By Icoy San Pedro

AT the request of a friend whom I had coffee with yesterday, I’m taking this tale out of the old baul. I swear this really happened a long time ago, during my college days. Some might have already heard it, so please bear with me for retelling it again. When I first wrote about it, I contemplated titling this as, “Kinsang nangawat sa kabaw?” or “Who stole the carabao?” but finally settled for a carabao thief instead. So, here goes. 

Surely, most of us must have experienced having loud co-passengers during our public commutes. While it may often be a source of irritation, especially when one had originally wished for a quiet ride, it could also be a source of entertainment one could be thankful for. I was on one of those long-chassis passenger jeepneys bound for the public market in Bankerohan. As seating arrangements go, it was ten people to each side, with each side facing each other (Pre- or post-COVID, it’s all the same now). 

Luckily, I was seated near the entrance (or exit, whichever way one saw it) because the jeepney was already full at that time. Directly behind the driver facing each other, sat two middle-aged ladies with market baskets propped at their feet. Noticeably, out of all the passengers in the jeepney, they were the only ones in conversation. Starting from Acacia Street near Uyanguren, up to the public market at Bankerohan, they had been so loud that no one could help but clearly hear the topic. 

Apparently, they had been gossiping about an incident in their own community. As usual, as all gossips go, spicing up actors in any story makes up the bulk of the whole exercise, and this was the creme-de-la-creme for those who were seated within earshot. Some passengers had even managed to inject a query or two, which further inspired the ladies (as they now had an audience). Seemingly done with her meticulous description of the interesting characters, the now-animated storyteller delivered what it was all about…a carabao had been stolen! At this, the lady, in a much-louder voice, exclaimed, “…AND DID YOU KNOW WHO STOLE THE CARABAO?”

Almost everyone awaited the answer, judging from the sudden leaning of the passengers in their direction. She then reached over with cupped her hands, and whispered it to the waiting ear of the other lady. All that everyone could hear was, ”and the thief was…” whisper-whisper. 

The two were quiet for a while but not as deathly quiet as all the passengers in the jeepney. At this, one of them ultimately said, “Para! We nearly missed our stop”  Both ladies then edged their way to the exit and alighted at the market. The passengers remained quiet for a while, even as the jeep inched through Magallanes. Then just as I was about to go down, a fellow passenger who had earlier moved next to me whispered. “Did you catch happen to hear who stole the carabao?” 

I swear, to this day, I don’t know.


Source: Mindanao Times (