The young man gaped at the dry land. The fertile soil he had been working on for months dried up and cracked in just a few days of no rain. The sun danced in the sky, seemingly mocking his littered spirit.
Beads of sweat covered Sancho’s face. He thought pf Espe. Oh sweet Espe. She’s due this week. What will he tell her? And his unborn baby, his junior, what will he feed him? He cursed under his breath as he turned to leaved his measly peace of earth. He looked at the dirt road ahead. His home is five kilometers away beyond the Sagaba hills. He stopped at his tracks and thought of Espe again. He pictured her lovely and kind face, her sweet voice nagging him in the morning, and the baby she is carrying in her womb. She is almost perfect. No, I can’t let her down, Sancho thought.
He sat down on a piece of wood under the shade of a mango tree beside the dirt road. Its flower are already in bloom. He took a deep breath and savored the intoxicating scent of the summer blossom. I can’t go home now. I can’t face Espe.
“Why the somber face? It’s a beautiful summer morning!”
Sancho looked up and squinted when the sun hits his eyes. It took a while for his eyes to adjust as he looked at the man in front of him.
“Not now Alex. I’m not in the mood,” Sancho said.
“What’s the matter my friend?” Alex sanguinely said, seemingly oblivious of the heat.
“That’s the problem with you, Al. You refuse to look at a snake even if it bit you,” Sancho gruffly replied, “you can talk like that because you don’t have a family to feed. Look at my land and tell me where will I get the money I need to feed Espe and my child.”
“It happens you know…it happens. It’s God’s plan Sancho.”
“Is it God’s plan for me and my family to starve to death? So much for a plan,” Sancho said full of disdain. He reminded himself over and over why he and Al became best friends.
Alex has the most annoyingly jovial spirit. They went to the same high school but Sancho never knew him because he is two years younger than Alex. Until one day, Sancho was catching fish in the river when the current became turbulent and carried him along. Fortunately, Alex who is also known for his swimming prowess, was passing by and saw the helpless young man. After Alex saved him from drowning, Sancho made a vow to stick with him until he repaid him. Since then, Sancho had made a way to deal with Alex’s character.
“You know how mysteriously God works. We sometimes just have to look at the circumstances and learn what God is telling us,” Alex broke into Sancho’s thoughts.
“What are you now, a priest?”
“No, a prophet. I am a prophet of God,” Alex lightheartedly declared.
Sancho laughed sarcastically at his friend.
“You are delusional, you know that. How on earth did you became a ‘prophet of God’? Do you think that God will notice you, of all people?”
“St. Matthew was a tax collector. Jacob was a swindler. St. Paul was an executioner. What makes me any different?”
“Wait, hold on there. How do you know all this? Are you sick or what?”
Alex chuckled, “we’ve been friends for four years but there is still some things you don’t know about me.”
Sancho looked at the folded makahiya leaf in front of him.
“It’s going to rain this afternoon,” Alex said.
Sancho ignored Alex. He again realized his dilemma. He started thinking of people whom he could borrow money from. Maybe he can sell the worthless land and his carabao, and find somebody else’s land to till. He was desperate.
“If I stay in the middle of the highway in the bayan, and a ten-wheeler runs over me, will I die? What do you think?”
“You’re more insane than I am, Sancho. That’s pathetic.” Alex told his friend.
“Tell me what to do then! I have nothing, Al. My only treasure is my family, and I can;t even give them what they need! I am worthless, just like my land!”
Alex’s mood changed.
“You are better than that Sancho. I’ve seen you handle tough times and I know you are going to get through this. I’m telling you, it’s going to rain this afternoon. See, God is testing you. God is looking at how you will respond to this trial. Don’t give up now. You’ve fought for Espe. You’ve fought for your share of land. And you are telling me that you’re giving up now? That’s pathetic, I tell you.”
“I wanted to believe you, Al. But it’s easier said than done. I am less strong than everyone thinks I am.”
“I know. But you have to believe. At times we cry out to God and expect for something to happen. We fail to see that He has given us everything that we need. We just have to look for it and wait for God to tell us where we have erred.”
Sancho became furious.
“Where we have erred? Are you saying it’s our fault that it didn’t rain for weeks? Are you saying that God is punishing us? What about those rich brats in the bayan? Are you telling me that God is punishing us with such ordeal because we are more sinful than those people?”
“God is not punishing us because we have sinned; rather, He is showing us our inadequacy so that we would be able to overcome it and become better persons. It is up to you, my friend, if you let yourself get drowned in bitterness and angst or if you let go and let God toss you in His waves.”
Sancho calmed down and looked up at Alex who was leaning against the tree. He search for his eyes. His mind is full of questions but he was eager to listen. For the first time in four years, Alex actually made sense.
“What do you think is God trying to teach me then?”
“That, my friend, is a question you need to ask yourself. You alone can answer that because you know yourself better than anyone else.”
Sancho took a deep breath and looked at his parched land. He knows he made a lot of mistakes. He made his father furious when he married at a very young age. He thought he was able. He thought he was man enough to face the world. He realized that he is still a mere child. He began to long for his mother. She was always there whenever he had problems. But now he is on his own.
“Al, I know I made a lot of mistakes. I got married young. But marrying Espe wasn’t a mistake. Working my butt off for my family isn’t a mistake. And I will never regret it.”
“And now you have to face the consequences of your mistake. That is the path that you chose, and there is no turning back.”
“I know,Al. I need not sulk on what I don’t have. And I have to make the most of what I have.”
Sancho looked at the leaves of the mango tree. He thought for a while and uttered, “maybe I’ll just sell mangoes.”
Alex smiled. His friend has regained his will.
Just then, a drop of rain landed at Sancho’s land, and another, and another…it started to pour.
The two became preoccupied with their conversation that they didn’t realize that rain clouds had hung above them.
Both stayed underneath the mango tree and enjoyed listening to the music of the rain. Five kilometers away, beyond the Sagaba hills, the cry of a new-born infant resonated above the steady purr of the blissful shower.