Friday, March 16, 2007

What's pretty isn't always thus

Early that morning, a week into what had become my routine of making a push with a road bike, I headed east along J.P. Rizal St. and could see the trusses of the Guadalupe Bridge ahead flashing in the sun and the Pasig River beginning to glisten.

There rarely was a stink in that part of the drive, when the river would flank the road, during mornings. Usually at night on my way back from work it was different. There must be something with mornings that is truly healthy. I took a passing look at the sun and felt all right and awake like I had just sipped a decent gin or some thing.

I pushed hard in the cold of the morning and I wanted to really sweat. I could not help but check myself every time the wind made me shiver. Then a hefty SUV brushed past me, drove off, and I felt my eyes especially hot and I knew I was afraid.

At a park on the banks of the Pasig I took a seat on a stone bench, rinsed my mouth with the water from a canteen on the bike, and looked out to the Mandaluyong side of the river. I said to myself a brief prayer and it was hastily done. I tried not to think about that SUV and watched the river.

The black water, when it reached the banks, more and more looked to me like it was scraping on to the rocks and pulling itself out. I readied for the push back. I knew I had taken to imagining and it often happened to me that I would subsequently be anxious for the way back.

The hell with the sun and the river and all that morning feel. I was riding a bike and that was it. I read somewhere that one way to know the beauty of a town really well is to ride in its streets on a bike. I must have taken that to mean differently. A week into my bike routine I had taken the sun rising in Makati to mean the day is getting busy and the road nasty. I sure had more use for that.

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