It is one of those things I don’t really care about.
Yet they keep bringing it up.
Again and again and again.
Into the conversation.
Religion. God. Family.
To all of these I reply in the negative.
And all their conversations tend to revolve around these topics.
“You shouldn’t say ‘Good Luck.’ You should say ‘God willing.”
This was before the job interview.
We were in the lobby waiting for each of our turn on the hot seat.
His skin was too smooth, his lips were too red.
He was wearing make up.
Hair too slick and shiny.
Suit, tie, black shoes.
“Luck has no role in it. It’s all in God’s plan. It’s all in his time.”
‘In his time.’ That phrase has been making the rounds lately.
Like last year, I was talking with my then-boss with our then-prospective-donor.
‘In his time.’ The business will prosper. The family will be healthy. All in his time.
My boss was being all friendly with the lady. She owns several jewellery stores in the city. Early retirement, lots of time, need for a sense of purpose.
It was a non-profit, church-sponsored, for the improvement of the lives of the indigenous peoples.
I got the job from my uncle. He was friends with my then-boss.
I stayed in that job for a year, going to meetings, hiking to the mountains, talking to the elderly community leaders, the community organizers. I remember staring at the mountain range where the people we were supposed to help have lived for a long long time.
From afar, the mountains were slightly blue-colored, all covered in mist.
There was a ritual from the tribal elders for our arrival.
A pig was butchered and roasted on an open fire.
While the pig was being turned round and round, the shaman started chanting.
He was standing behind a table in the middle of a clearing.
On the table were a lit candle, several candies, a few coins, uncooked polished rice, coins and a bottle of whiskey.
we, the visitors from the non-profit, were seated in front of the table. The chairs were arranged in a semi-circle facing the table.
After almost an hour of this, occasionally interspersed with shots of whiskey, a chicken was brought out.
The chicken was black. With a swift slash of a short curved knife, a gash was opened on its neck. The blood steamed as it streamed out of the wound onto a big plastic bowl. The chicken stiffened and shook, then it weakened and finally died.
The killer of the chicken handed the shaman the bowl.
While he chanted, the shaman dipped a finger into the bowl and then made a cross sign on the back of a visitor’s hand. He also did the same thing to the feet, or the shoe. All the visitors had their hands and feet marked.
Afterwards, he placed the bowl on top of the table. He continued chanting some more, said something to his assistant, then sat down on his chair. He smiled.
Some more shots of whiskey for everyone. Then there was talking, talking, talking. The ceremony was over. It was time to feast.
The people were called upon, and old and young gathered inside the large nipa-roofed communal hut.
Rice and meat were placed on the pieces of banana leaves that were cut earlier into squares.
All these were laid on the bamboo floor. There was no table.
Old and young squatted side by side on the muddy bamboo floor.
They ate with their hands silently.
That was my last day at that job. After that I got really sick. It must have been something in the water, or the food, or the air.
The young man with the bright shining future, a believer in the deceny of humankind was called inside the interview room.
At the end of the hall was a window. The window opens onto a vast expanse of sky. We are somewhere in the seventh floor the building. The hallway is airconditioned. Several of the applicants carried books while waiting for their turn.
Didn’t get the job. Well, the wording was, we will call you. But I’m not the hopeful sort of guy.