(Note: Part 1 reposted)
He has always hated getting his feet soaked in the rain. The feel of cold water seeping through his sneakers, socks, and then trickling in between his toes is one of his major peeves.
But tonight Dante doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he doesn’t seem to even notice that his white sneakers and socks have now completely surrendered to the intrusion of dirty rain water. That, for almost fifteen minutes, his feet have been cold and soaking wet.
There he stands, right across the barangay hall, at the street corner where the pot-bellied MMDA officer takes his post every night. Apart from the steady heaving of his chest, Dante is motionless. And drenched—with no umbrella or jacket to fight off the heavy downpour.
“’Toy, baka sipunin ka n’yan,” the pot-bellied traffic enforcer shouts out, taking two steps to the side of the unprotected figure in the rain. “Tingnan mo ako may kapote. Solb na. Yun nga lang, di ako maka-yosi…”
The officer pauses, awaiting a response. He doesn’t get any. On a different night, Dante would have engaged the officer in small talk, perhaps even good-naturedly joke about his pot belly. But then again, on a different night, Dante wouldn’t have been there in the pouring rain. Neither would he have endured even for a minute the uncomfortable feeling of cold feet.
Realizing that his conversation opener has been ignored, the officer retraces his two steps away from the figure in the rain, and then buttons down his rain coat—because his protruding belly has started to get damp and because he instinctively needs to get busy doing something to conceal his embarrassment at the rejection.
But Dante has, in fact, taken notice of the officer—his blue rain coat, in particular.
Around three years ago, also on a night visited by heavy downpour, Tarra wore a rain coat with almost the same shade of blue as that of the traffic officer’s. It was the first thing Dante noticed about her. She had no umbrella, just a transparent, bluish rain coat that reached right above her ankles. The way Tarra wore her rain coat and the warm smile that peeked through the hood made Dante think of a bright and clear-skied day. Not a shade of cloudiness in those eyes. At that moment, Dante believed that if Tarra were to simply unveil her hood, the rain would instantaneously cease its pounding and sunrise would be prematurely summoned. That face, that smile—they were nothing less than sunshine.
Dante, however, did not get empirical proof for his weather-altering theory concerning the girl in the blue rain coat. For Tarra’s beautiful face had remained shrouded in the plastic hood, as the rain persisted in its pouring. Could it be that she is unaware of her affecting radiance? The more Dante thought about it, the more he liked the idea of her ignorance of her own luminous charms. Somehow, that made her doubly beautiful.
While his gaze was stubbornly fixed on the radiant beauty in the blue rain coat, Dante must have convinced himself that it wasn’t really raining cats and dogs around him. His senses, captivated by the beautifully radiant stimulus before them, simply shut off the rain. Because, as if in a trance, Dante took three tentative steps towards Tarra, and in so doing, accidentally stepped into a puddle of ankle-deep rain water.
Now he had a problem. Cold feet.
*To be continued*