faded footprints

who cares about my rights?
who cares about my rights?

In one of my project researches; I came across an old man, about 64 years old; I can tell by his looks that he just had a long and tiring day. In his right hand was the rope to control his cow; in his left hand was a crumpled paper bag, with some tiny vegetables; some of them overflow and I noticed that the sizes were irregular so I asked, “what are those for?”  “oh, these are for my children” he replied. He couldn’t help but say “I know you are wondering why I chose these for my family, yet I am a farmer” I smiled at him; and gave him a soft pat on his left shoulder.

As I walked with him, he told me the story of his farm, the way he works from 4:30 in the morning till sundown and that the harvests he had; produced him a teacher and a soon to be -engineer. He has 5 children; 3 of them still in grade school. The best of his produce her wife sells everyday, not in the market because they could not afford the space lease. Her wife would walk with a basket in her right hand; and another balanced over her head, 8 kilometer walk; everyday. We talked about life. How easy it was then; how hard it is now.

As this fast paced life chokes him; when asked about his rights, he replied “no one cares”.

The embarrassment choked me as well. I am not a politician nor a somebody who can give him solutions. Solutions that not only he longed to have.

As we look around; we see hopeless looks defined through various expressions on faces, we smell the ghastly scent of frustration, we sense the heat of anger. This is a universal trauma, but who cares, who really does care?

I asked the man if he could get involved by sharing his thoughts; he said “nobody would listen, I have no right to speak my mind”.

He gets tired and gets hurt everyday. Because nobody told him he has the right.

He does not know that in every piece of his harvests, he pays taxes. In every thread of his sweat; he is not only raising his family; he is part of the growth of the community. But nobody told him, because as he said – nobody cares.

We pay taxes everyday, our children does not know that they do too. In every centavo we give them, part of it goes to the government. In every peso or whatever currency we get our wages,  after the long and tiring work; percentage has already been deducted to pay our rulers, our supposed leaders. Yet look at where we are.

The footprints of those who fought for our freedom; the footprints of our culture, the footprints of our history.

No one preserved; so our children could learn and be led by them.

The leaders that we have; our tiny voices that could have been heard through them; all eaten by corruption, all buried in shame.

Leaders come and go;

others remembered, some forgotten,

one thing they commonly did

was to formulate promises

and in the end

accept the shame of its compromises.


main photo credit:
Shashank Kapur flickriver.com

caption by: dgad