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The Lost Child

All the streets leading to the uptown of Cebu City, as well as the main roads downward to the famous Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño Church,  were  swarmed by thousands of people from all walks of life . A survey even had it that during the day of the festival,  more than a million people came over to the city, occupying all  rooms of the nearby hotels . Vehicular traffic was rerouted away from the Carousel Route of the Grand Sinulog Parade and the riding passengers had to walk  great distances from their drop off areas due to total road closures.

Sinulog Festival is an annual cultural and religious festival in Cebu City as a commemoration of the Cebuano's first acceptance of Christianity many years ago.  It is highlighted by the Grand Sinulog Parade and Street Dancing participated by many groups coming from different places  in the country. Thousands of devotees would always come to the festival wherever they may be in the whole world to fulfill their oath and allegiance. Some were also coming to pay their homage due to their special prayer request. Most prayers were about some illnesses occuring inside the family or marriages in the brink of breaking up.

Even until past midnight or early at dawn,  the number of people in the streets would still not ebb down due to  street parties or the earlier grand musical fireworks displays held by big establishments like the Cebu City Sports Complex,  SM City and Ayala Center.

It was on this day that  Issa was discharged from her hospital admission in one of the big hospitals located at the heart of Cebu City. She was admitted for the removal of her left breast mass. Due to transportation difficulty and the thick crowd, she and her husband,  Leo, decided to leave the hospital early the next day.

While waiting for a taxi to take them to the North Bus Terminal, they sat down on a bench by the entrance of the hospital.

Few minutes after,  Issa narrowed her eyes as she looked down at the boy lying asleep on the cemented plant guard beside the bench where they were seated.

"Leo,  look at the boy! " She tugged down the sleeve of her husband whose eyes were focused on the passing vehicles.

Leo turned his head and gave her a quick glance and then shifted his eyes towards the boy.

"Issa, there are too many children lying down in the street sides. He is just one of the children of the beggars roaming around. "

She shook her head to disagree but Leo turned his head back towards the street.

"Look, Leo!  His clothes are not shabby though its already dirty. Those may be from an expensive brand. And look at his shoes and socks!  No beggar would wear a very nice pair of shoes and socks which would compliment his clothes! " Issa was already squatting beside him.

The boy must be three years old. His skin was very fair and his cheeks were pinkish. His eye bags were swollen,  obviously from crying. There were black smears on his face which may be due to his dirty hands wiping his tears away. His appearance showed that he came from a well-off family.  And as Issa looked at her closely,  the boy wore a gold necklace.

A dawn of realization came to her. This child must be lost!  Perhaps, his parents came over to watch the Sinulog Festival. The carousel route was not too far from where they were at the moment. And perhaps, he slipped away and got lost into the thick crowd.

"Leo,  let's report this child first to the nearest police station. Perhaps,  his parents are now so scared and worried sick for him. "She said while looking up at him.

"We would miss the bus and the boat going to our place. Aside from that, our money is just enough for the bus and the taxi fare. It is  not even enough to buy food for our breakfast. The little amount left from the bill was already used in buying your home medications." Leo explained as he was the one who processed and paid their hospital bill.

As soon as he was done explaining, a taxi pulled over and opened the window.

"North Bus Terminal." Leo said as he looked at the driver.

"Okay. " He closed the window and went towards the back of the car to open up the trunk.

Leo picked up their travel bags hurriedly and placed it in the trunk. When he glanced at his wife over his shoulder  to tell her supposedly to climb into the car ahead,  he saw her  instead, picking up the child into her arms. He was horrified!  She was not allowed to lift up heavy objects yet. He wanted to protest, afraid that they may be sued for kidnapping once the parents will find him. Yet, he was also afraid that the child may not fell in good hands. What if a syndicate member will find him? What if a fellow beggar will pick him up?  Or, if this child happened to be from a prominent family as he seemed to be, wouldn't he be traded for a ransom?

Having no time to argue or think about it,  he picked up the child from his wife's arm while he assisted her in her seat. His nervousness and hesitance eased up a little when he saw the joy in his wife's expression. Perhaps,  the joy that this child would give them,  may prolong her life's expectancy. He was too afraid that the mass in his wife's breast would be malignant. Too many women in their town died of breast cancer. Few of them were even his relatives. He just couldn't forget what her doctor said on the day they decided to have the surgery.

"Decide now while the mass still looks benign. Or else,  it will be too late. However,  we will confirm it once the biopsy result would be released."

So,  it meant that her wife was not  safe from cancer yet.

Marilyn Lucero

Edited: 28.10.2019

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