Saturday, April 4

A Custodian’s Care

photo by FRANCES MARIE G. IGNALAGA/ THE FLAME

HE takes one last sip of coffee before preparing to leave. As he enters the kitchen, the sight of unwashed dishes in the sink greets him; a result of having too many consecutive late-night dinners.

He adds his coffee mug to the pile.

On his way out, he passes by his children. At such an early hour, they are yet to be awake and he drinks in the sight of their sleeping faces.

He puts on his face mask and leaves quietly.

He arrives at the university just as the sun begins to rise. The campus is mostly quiet, save for a group nearby armed with cleaning supplies. He joins them.

Today, they are cleaning the main building. It is hard work disinfecting every single implement. He pays extra care and attention to the doorknobs, the hand railings—places that his hands touch everyday.

The pungent fumes of disinfectant begin to seep beneath his mask, and the longer he cleans, the dizzier he becomes. He wishes for today’s shift to end earlier than the previous ones.

It was almost evening when he finished cleaning. He gazes at the empty hallway, and admires the now spotless walls and the gleaming ceramic tiles.

No else is there to admire it, however. Every student was gone, and they will not be back for some time.

He thinks of the dirty dishes waiting for him back at home. He makes up his mind to wash them later. F LORRAINE C. SUAREZ

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