Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I came upon the scene of a terrible accident on the way home from a college friend's birthday celebration in Quezon City just now. I wasn't feeling up to attending her birthday in the first place. It was out of the way, it's too far, too late, and I wasn't really up to looking for that obscure restaurant in a place I rarely visit. Much less during the night. I was one the second to the last guest to arrive and I usually hate arriving late if only to avoid the constant staring that greets those coming through the door. Good thing there were only a few of them at the table, it was an intimate affair consisting of old and new friends of hers. And I would have missed it if I gave in to an earlier debate in my head if I should be attending it or not (if I didn't I would then be subjected to weeks of guilt trips and who wants that, right?). A good time was still had by all, saw new artworks by one of my friends who was finally allowed to indulge himself in doing graphic designs. Coming from a traditional Chinese-Filipino family he was initially allowed a full year to work on his art right after graduation but was forced to work for the family business right after that. I think it's great he hasn't lost his touch in creating graphic designs.

The accident happened not far from where I rode the bus in EDSA. I was seated near the window watching the road thinking of nothing in particular, when the bus stopped. When we heard the bus driver say, "patay na nasagasaan" ("a victim was ran over dead") almost all the passengers on the opposite side of the bus immediately stood up to catch a glimpse of the victim lying on the road. There was another passenger bus ahead of us and they were obviously gawking the scene. Another bus was parked by the side of the road in front of the gas station where the accident had happened, its rear lights flashing. There was also a truck parked by the side of that bus and a yellow road cone bearing the seal of the gas station. The victim was lying face down on the road with a jacket draped over him, I think, by the man kneeling before him. The man wasn't dead as he would raise his head every once in a while in response to the man talking to him. Why is it that we have this morbid fascination for staring at accident victims? We were there for what? Maybe around five minutes or so not doing anything, just staring. I was thinking to myself that we were wasting time here at least somebody should have called an ambulance. By and by the bus in front of us moved and started going on its way. While our bus slowly moved to take its place on the same spot to look at the victim as close as possible. I got a good look at him as we sped away and what it is I saw put a knot in my stomach imagining the incredible pain the man must be going through (don't read further if you're squeamish): his left leg was bent at the knee but the joint where his right leg is connected to his hip was so broken it was positioned in a 90° split away from his other leg while part of his intestines came through his ripped pants. There were people by the sidelines, probably remnants of the passengers of the bus that ran him over. They just stared. One of the passengers in our bus went down quickly. Hopefully to be able to help in some way.

The other bus passengers were quieter than they were before. Usually the bus driver, conductor, and some of the passengers would be engaged in small talk discussing theories about how it happened. Not this time. They all seemed pensive. The emotional turmoil aside, I started to ponder on how close we all are to the edge of eternity every second of every minute of every day. I looked at the people walking at the sidewalks and those waiting for their ride home and then I wonder if we're all honestly ready to meet God if something does happen? What if something does happen like a bus running at top speed suddenly loses its brakes and plows through the stalls or the people waiting for their rides at the sidewalks, or what if a strong earthquake unexpectedly happens, splitting the ground in swallowing people in its gaping maw... can we then say we're ready to face death? It's not a matter of doing enough good deeds to merit heaven because deep in our hearts we're never sure how much is enough. That the only way to not fear death is to humbly and sincerely accept the one Person that matters in the whole world, Jesus. The same Person whose name and invitation we trample on without a care in the world. Most of the time our fault lies in the fact that we know what we should do but keep putting it off in favor of something else. When will we ever learn that it ultimately wouldn't matter after everything's said and done?

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