I have never imagined a piece of straw like me would have a friend like Nonoy. He is the youngest among the four children and the last one of three who was inflicted of the deadly Dengue Fever that has threatened the lives of many.
“WitchyWitchy”, Nonoy would call me, as I am the witch-like creature straw on Nonoy’s glass that usually stands on the side cupboard, “It’s water time again”, he would happily say. He would drink at least a glass of water or more to get rid of the mosquito bacteria in his blood, and he would do this every fifteen minutes or at least when his stomach could still accommodate the enormous water that he has to fill in. Despite his high fever, Nonoy still exemplifies being a jolly and obedient child. He drunk… and drunk and drunk……through me!
I was not alone on Nonoy’s glass. I have other friends –“Bondat”, the fat belly straw, and “Squashy”, the famous Halloween pumpkin straw.
Squashy was Cocoy’s friend, Nonoy’s older brother who got Dengue Fever four days ahead of Nonoy and who sleeps on a bed next to Nonoy’s. Unlike Nonoy, Cocoy would grumble and whine for a while before drinking so their mother would do some tricks to make him drink. Cocoy and Squashy were discharged early. They went home ahead of us so I got separated from Squashy for a time. But I can proudly say that I am more useful than him because of Cocoy’s complaining.
Bondat on the other hand was Tito’s lone friend because they stayed at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He was the first to acquire the threatening disease. And yes, he was the most critical. Tito almost died when he passed out due to consistent high fever and blood infection. That was the time when I would hear mother reciting a prayer using that necklace of beads with a cross in the middle…She kept on repeating the prayer which sounded like a wail… That was also the time when I noticed mother’s eyes were mostly sore and swollen. I would always ask why, but Nonoy wouldn’t hear me. She’s been trying to smile so Nonoy would feel better, but why the sadness and worries behind her smile? My questions remained unanswered.
“Tito’s parents, to the ICU please,” sounded the intercom. Mother and father jumped out of bed, both crying and shaking. But neither of them could speak. When they returned, mother didn’t help but burst out a loud cry. Father would always console her, making her feel he was with her and that he was also in pain… They kept on making calls. Again I asked why, still no answer was given to me.
“We have to get a technician for Tito’s CT scan”, father said in a hopeful voice. “He will be okay”. He added, trying to calm down mother’s emotions. With this, mother would sob quietly in a corner…
I have witnessed how their family was enveloped with fear….how they struggled ….how they prayed …and how they believed in HIM!
After a few days, Nonoy and I were freed from the hospital blues. No more laboratory tests, no more nurses, no more of Doctor’s instructions, and no more medical technologists whom mother called vampires because they kept on getting blood from my friend. I felt glad and relieved that my dear buddy was out of danger, though the feeling was quite abated with the thought that Tito was still in danger. Somehow I was afflicted with the family’s feelings. We went home with Aunt Andrea because mother and father have to stay with Tito who was still at the ICU.
And so I was reunited with Squashy at home. I must say he was happy to see us as well. He narrated how he and Cocoy have gone to Kuya Eric’s house in Manila and how bored they were during their stay there. I concluded that they missed Tito and Bondat too. We all miss them, and none of us knew what will happen to him.
The family hanged on, praying and waiting. Until finally, the long wait is over. Mother called one evening. When the phone rang, no one was breathing, no one dared to speak. It was then that I heard heartbeats louder than shouts. She spoke to Nonoy saying…. they will be coming home with Tito – and he survived! Joy filled every corner of the house and every corner of the neighbor’s house.
After staying at the hospital for 14 days, Tito was back and alive. Mother described how difficult the times were during the ICU days. She recounted when he had the second attack of convulsion, when he had to undergo series of tests to find out what it was, when mother had to ask friends, relatives, priests and nuns for prayers, and when she had to stay at the chapel for help for a long time. “This”, she would say, “is God’s miracle”.
The family was reunited, and we were reunited too. Bondat is back! Who would ever think we can still see each other after the storm. Three straws that used to stand in a glass beside the cashier at a convenience store now rest happily in the arms of their own friends. God listens indeed.