Anyone who has been a steadfast activist would most likely find this title familiar. A strong quote I borrowed from then American activist Maggie Kuhn, who dedicated her life fighting for and defending human rights. I can’t think of a better irony right now than this statement. Two contradictory ideas that marvelously create perfect sense. Like a wilted flower that, though teetering, never succumbs to the blistering heat that taunts it, scorches it, and gives it a reason to loosen its hold from the tree.
You should’ve guessed by now. I am that flower.
Every day, for the last few months that I had worked night shifts, it felt as though my feet were bound with heavy shackles that caused my existence to be in a drag. I had struggled to wake up every 6:30 p.m.to that cursed sound of the alarm. Although there were days when I’d have the entire day to squander (translation: sleep), I’d still get eye bags, and I’d still feel tired like never before. I was dragging my whole self to the situation. I took a part-time job to at least give justice to the eye bags, but the situation didn’t get any better. I gained more money, but I was losing two important things–my weight and my life.
As I turned on the TV to watch tonight’s news, my heart sank upon seeing the grim fate of the ten construction workers, who died in an accident when the scaffold they were standing on collapsed and fell from the twenty-eighth floor of a high-rise building. There were allegedly eleven people who boarded the scaffold, which was supposed to hold not more than six. It was definitely a case of overcapacity. Among the eleven who took that leap of faith,who risked their lives for a few pennies, I couldn’t help but wonder. Hadn’t anybody thought about speaking his mind?
I trust in the saying “Two heads are better than one.” And what of eleven? There had to be somebody among them who felt an ominous chord before they went and embarked to their unfortunate demise. Somebody who gained insight on the ramifications of what they were about to do. That somebody who had the knowledge but lacked the power to express. Perhaps a newbie who had cold feet and convinced himself that it’s inappropriate to talk ahead of the seniors. Or a senior who opted not to press the point, thinking it would just be an ordinary day, and there couldn’t be anything bad that could happen.
I wonder what went on the minds of the other ten who snobbed the idea of danger. Who carried on without batting an eyelash. Were they as nervous as the one who trembled and held his tongue? Or had the thought of going on that unsteady platform stripped them of all emotions and kept them numb?
If only that man had spoken. Or, if he did, if only he stood his ground. If only he had been courageous enough to risk being ridiculed or laughed at. If only he had taken that life-changing risk, it would’ve saved more than half a dozen more and spared a thousand television viewers from anguish and despair.
If only he chose to believe that there’s nothing wrong to be that wilted flower, but that there’s more wrong than right in pretending to be a sturdy tree.
This is not to say I’m trying to find the culprit to point a finger on. This is just my curiosity, which has engendered speculation. I am anxious to hear the story from the sole survivor who’s currently fighting for his life in the hospital. I pray that he lives to tell us the “Tale of the Eleven Construction Workers.”
While I write this, I am curled up like a flower. The Cebu weather has been generous in allowing rain that gives showers to flowers. Especially that, which was once dried up but is now teeming with life.
It’s 8:54 p.m., and I’m sitting in a mushroom of comfort with three piles of pillows on my back. The alarm would have gone off minutes ago. I have to ditch that alarm. I have time on my side now. I’m happy. And I’m being paid.
(I am now working as a home-based freelance editor. I love my job.)