’re dealing with so early in life, would be far much stronger than I ever would be. I was overprotected in youth, and what do I get now? An almost debilitating paralysis brought about by amazed disbelief that life can really suck in a world where princesses can lose their ivory towers, geniuses can be stumped for answers, heroes can lose to losers and people can feel alone even in the midst of a crowd.