The Last Free Ride

Mid-morning of one rainy December day, I was on the bus, on my way home to Manila. I was having a tough time fighting my tears back. The TV program on board was a Filipino movie, – about family, father and son, hating and forgiving, God – totally dramatic and whose goal was solely to squeeze your tear ducts. Of course, I love movies as powerful, as touching, as sensible as that. As dramatic, but not when I’m on a public vehicle, “Goodness gracious!”

I was sitting in the front row, by the window, my vision gazing through the window glass trying hard to ignore the raindrops banging against the glass. They were good at teasing my eyes so I had to look away, tilt my head up, and hold the tears there at the edge of my lower lids.

And just when I succeeded, having brought my head down to face the window glass again, I saw through it such…disturbing sight – a truck, a canter maybe, loaded with more than a dozen cows stamped with big blue numbers, some on their belly sides, some on the upper part of their hind legs. Maybe half of them were facing me, their noses tied to the metal poles enclosing the canter’s car.

Their faces told of acceptance, their eyes of fear. It was weird enough to heed they were actually looking at me. But it was far more disturbing to realize that for a moment or two, there seemed to be a connection – unwanted, untold, automatic, and necessary.

The serenity on their faces betrayed by the fears in their eyes, that I had to see. Death was nearing and becoming inevitable as the wheels ran meter after meter along the asphalt roads of SLEX. And acceptance was a requirement. It suddenly saddened me as the story of a cow’s life came playing in my head. They live without another choice than what people had doomed their lives for. Milk, cheese, death. And then beef.

Creatures deprived of freedom like a clan of aliens long sentenced to perish for having trespassed another world. If sharks could be hammerheads, those cows on the canter were soon to be “hammered heads”.

Now, I’m trying to recall if I’ve seen a cow with happy eyes. *Snort* Most males were mad, most females were snobs, and baby cows were usually at play but not necessarily happy. Or how would I really know? But their looks, I bet, come in unison once they receive their big blue number stamps.

And sooner or later, the baby cows would discover what they are for. Their destiny decided, agreed on; their future told, death scheduled.

From a human perspective, their struggles might have been cut short. Planning and worrying about the future are not necessary. Making money is not a problem. Making a living is not a thing to deal with every single day. Zendagi migzara, life goes on, with only whatever is available, until the hammer’s concluding blow.

Then, as my bus finally took over the canter, I had this reply to the cows’ parting message. At the end of your free ride, you will find your purpose. We humans, have our endless roads to go. So please don’t make me feel guilty. Taco’s my favorite.

And once again, I had to tilt my head up and hold them steady. Weird.

The Last Free Ride

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