The cyclist and his rollsBy Jr., Simeon Dumdum
Cebu Daily News
The toot of his bicycle horn roused me from sleep. Out of habit I would roll out of bed, get up and totter towards the gate. Still rubbing my eyes and peering against the sunrise, I would see him mounted on his bicycle, smiling, and the wicker basket behind him with its load of rolls covered with a plastic sheet.
He fixed me up with my daily supply of bread to pair my coffee with – for me the two things that make for a full breakfast. Many others like him worked the village roads, some by foot, others on tricycles with glass cases, whose shelves displayed the pastries, loaves and rolls, which appeared still steaming from the vapor on the glass.
But I dealt with him – I found his rolls crisp and to my taste, such that every morning, their image would not leave my mind until the arrival of the actual thing. And when I needed to stay in bed longer, I made arrangements for him to just leave a pack on top of a gate post, where I would leave the bills, weighted with stone, the night before.
Daily he would come, in thunder, lightning or in rain, and, if the bills got too soggy, it would be on my conscience, because the plastic bag kept the rolls from losing any of their crunchiness.
I wonder how many people waited as I did for him. No doubt, we were a good number. There was a market for his rolls – nothing of value ever loses demand.
And so he must have done his utmost to have the item in stock to give the many households their daily fill, keep above the competition, and assure himself of a constant, if not an increasing, demand.
Even so, there must have been a time, although I myself do not remember it, perhaps it happened before we dealt with each other, when the bakery equipment broke down, or the flour ran out, or the baker got sick or eloped. And there was barely enough bread for even just a few households. How then to satisfy the many others waiting with their coffee, equally obsessed with getting their rolls?
A somewhat similar dilemma, although on a grander scale and under vastly different circumstances, faced Jesus and the apostles. In his Gospel, John tells us that, having seen him miraculously heal the sick, a large crowd followed Jesus to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Upon seeing the people arriving, Jesus asked where they could buy bread to feed them all. Philip pointed to its impossibility, citing the cost. And Andrew added to Philip’s gloom by saying that all he could find was a boy who had five loaves and two fish.
But Jesus had the people sit down. The men alone numbered five thousand. Jesus took the boy’s loaves, gave thanks and distributed them to the people. He did the same with the fish. When the dust cleared, not only was every mouth satisfied, there still remained twelve baskets of broken pieces. Because of this the people wanted to seize Jesus to make him king, but he went up the mountainside.
I am amazed that, in the midst of his preaching and healing, Jesus did not forget a basic human need – food. In the prayer that he taught, he included among the petitions that the Father give us our daily bread. When they got too busy, Jesus brought the apostles to a quiet place so they could rest – and eat. And one morning after the Resurrection, he prepared breakfast for the apostles who had gone fishing.
Of course, on the evening before he died, he instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, by turning the bread and wine into his body and blood. Since then, he has kept his presence in the bread and wine for the faithful to feed themselves with his body during the Holy Mass, and during the day to worship him in the consecrated host kept inside the tabernacle.
I can only speculate what the seller of rolls did when he found that there was very little bread or no bread at all to distribute. But I would not be surprised if, faced with the dilemma, he went inside a church to pray, not just for bread, but to the Bread – the True Bread, the inexhaustible Bread for all seasons, the Bread of Life.
More from this Column:
- At the Burgos cathedral
- The persistence of memory
- Round as tomatoes
- The name of the rose
- The Third man