A Devoted Friend
KA ROMY: A LOYAL FRIEND, A RELIABLE FOLLOWER
Every mythical hero, whether portrayed in literature or even in comic platform, depicts a shadowy person behind the major escapade. He is everywhere, where the hero is. He is a constant figure of the main protagonist. The so called sidekick so to speak. A man Friday if you may. A confidant. A triggerman. A scapegoat even. Don Quixote has his Sancho Pancha, Batman has his Robin, the Greenhornet has his Kato. Without the perennial assistant, the hero is incomplete. Or to be frank about it, the heroism expected to be shown will find no glamorous projection without the other. Gastronomically, we have mami and siopao, or tokwa’t baboy.
Prison work is seldom a task to be conducted in a tandem. Either the worker has an officially assigned buddy or he goes to complete a task on his own. In my case, as a prison officer I needed somebody whom I can encourage to produce something to amuse us. No, I am not a sadist looking for someone to manipulate or a subject to laugh about. It is just that I have a penchant to express myself, usually something funny to somebody.
There were a lot of people who would gravitate to me because of the hilarious stories I would share. And one of these mainstays was Ka Romy. He would be there always at my side. Whether I was torn with a lot of challenges bordering on danger or plainly loafing around, he would always be there. He was that fellow however whom luxury would evade. Not that he is lazy. He has actually that audacious capacity to work. He was a prison guard by night, an itinerant vendor by day. He was street smart, one who derives education on the congested avenue of the metropolis. He would have graduated on top of the class had he persisted in his school work but he must have to earn and support his parents and sibling by doing one odd work after another. While in the elementary, he sells bread in the morning and in the afternoon, sells sweepstakes tickets and in the evening, hangs around as helper in the accessoria store of a relative. He got his formal education on interval basis and would read a lot. An Andres Bonifacio in his struggling days. He is a class by himself, industrious, hard working and punctilious. Yet he never progressed an inch higher than where he started from. He worked for the money and never allowed his money to work for him, besides if he really intended his money to work for him, it will never even move forward because it is small. He would rather hang around with those whose lucky charms are constant. In a way, in his estimation, it would spread out to him just the same.
When I was assigned in provincial stations, he would badger me to bring him along. I did. And he would always be a part of the landscape where I am. He would appreciate every sentence I would utter. He would always be there wherever I am, whenever I am scolding a recalcitrant personnel, lecturing to visitors and even bantering with prisoners. He would take note of every statement I will give and would commit everything to memory. For him, my words were doctrines he must live by.
Ka Romy’s loyalty is beyond definition. He would be there anywhere I am, except in the bathroom. He knew me from inside out. He knew every move I made. He knew from where I would begin and end my lines. He could even recite from memory all those things I have said before and had forgotten. He could even quote me verbatim.
We would always have fun. He would regale me with tales which he had encountered using my approach. He would always confirm what I have been harking on effective negotiation. He knew and this he would always try that for one to succeed in negotiation, one must always tell the truth. He was having fun imposing himself even in trivial transactions.
But life is short for Ka Romy who dreamt of outliving his father, who died at the age of 88. He knew that he still could live and enjoy life beyond 100. He was preparing himself to achieve that fate until one fine morning, while we were having an animated discussion in my office (where he would always be around every morning), he would in an instant seek my permission for him to leave early. I implored that he should accompany me for lunch as he would often do everyday. That day, January 12 (2012) he would rather be off so that he could have his hair dyed. I tried to argue with him that God made his hair white, so why bother to color it. His repartee was quick. Accordingly, God gave me a body, why bother take a bath. And so he went with a promise to call me at lunch time. That was 9 AM. He met an accident around 10 AM but I was only informed of the incident at 12 noon. I immediately proceeded to the clinic where he was admitted and I, along with those who attended to him, decided to transfer him to a private hospital. He never regained his consciousness until the fifth day, after he underwent brain operation and about to recover, his body gave up. He died noon time of January 17, a day before he would have celebrated his 68th birthday and hopefully, to have a soft opening for the small resto he excitedly tried to build and nurture from small funds he saved.
He had a lot of projects. He dreamt that finally after a fledging year of staying on the background, he would after a few months would be able to reap the fruits of his plans. That would never materialized, that would however not happen. In a flick of a second, that freak motorcycle accident would have erased everything that he wished for.
Such would be his fate. He tried to be successful before. He tried mightily to make things happen. His industry is almost without equal. Yet never would achieve something beyond what he wished for. Instead, he tried to coast along my coat tails. He had all the fun in the world for showing loyalty. Now he wanted to break out if only to try his luck near the sphere where I am, that which he found comfort and confidence. A few kilometres however from my vantage point, he would meet the end of the line. For me, his friend, he never left at all. I even tried not to view his remains. What I wanted is to retain the thought that he is still alive. In my mind, he still is. As he has shown absolute loyalty to me, in return I also extend the same brand of allegiance. He remains alive and a constant reminder of what a devoted friend really is.
At the rate he tried to be an apostle to my public ministry, I would implore that he should live more and should reach the century age! That way, he would be able to share what he picked from me. His brain has a capacity to absorb anything he would fancy. I would even be surprised to hear a novel quote from him only to realize that I uttered it once upon a time. Even the anecdotes and jokes he would relay, where I would derive amusing moments after he delivered it, were actually snippets he got from me. The fellow indeed has a great intellectual capacity to hold on anything his mind would like to commit. He is also multilingual, something which I am deficient. All through out, he is even more endowed than me in terms of talent. There is only one area which I would say, I am more than him. I think less of myself.
But his devotion to me as a friend is an epic quality I can only find among gods in mythology.