Cracked heels, sun-burnt skin, worn-out top siders and sweat-drenched clothes made Sally a frequent subject of her neighbors’ compassion, if not, gossip.
Day in, day out, she pushed her crumbling cart filled with eight 5-gallon containers of potable water and distributed them to houses for 5 pesos each. This task looked deceptively easy, but in reality, it was not.
To reach the water well from Sally’s area, one had to trace a 10-kilometer jagged, hilly road beside a wasteland. She had to go through this arduous trip carrying 80 gallons of water to District 2, where there were plenty of houses in need of drinkable water, and plenty of money to earn for her family to spend. She had to augment her husband’s meager income working as a security guard in a Chinese restaurant selling sumptuous siopao.
On weekdays, Sally had to wake up earlier than DZRH’s morning news aired at 5AM. She would iron her kids’ uniforms and buy them breakfast – pan de sal and coffee, chocolate drinks if she got some extra money. Despite her hectic schedule, Sally remained energetic. She could never regret having all her children.
Orange,the eldest, just got first honors in her previous high school giving hope and pride to the family. Apple, the second, reaped second honors in the nearby public elementary school even without reading her books religiously. Peach, the third one, is the prettiest daughter – a number of deep-pocketed princes would surely want her. Kiwi, the fourth, is a mysterious lass who taught herself how to read. Sany, the fifth, has adorably inquisitive eyes that always seek answers to ‘why’. Nicole, the sixth, is the family’s favorite- everyone’s enduring source of entertainment.
Sally was later known in this dumpsite district as the jolliest water-bearer with golden children – not because she would trade her daughters for gold. She just told everyone that her children were her only treasure.
One day, one of her smart daughters approached her.
“Mom, I’d like to go with you,” Apple started, smiling.
“The well is very far, really, you’d better stay here,” Sally replied, hiding her embarrassment.
“It’s alright, Mom. I want to earn some money,” Apple winked.
“Okay. But you’re just going to get 10% of our earnings per cart. Let’s go,” said Sally hurriedly.
“Yehey! Coming,mom!” Apple, delighted.
What started as Apple’s curiosity became her pastime. With the money she got from helping her mom, she bought as many anime cards as she could get. Her towering collection of cards made her friends envious. Maybe it was foolish of her to enjoy her playmates’ admiration and indulge her anime cards obsession. She was blithely unconcerned of her mother’s plight.
Money makes you popular among your fellow kids – if you just know which cool things to get. I should never run out of money. These were Apple’s ambitious thoughts before she fell asleep.