In the summer of their second year in college, Paul went with his friend Carlo to spend the summer vacation in the province. Though the trip was a long and tiring one, the view outside the bus and the friendly people inside the jeepney made it all up. Exhausted but happy, Paul slept soundly.
In the morning, Paul got up excited about what the new day would bring. He shook Carlo and urged him to get up.
“What time is it?” asked Carlo
“Seven, I guess…”
“Have you seen an old man riding an old bike?”
“Well, then, it’s still early, go back to bed..”
After a few minutes, Paul saw from the window an old man riding an equally old and creaky bicycle. As he passed by, the old man waved at him and he waved back.
Later, Paul learned that the old man was Mang Nardo. Carlo said that Mang Nardo has been biking around the town every morning for as long as he could remember. The old man passed by their house at exactly 7 o’clock in the morning, how he managed to that, no one knew. Mang Nardo, old as he was drags his old bike from the side of his house every day on fine days. People in town would know what time it was when Mang Nardo passed by. So, they know if they are running late or got up very early, or if the day is fine enough to go out, because Mang Nardo don’t go out when it rains.
So, the people in town depended on Mang Nardo’s bike to prepare for school, to do household chores, to get dressed for church or even to feed the baby. How an ordinary old man could play such an important role in a entire town, Paul could not comprehend.
Then, on Paul’s second visit to Carlo’s province, the mayor died. The town mourned for their beloved mayor and gave him an honorable funeral. He was succeeded by the vice mayor and the town moved on. As it used to, the town went in with its usual activities.
But one day, Mang Nardo’s bike wasn’t seen for the entire day. Several people were late for work, breakfasts weren’t cooked and errands were done late. They learned later that Mang Nardo fell sick and remained sick. The townspeople, felt panicky, Mang Nardo became a vital part of their everyday lives that his not showing up in the morning seems like a disruption of their routine. Every day, visitors come over to Mang Nardo’s house. Everybody asks for his condition. Some even send him food to eat. But it seems like Mand Nardo has already lived a fruitful and meaningful life.
After a few more weeks, Mang Nardo died. The entire town mourned for him. Then Paul finally understood. Mang Nardo, though only an ordinary old man was a part of everybody’s life. He didn’t need to hold a high position in politics, nor to be a member of a religious organization not even a member of the academe to play a role in society and influence others. He was just himself, an old man riding an old and creaky bicycle around town at a specific time of the day.
(Original story by the blog author, any similarity with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)