Carlo was “invisible” most of his life. Not really invisible like in some science fiction movie but real life invisible. He was the guy you see sleeping in a doorway but you do not really look at him. He was the boy guarding your motorcycle but you would not know him if he sat next to you in church. Carlo belonged to that legion of faceless people you meet everyday but never really see.
It was not really Carlo’s fault. He was born into a family of gangsters and shabu addicts. He started at the bottom and went down from there.
With no education, he spent most of his young life scrapping and stealing. He slept where he happened to be when he fell down after drinking all the tuba he could scrounge. Life was one long foggy drunken binge.
Then one morning something changed. He was curled up in his filthy rags sleeping in the park. Even before he opened his eyes he felt her presences. She was looking at him with soft brown eyes, not with pity or scorn, but with a tenderness that is hard to describe. He waited for the sermon that was sure to come. These holy rollers always wanted to “save” someone. He wished she would just leave him alone.
She said nothing. She placed half a sandwich and a can of soda by his hand, stood up and slowly walked away. Puzzled he watched her enter a courtyard across the street. He later discovered she was the maid for the house.
Carlo did not know why but he began to sleep under a tree near where she worked. He liked to watch her walk to the market and perform other household chores. She was not “movie star” beautiful but she had quiet inner peace that made her very attractive. Her skin was silky flawless dark mahogany and her hair glistened in the morning sun. He wanted to talk to her but he felt unworthy. What made it worse, she was a widow with two young children. What could a drunken shabu addict bum have to offer this fine hardworking Christian family?
It was not even a conscious decision on Carlo’s part; he just stopped getting drunk. He could enjoy watching her more if he was not all fogged up on drugs. He remembered the first day she actually spoke to him. He asked if there was any work he could do for the house. He really did not care about the work or the money as much as he cared about just being around her. Her voice was as soft and silky as her skin. Her breath was sweet.
Their unusual courtship was long, slow and not without hardships. Her children were dead set against her getting involved with a “ no good drunken shabu addicted bum”. He could not blame them.
When there was no work at the house, he spent his time scrapping all over the city. He had a new goal in life. He finally got together enough money to rent a small piece of land. With his own hands he built a small kubo. It was nothing fancy but it was his first home and he was very proud of it. He only needed one thing to make it complete.
It was the most difficult thing he ever done but finally he asked her to marry him. To his great joy, she said yes. He thought that was the happiest day of his life; but the happiest day actually came almost a year later. After a year, her two teenage daughters came to him out of respect and started to call him “father”.
That was the day Carlo stopped being “invisible”. Someone had looked into his heart with soft brown eyes and saw his soul. The nice thing about this little story is…. it is true. Nobody is lost until they give up on themself.