Hi I Am Pen And I Sell Pens
By Paul Victor • June 29, 2014
The perspective changing event happened on a very exhaustive day. The usual routine of our working lives through which there are alot of things that needed to be accomplished but time is so limited. A time that is so un-ideal to get immersed in so much introspection. A text message interrupted my so occupied brain soaked in so much thinking. A friend of mine from highschool asked me to hang out, a very untimely invitation but i end up saying yes (knowing not why). I took my hand off to all those toxic workload and decided that probably i needed to call it a day and punched out early.
So we and another friend went to a particular university nearby that is so famed with their cheap yet so delicious barbecue. People will patiently fall in line to get a portion of this haven and since the store was located outside the campus, beggars are also around waiting to be filled with something spare that they can ask. And if fortunate enough, they can have a full meal enough for the day.
Yes, as expected, children lined in front of us as we consumed our purchase. And its very normal for us people to initially feel pity but when being bombarded by continual begging definitely you will get upset.
Then came a teen age boy, approached us and ask if we can buy some of his pens (in a highly marked up price) intending to get a sum of money to cope with his financial needs in studying. He went on convincing us that he was enrolled in a particular tertiary school in Antipolo (which I thought is so far away at our current place) that he is currently a sophomore taking business related course. He also explained (although I am not asking) that the pens he is selling is pricey because he would settle efforting this way rather than to stop schooling or diverting to any illegal source of finances. He would sell rather than beg. Probably he had read my suspicion.
I tried to converse with him in my vernacular tongue but he requested if I can speak in English and showed me his immigration ID which told me that he is a Cambodian citizen. More questions flooded my mind; what is this person doing in our country? Didnt they also have good schools back where he from? If schooling brought him here, what made him decide to leave the comfort he might have there in expense of what he is having right now?
Then my inquiries led to a long story he recounted. An organization sent them in our country for education with a promise to cover all the expenses such as the tuition fees, travel allowances, food, board and lodging and many more. Having no father, and limited resources to go to college, he grabbed the opportunity. But early in his second year, financial support except tuition fee, were cut because the fund to finance them is already alleviating.
"That is why I am selling pens because I am Pen, this one (as he is holding a pen that he is trying to sell to us) and me are one, it will going to help me survive". He jokingly and sheepishly told me. Streams of thought started to flood inside me. How many pens will he going to sell to sustain his ever changing financial needs to finish studies? How often does he go out to sell such? How exhausting it will be that after class hours he needed to do this and catch up with his lessons while on the road?. And where did he get the unlimited and so resilient courage to traverse an unfamiliar land, brave the everyday challenges - cultural and language barriers. I asked and was uplifted by his simple yet astounding answer. "I believe in my dreams than my struggles, its difficult at first but life will teach us to get the hang of it later on. I wanted to go back to Cambodia a learned man and teach my fellow people English language and many more. Struggles today is incomparable to what future i will have after all of these" (not verbatim but the thought)
Overwhelmed with intrigue rather than suspicion, I inquired more. Like why not go look for a part time job and why he needed to study on this side of the earth rather than stay in his country for him to think of other options to ease things up. He just slashed a smile and told me he is not a citizen here. A smile that doesnt feign pity and affection but an assured solace that everything is fine with him, all is a part of his rearing, that he is one with fate and life and will embrace everything that will come in his way with zestful anticipation. A smile that I think he always wear everyday.
I took a generous amount out of my pocket not because of the heart tearing story but because the situation woke me from a long slumber. And specially in some ways I wanted to be a part of that dream he is chasing - and who knows one day I helped a man that has a promising greatness in him.
The encounter ended with me soaked in so much introspection and idiosyncracies. I was reminded to look on the finish line in my every race in life rather than the pains in running. I was reminded that DREAMS are much more powerful than hurts and struggles for us to propel higher. While i was complaining with so much workloads to face there are people out there who has incomparable dilemma that they are having and need to overcome everyday. I realized that like Pen i also wrote down a dream in my heart long ago that took me where I am right now. That I should be thankful to God always of the things that I have and the things that I do not have and the things that He planned for me to have. And that in little and simple encounters like this, there is always a big picture that we need to see because life is always teaching us incessantly.
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