Ahmad Sampang ibnu Hajiri, MD

A Personal blog by a Tausug medical student (now a doctor!) from Sulu and the stories that inspired him.
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        One of those days when I was in Pandami’, Sulu where my ancestors had once lived, a wonderful inspiration came to me through two of the most unusual ways: by a small stone and a little lad.

        I was walking through the thick bushes that afternoon, in one of my great grandfather’s well treasured land. I was hoping to find peace in listening to birds chirping up high on the trees, or with the wind that is softly touching my face, and even by pondering at the great wonder and mystery those gigantic trees have to offer (all of these are wonderful blessings from Allah, Alhamdulillah).

        Along the way, I spotted a little boy not far from where I was. He was wearing a red bandana in his head, covering his short, black curly hairs. His thin body was plastered by his white shirt that had grown old and had turned to another color which I cannot name. A small taguban (a sheath) made of short bamboo, with its side having sliced open for the utak (a small kind of blade used in farming) to hang on, was attached with a rope to his tattered shorts. A small utak can be seen loosely placed in its sheath. The kid was busy scraping at the ground, apparently looking for small stones for his pitikan, a home-made slingshot Tausug boys in our place always bring with them. He stood up, aimed his pitikan to nowhere in particular, and released the stretched rubber, sending stones upon stones flying in the air. He had already made a few shots when I went to him and asked if he had already captured a target. (It’s always a small bird or a bat, but either way would unlikely make me happy.)

        He answered in a confident tone, being proud having someone like me getting interested in his little game. He said “I am not hitting anything, kakah. I am just trying to send these stones back to where they belonged, up there in the mountains.” Then he started looking around for more stones to reload his pitikan made from a branch of guava tree.

        I was still trying to reflect on what this kid had just said. Trying to send these stones to the mountains? To where they really belonged? I am now weighing the possibility of his sanity being unbalanced and a little pang of nervousness ran through my spines. But I moved on, letting my curiosity get the best of it. I came closer to that lad, who is now aiming another shot to the mountains. And just like highly trained, sharpshooters I often see in movies, he released his trigger-hand with delicate certainty that he will surely hit his target; this time sending stones up flying in the air, to a place where they really belonged to.

    “Your crazy, utuh!” I told him, frankly “There’s a million of these stones! You cannot possibly send them all back to the mountains! And besides, tomorrow or the next day to come, they will always fall back here again. You cannot change that, my brother.” I was trying to shake the word ‘sanity’ into this lad.

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just saying. -Dr. Ahmad