I pressed the left brake to help me turn right. A single person was outside the house that sits beside the entry to the farm-to-market road—a young woman, probably in her 30s, just standing up in front of the house. Usually, there would be four or more gathered outside. But today, only dogs, some tied while others let loose, filled the sides of the road. I pressed on.
It was past six and the sun has already completed its descent. Only a glitter of orange marked its trail on the blue sky. From afar, I saw Tito Jess. While he held chalk and eraser two weeks ago, today, he holds dried grass and crumpled leaves between his hands. He dumps them on a pile. “Tito Jess!” I cried as I passed by. “Vince!” he replied. There was light to run after. So I pressed on.
On the final stretch of cement, before my bike wheels hit rocks and stones and dust, I saw the small girl again. Today, she is dragging the ropes of two goats, leading them out of the cement and down into the soil beside her family’s house—the same soil her father probably tills and plants on for cash. She squatted, picked up the nearest rock, and hit the bamboo stick at the end of the first goat’s rope down into the ground. She raised her head up when she was finished, saw me, and threw a smile. I reciprocated with a nod.
I reached the small cemented house that keeps the motor that sucks water from the springs deep below the ground and pumps it out into the irrigation canals. There were three cows standing around the house: a mother, a little calf, and a bull. The adults were fastened, away from each other, while the little boy was let loose.
The little calf had a brown skin over his head. It looked like he was wearing a hat. As I sat down, he walked slowly away from his mother. At first, I thought he was walking towards me. But then he galloped towards the bull and started licking his horns. The bull stood still, head bowed down for the little calf to reach. He might be his father. Or I just hoped he was.
A swarm of dark, winged creatures flew around me—too near one of them almost hit my face. They were bats circling around the irrigation canal below me and my bike. Perhaps, they spotted some prey. Perhaps, they’re just annoyed that a bipedal was still around their turf at this hour. Whatever their reason, I decided to leave them in peace.
I pulled my bike and dragged it beside me as I walked the road of rocks and stones and dust.