By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
I heard a thud, and then a woman screaming. A man crawls unsteadily holding his back with one hand. The dead coconut tree just fell and hit him on his back. More people gathered to help him. The driver of a parked tricycle offered to give him a ride to the hospital. Others insisted to call the barangay office. First to respond was from Teachers Village West. The vehicle, a cross between a tricycle and a jeepney can accommodate four people including the driver. There were already four people inside it, and no room for the victim
“Ano po nangyari, saan po naaksidente?” (What happened, where is the accident?)
“Nalaglag po yung puno sa likod niya.” (The coconut tree fell on his back.)
The ones in the responding vehicle rushed to him, and someone from the vehicle said something.
“Ay, sakop na po ng Sikatuna Village ang punong niyog. Tumawag po kayo sa Barangay Sikatuna.” (Oh, the coconut tree is within the jurisdiction of Sikatuna Village. Please call Barangay Sikatuna.)
Then, they sped off.
Since the buko (young coconut) he was selling came from Madasalin Street, Teachers Village East, the source of his products also called the barangay office. The barangay responded, surveyed the intersection, glanced at the victim for a second and concluded the same thing.
“Sakop na po ng Barangay Sikatuna ang pangyayari.” (It is the jurisdiction of Barangay Sikatuna.)
Watching the victim writhe in pain, the tricycle driver insisted that he be the one to bring him to the hospital, but the tricycle is not allowed to travel, he has no quarantine pass and could not locate his mask.
“Tawagan ang barangay Sikatuna!” (Call Barangay Sikatuna!)
I do not know what happened to that call, because I realized I had no mask and had to get back to the house.
When I got back, the tricycle driver was visibly irked.
“Sabi ko sa inyo ako na magdadala. Isakay na ninyo siya, ang bagal kumilos ng mga putang inang mga barangay na yan! Bahala na kung hulihin ako!” (I told you I will bring him to the hospital. Carry him inside the vehicle, these barangay people are slow to act! Let them arrest me!)
I had to get back to the house again because I remembered the eggplant I was grilling. I turned off the stove and went back to the scene. The victim was gone, and so is the tricycle. The people had dispersed.
I pushed the coconut trunk with my foot and found that it was light, the inside was somehow pulverized. It was not as heavy as I thought, but the impact from where it dropped could be lethal. Hit on a different angle, he could have been paralyzed.
The next day, I saw him pushing his cart full of young coconuts.
“Magaling na po ba kayo? Bakit di kayo magpahinga?” (Are you well? Why don’t you rest?)
“Masakit pa po likod ko, pero kailangan kong kumita. Apat po anak ko.” (My back is still painful, but I have to earn. I have four children.)”
He pulled up his mask, pushed past me, into intersections where jurisdictions are clearly defined and designed to operate independently from each other.
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