My interviewer looked straight on the road ahead. He never appeared perturbed with these doctrines I was telling him about as if he was familiar with them, not even asking me to explain or clarify a point. When discussing with me, he never expressed any awe, wonder or disbelief. He never paused to think of what he wanted to ask nor did he display any hesitation: "uhm”, "uh huh”, "let me think about that". All his questions were straight to the point, as if he were a professional interviewer, having heard and being familiar with all the correct answers. After his second question, I already surmised that he was not an ordinary teen-ager.
We talked and we talked, mostly me, answering his questions. I was starting to get tired and I when I looked at him, he was still bouncing with energy and I thought he was going to outlast me.
Then he put one hand in his pocket and offered me a piece of candy. I was weighing the pros and cons of accepting the candy because I was trying to limit my intake of sweets to prevent tooth decay. On the other hand, I thought, it might not be a good example to refuse a gesture of kindness from this teen-aged boy, so, I took the candy.
It was wrapped in a dark yellow-orange plastic candy wrapper. I didn't bother reading the name because it was the sort of hard candy which can be bought anywhere, popular with both children and adults. I unwrapped it, folded the wrapper into my pocket, and placed the candy into my mouth.
I had eaten a lot of this kind of hard candy before since I was a kid and occasionally as a student so I was a bit surprised that, though it tasted chocolatey alright, it was a bit bland. Moreover, it was not as sweet as I expected it to be. I sucked on the candy knowing that its core was soft with chewy chocolate inside. Well, it was not the case because the candy was not like I had expected it to be.
Immediately I felt refreshed, not the kind you would feel when you had a good night's sleep but the feeling one has after doing a very light warm-up exercise. I forgot all about feeling tired; I thought it had all been my imagination telling me I was tired, but after sitting and talking for several hours during the trip, I thought it could hardly be so. Before I could wonder some more where I got my energy, the boy asked me if I believed in aliens and UFOs.
“Well”, I said feeling refreshed and ready for another round of questions, “if you look at the night sky, there are millions, even billions of stars. Among these billions of stars, there are solar systems, and in these solar systems, there's a possibility that some planets are habitable to life. Besides, there are scientists who believe in life on other planets, and if there are, they are more advanced and intelligent than us.”
We talked and talked, not about trivial things, but about other esoteric subjects. When he seemed to have satisfied his curiosity or accomplished his aim, he asked a question which I felt was just to test my general knowledge.
He asked in a very innocent manner, “Why is it that my feet, under water, will sink in sand, while they don't if I'm on the beach?”
It was a good thing I read a science article on the Reader's Digest sometime ago. Now, I was thinking how I was going to explain surface tension to him if I did not exactly know the properties behind it, when I realized that if he was able to ask questions about religion and the meaning of life, how could he not know the answer?
“Surface tension”, I said.
He nodded, displaying a smile of satisfaction on his face.
After a while, we were in Quezon City and I was nearing my stop. Probably, he was staying somewhere in Manila so he would be alighting from the bus later. I told him that I was getting off at the next bus stop, and we said our goodbyes.
I still had to take a taxi to reach home, but it was not a big problem.
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