|25 He Kept On Stumbling
Over Chickens And Eggs
During all those exciting times in the Philippines -- people power, power
brownouts, American bases blackouts, the black ashes of Mt. Pinatubo -- I was holed up in
Jeddah, eating quick sunny side up eggs for breakfast and chicken tikka for supper.
You might ask me by now, why do I keep on
mentioning chickens and eggs?
I have this unexplainable fixation for
chickens and eggs, that is why, bordering on the illusion that a time may come when
chickens and eggs alone may save mankind from starvation.
More generally, my fixation encompasses
other fowls and their eggs, since sometimes, I come across some pigeons instead of
One time in the middle 90s, an
air-conditioning unit at my house in Jeddah started to operate noisily, like when a piece
of paper is thrust into the rotating blades of an electric fan. I left it at that for a
few days until the landlord upstairs knocked on my door shouting above the din that my
right to turn on my aircon unit will forever be revoked unless I fix the noise.
I asked the maintenance department at the
office to send an electrician to check the unit. They sent Valerio Nalupa to the house. He
was a lanky, smiley guy from Iloilo who liked to shave his head just for the fun of it,
especially during the Haj period when a lot of hajjis shaved their heads. When Val, after
some effort, finally managed to open up the back of the aircon unit, he took out a
gabbling pigeon in a straw nest trying to brood three spotty eggs. The children all jumped
up with delight on the now confused bird until Val suggested that he took the bird and her
nest with him to the company villa that had a comfortable rooftop for just this kind of
A year after that episode, Val died of
electrocution on the rooftop of one of the company villas. It happened during one of those
rare rainy days in Jeddah while Val was trying to fix a motor pump for an elevated water
tank. The pigeons, I am sure, must have cried profusely when they saw Val, with nobody to
come to his rescue while he laid there for an eternity, in the rain puddles under the
If you think that that was a nasty way to
go, think about the warehouse picker who got squashed under several pieces of steel beams
when they came crashing down on him at the staging yard.
When I go myself, I would like to have
this epitaph: He Kept On Stumbling Over Chickens And Eggs.