Stretching his body, Danny a 43-year-old down-and-out man pushed his feet on his slippers and went out his barracks just at the back of his master’s abode. The sun was up and it means a long day for him in the sea. He was a little bit late for breakfast. All members of his master’s family had already eaten, sorting for what’s been left was his only choice.
He opened the half-covered table in search for food. One piece of fried tilapia and a bowl of “ginataang langka” emerged on his sight. It delighted his senses that, out of joy, he profusely praised the heavens for having a generous lord. Wolfing over such nice meal took him several minutes, and after his tummy has been filled, he went to get his shovels, while readying his powerful trunk for a strenuous activity of the day.
Danny has been with his master for over a decade. He works as a seaman–the one who operates a motorized boat and shovels a boatful of sand from the sea. He loves this kind of job and spends most of his days fulfilling it, that seldom he rests. However, he’s not being paid like a regular worker and yet, by choice, he still stays with them. Mang Enzo, his father, can’t do anything with his son’s resolve. A great wall was built between them right after Danny’s older sister eloped with a guy. Danny accused him as a neglectful father, that if he’s not, he could have managed to attend school. Thus, he left his father and tries to live separately.
Suffering from the bitterness of ignorance, Danny succumbed to manual labors and worked even harder to attain the respect of the people he works for, as he can’t find a living other than that.
In his town, many people call him names, some are funny and some are insulting. Folks sometimes ridicule him because of his physical attributes. His peers see him as a funny half-wit person, only good for amusement. For one good reason, he is deaf, and not all the time he hears them. He just shrugs off those expletives innocently. A Few years back, Danny acquired a new name. He’s been called funny boy, a sobriquet that rhymes with his real name, and resembles with his personality. It’s okay for him and he doesn’t mind.
Danny is very loyal to his master and would do everything, out of his known expertise, just to make them satisfied. For the long years he stayed under his master’s care, he’s treated like a family and vice-versa, and he’s thankful about it. Since it was not his nature to ask for compensation, his master would equip him the things he needs, especially food. It was enough that there’s someone feeding him, which he would work hard in return. Like a carabao, he can be an emblem of industry. It was something that he wants his name to be associated with, anyway.
When Mang Enzo died, some relatives of him, rallied together to bring funny boy back to his birthplace, 91 kilometers far from the town where his master lives. The relatives promised the master that they would be the one to take care of the poor boy. And so Danny went with them, unable to make decisions by himself.
The master and her family went partially lame. They were unable to do things without Funny boy, especially the work in the sea. There’s no one who can par with his might in shoveling sand. The members of the family had depended to him so much that he’s absence impacted them on great weight. But one thing they’re sure, Funny boy will be back. They have shown him what family was like and if he can’t find it there, he’ll probably go home.
Several months passed and funny boy wasn’t funny at all. He has grown pale and thin and his face was a bit of horror, but he was back and that’s for the best. He chose to quit and go home. He walked with bare feet the 91 kilometers distance from his birthplace to his master’s abode. He didn’t have any money for the fare. Still, he pursued, as he didn’t like it there. It was not his nature to work in the forest rather he missed the scent of the sea and the seaman’s job. He also missed the abundance of food and he missed the family he left.
Slowly he got back in his old shape. His master felt operational again and his family was unburdened by tasks of sorts. Everything went back to normalcy.
The universe, however, has a different plan. Funny boy’s master miscalculated things and went bankrupt. The once abundant life progressively became worse. The motorized boats they have for the business slowly faced deterioration, always subjected for repair until it gave up. The once abundant table became scarce with food. Funny boy most of the time goes hungry, but reluctant to share the sentiments. He knew what the family’s predicament was.
Funny boy sensed what was coming and he’s a little bit afraid. When the gravel and sand business of his master took off, he suddenly felt useless. He felt that the connection that binds them is now like a frail strand of thread, and will break anytime soon.
Every day, early in the morning, he would look at the creek, gaze towards the rotten boat, sometimes check on it but would relinquish afterwards after losing hope. Like the boat, his master gave up too. Now, he is thinking of when that frail strand of thread would break and when his master would give up on him too.
He thinks how poignant leave the people who treated him as a family, much more, when he would leave them in this troubled time, however, he needs to survive and his survival can’t be relied to his master. Master is weak and does not need an added burden. Funny boy believes that his expertise is not what they need at this point of time.
By now, he has jumped off to another boat. He has a new master, as generous as his former. Again, he has found a new family. Once more, there is an abundance of food on the table, there is a boat to maneuver and he has a new life to live. However, he was fully aware that things might end at any minute, which, from time to time, his worth as a person might be tested. He knew very well that he should always be on the lookout for life is nothing but a great uncertainty.
Funny boy was once a member of our family. He was my Granny’s reliable house-help.