Of Rice Grains and Thieves
(A Tribute to Francisco Abella, shot dead for pilfering a sack of rice at Pier 4, Cebu City, Philippines)
You are shot dead for pilfering a sack of rice
and they call you a thief, a robber,
an immoral,a violator of the law
that sets peace and order
and so that leaves him in authority
who shot you dead justified and free.
You are among those dirty humans
on the city roads, dressed like lesser humans
who have never ceased the fondness to life and
who upon seeing a cargo of sacks and sacks of rice, crawl like the Biblical Lazarus
that claim the right to eat the grains
that fall from the rich man`s table.
And you are shot dead
over your claim for some grains
because we call you a thief, a robber,
a violator of the peace and order.
You are weak indeed for you have come
like the visible devil,
outstripped of hipocrisy
for at the eyes of the moral guardians
you stand condemned though you may have
exercised the subtle art of hiding
your own violation
from the brave and watchful eyes.
You are smart indeed because your visibility
comes like the dust riding on the sun
and the shot of a cocked barrel
easily puts an end
to your clear visible figure.
You are weak indeed even to hide yourself.
But I see your act of pilfering a sack of rice
a bold claim for grains for immediate release
from hunger, a claim for immediate survival
amidst this economic crises of our time,
a claim that doesn`t have to be shown
in pretense or in secret
for the lack of food that makes hungry cramps
on your belly and those of your loved ones
is a violence itself
that needs to be calmed down.
But our own decorum brands you a thief,
a robber, a violator of the peace and order
that is quick to give the immediate dosage
of letting you go at the end of the barrel
for you are looked at as an eyesore, a dirt,
a devil that should not resurrect once killed.
But your presence will ever crawl in our land
as long as hunger thrives
as long as we look at you a devil
at the public eyes
as long as we blind ourselves
to the greater robbers and thieves in our time
whose arrogance and greed
make them safe and invisible
as long as we continue to heal
only the symptoms
and not the gamut of the whole situation.
For pilfering a sack of rice,
you are shot dead
over and against your weakness.
For the millions of funds
amassed in the name of your weakness,
the real robbers and thieves
are kept safe
from the barrel of the moral guardians.