Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Good Deeds Do Come Back

I remember watching a show in TV that featured a family living in a rectangular box that was no bigger than a coffin. A large plastic that hang over it served as its roof, the family’s sole protection from the harsh winds and biting cold brought on by the rains. Very sad. But what was even sadder was the sight of two very small children and a third on the way. The mother revealed that she gave birth to her second child in that box, and was most likely giving birth to her third in that very same place.

Flashback: Malate, Manila, 1997. Everyday, I’d see this family of four living along the bangketa, sharing one folding bed that has seen better days. Two grimy and unwashed young children ran around in the sidewalk stark naked. I remember watching the younger one amble towards the middle of the road to squat. Before I could start wondering what he was squatting for, he proceeded to defecate. There was no reaction from the parents. For them, it was part of the natural course of things.

It is a big enough tragedy that people have to live in these conditions, and knowing that there isn’t much that one can do except give the occasional dole-outs that really does nothing to improve their lot except fill their stomachs very briefly.

But the bigger tragedy is seeing children having to live and grow up in this way. It tears my guts out to see them living like animals and with all the ways of one. How would they ever develop self-value and -respect when they know only of a life that is no better than that of dogs that live by scavenging?

Indeed, it is very sad that poverty will always hound our country and people and that the end is nowhere in sight. Except perhaps for a lucky few who will manage to escape into a better life, these children are doomed to perpetuate this vicious cycle that started long before they were born.

I’m writing about this now hoping that maybe, each one of us in our own little way, could help even just one child struggle out of this quagmire of hopelessness. We need not expect any reward or recognition at the end. The satisfaction will come at knowing that we helped. At the end of the day, their triumph, whether spectacular or not, will also be our own. And who knows, that helping hand we’ve extended might just come back to us in most unexpected ways.

Take the story of one young doctor who worked in the slums of London a long time ago. I don’t really know if this story is true or not, and my recollection is kind of vague. But it generally went this way: the young doctor was summoned to assist in a very difficult delivery. He noticed how poor the family was, living in one dingy room with a dozen or so children. When the child was finally born, it was barely alive. To add to that, the baby had some sort of leg deformity that would make walking extremely difficult for him later in life. The doctor thought that he would be doing this baby a great favor if he’d simply leave it to die rather than let it enter a world that promised nothing but misery and hardship. But revive the baby he did.

That would have been the end of the story if not years later when his granddaughter had an accident requiring a delicate brain surgery. Only one surgeon could perform that specialized surgery, a deformed little man who bore the same name as that of the old doctor’s. This brilliant surgeon’s mother named him after the young doctor who gave him the life that he almost lost soon after his birth.

Tears filled the old doctor’s eyes. He remembered the scrawny little baby he almost gave up for dead years ago.

Yes, whether we expect it or not, good deeds do come back.

1 comment:

pau said...

the story of the doctor is sooo touching, *sniff*

life has a funny way of helping you out when you think everything's gone wrong and everytjing blows up in your face....