THE VILLAGE “IDIOT”
I asked a friend from a distant province whether they had a village idiot in their town and he said there was even three of that kind in their neighborhood!
The term is a bit brash, a bit impetuous but it is not meant to degrade a person as I used it in this essay. It is like tagging a “black sheep” in the family; one who is different, someone likely dissimilar from the rest. By idiocy here does not infer as negative in the sense of being stupid per se but one whose mental faculties could not elevate on the level of normalcy. Hence, the person acts, unintended though, contrary to what is expected from the common run of men.
And there are representative persons with that category everywhere. And they are at peace with themselves.
I have had numerous occasions to reside in various places, spend time in different communities and right there and then, I would notice persons of different characters. And most of these persons came from good families in the neighborhood. They may roam around like homeless street urchins, loaf around in rags and shabby habiliments, begging, dancing around, shouting even, or singing on top of their voices, but they are accepted as part of the landscape.
Their sudden absence at times makes communal life a drab.
Classic writer Migue de Cervantez even made a literary masterpiece out of this persona. Remember the enduring saga of one Alonso Quijano who lived modestly in a village in La Mancha and was transformed into Don Quixote de la Mancha, the title of one of best piece of literature for all time? It was a story of a village idiot. It was a case where a person engrossed with reading too much until his brained dried up and he began conjuring monsters to be taken down. That began his “heroic” quest in his village and subsequently the theme of adventure behind the classic novel.
Over in the neighborhood during my youth, there was his fellow with down syndrome. We call him Lando and he was very lovable as a playmate. Although at times he would exhibit drastic acts like throwing his favorite sock fashioned like a soft “chako” at those who would poke fun at him, he was generally subdued and behaved. He knew everyone in the neighborhood by their first name, an intellectual capacity persons with down syndrome seldom exhibit. There he was looking like a big matured fellow with a mental age of a 5 year-old boy at first glance but when engaged, he knew those around him and boy! he can beat anybody in Chess! After all, he was the younger brother of the first Chess Grand Master in Asia, Ruben Rodriquez.
Over in the town where presently I am residing, another “village idiot” can be seen. The fellow is “Dayok” to everyone in the municipality. Old folks in the area aver that Dayok came from a prominent family, the old rich, until their fortune dwindled up to the last drop. His family got the worst and it was at the time that the youthful Dayok was about to reach school age. Stories abound how his family was shamed and literally exploited; and, it was the child who bear the brunt until sanity snapped. The father died earlier on, actually was murdered according to folklore. The mother , almost insane as a consequence of destitution and suffering, was left behind to nurture the twiddling toddler.
Dayok grew up on the streets, begging from pedestrians and in the neighborhood. He never saw the confines of the school. He can be seen with his mother behind him, both bare-footed treading on seemingly in an endless bivouac.
He was a fixture in the community chapel, attending regularly the celebration of the Mass, not to pray though but to pick up the tune of the choir. Thereafter, he would mimic the melody in his consistent plying in the neighborhood for loose change or some morsels. If he could not get the tune right, he would revert back to singing the “Happy birthday” song. Like most village idiots, this fellow is a stickler when it comes to safety. He would prod anyone to assist him when crossing a busy street!
I could only make some profiling on the personality trait of village idiots. They seldom get into trouble. They never experience stress and never depressed at all. They have no aspiration and whatever challenge they would encounter, it would only amount to a simple act to remedy or respond.
They are never embarrassed. And not conscious on what people think about them. Their sense of reality is without depth. Everything is simply a matter of uncomplicatedness. Like anybody else however, they could sense danger, anger and feel pain. But their emotion stops short after it is expressed. They have no concept of revenge or getting even. They simply move on.
They never worry at all on what happens in the future and they have no sense of the past either as well as what would be the concerns of the present. But that does not mean that they are not aware or conscious. They can surprise you with their audacity and capacity for recall. Once you are imprinted in their mind as someone who extended assistance, you are marked for life and obligated to perpetually provide them the same assistance you gave them previously.
It makes sense therefore to understand why most of them live up to a ripe old age! They may be an unfortunate sight to behold, an image struggling for survival, an image which no one would intend to have a relationship with, an image on whose life depends upon the mercy of his environment.
But don’t look now. They can outsmart or outlive anyone, anytime!