The Vengeful One

Nonfiction by | June 1, 2008

A baboon stole my ice cream just as I was crossing a street.

No, this is not some region in Africa I’m talking about here. I’m talking Davao here, and the incident happened on an avenue just a few meters from Gaisano Mall.

So there it was, a baboon on the road, and it was looking to have food the easiest way possible. I was about to step out of the way of a jeepney when, from behind me, I heard someone say, “Ako na lang ni ‘te.” Before the beast could even finish its sentence, and before I could gather that I was the recipient of the message, he pried the ice cream cone violently from my hand.

Not quite believing what had happened, I looked at the jeepney in front of me. I looked for a hint of shock in the first face I could find, just to confirm what had occurred — and to tell me that the ice cream that was in my right hand was not just a phantom I had imagined the last five minutes or so. Sure enough, the passenger in the front seat stared at me dumbfounded. He looked half-shocked and half-attentive, like he had witnessed something straight out of the movies. He was now waiting for me to make the next move.

My first impulse was to look ahead, step onto the curb, shrug, feign an amused smile to give everyone the impression that I was unfazed by the incident — “it’s all part of life, folks!” — and forget what happened as I walked away. But something stopped me from taking that step forward. Something in my head just refused to let this little incident go.

I mean, sure, it was just a P15 soft-serve ice cream. And I had about finished it halfway when that punk came around and took it from me. But you see, it wasn’t about the ice cream anymore. It was the utter disrespect. He took it from me because he thought I was an easy target. I was small and I was female — in short, he probably thought I was defenseless. It would practically be taking candy from a baby. The tone of his voice, the look of triumph on his face just as he had seized the cone from my hand–he was utterly without guilt. That was what made me change my mind.

I clenched my lower jaw and turned around, just in time to see the louse stride confidently toward the other side of the road with two companions.

I wanted so badly to erase that smirk off the louse’s face that I found myself racing along the road, oblivious to oncoming vehicles, feeling as if my outstretched hands were enough to stop their advance. I fixed my eyes on the pack of baboons who were confidently making their exit across a makeshift ukay-ukay stall. Then, as I came within reach, I gave the last one a mighty shove from behind; which, I realize in retrospect, was the wrong move. I should have just sneaked up on the bastard and reached for his hair with my two hands and resolved never to let go until I had ripped a sizable chunk of his scalp off his skull with my tenacious fists.

In any case, the louse, who was shielded from my wrath by his two companions, now alerted to my fury, proceeded at a blind run. Realizing that the baboon had made too much headway for me to catch up with him, I hurled invectives and death threats in a faltering, high-pitched voice. Adrenaline had not only made my voice rise three octaves higher; it also made me unaware of my surroundings, as I was too intent on not losing sight of my target. I only realized later, as I was huffing and puffing my way back to the street that in my haste to exact vengeance, I had stepped on a kanal. But I couldn’t care less. At that point, I would have very much preferred rolling in mud while engaging in a fistfight with the offender, if only to exact my idea of “instant justice.”

Of course, the real, less-exciting scene was such a letdown. In the end, I think I only managed to land a stray blow with my flailing hands before he took off. (And I was really hoping to draw blood. Sniff!) But I think I got my point across and succeeded in letting that street punk know better than to mess with people half his size. Much less a woman who has happened to watch “Taxi Driver” and “The Brave One.” Well, I can get really rabid. bitchy and unladylike given the right conditions.

Anyway, it’s been two days. I have had enough time to calm my nerves, and also to rationalize the whole event. I still have to do yoga breaths whenever my mind goes back to that event. I don’t think I can look at a McDip sundae the same way ever again…

Well anyhow, thinking about it now, I realize that I really should have just let that street punk have it.

My fist, I mean. And my other fist.

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