I Almost Died on this Spot

by Oliver Carlos

When I was in Grade 5, one of my favorite subjects was Agriculture. Our teacher was Mr. Mario Miranda. He’s tall, curly haired and sported a thick moustache like Super Mario of the computer game. I find him cool. He’s so knowledgeable about plants. I learned something new in our every class. He’s pretty hands-on too as a teacher. There’s a big garden at the back of our school building where we cultivated crops under his supervision.

A talinum look-alike plant once grew here on this spot. (photo by Jet Castillo)

The most mesmerizing moment in our Agriculture class was when he demonstrated that some leaves or plants can be eaten raw, without cooking them. One day, he showed us a talinum plant (Talinum fruticosum) on the ground. In view of the whole class, he plucked a couple of leaves and chewed it in front of us. After gulping it, he asked us to do the same. Out of astonishment curiosity, I followed his example.

The talinum plant looks like pechay but with little pink flowers. The leaves when chewed tasted like pechay too, it’s just a little bit bland but juicier. The juice was colorless, and it would come out in every chew.

The following weekend, I attended our Sunday school class at the old Lasmarias yard. At break time, we played around, and I saw what looked like a talinum plant. It’s just outside the main door and it’s planted beside the gate. It looked exactly the same as the one in school, it also had those pink flowers. My eyes grew big in delight. I saw this as an opportunity to show off to my peers. I called my siblings, cousins and other kids to gather around the plant.

Then I told them to watch what I will do. I plucked a handful of leaves and chewed them in their presence. But unlike my school experience, the juice that came out of the plant wasn’t colorless, but it was white like milk. Nonetheless, I continued my show, and swallowed the leaves. After about a minute, I felt dizzy and my vision was almost blanked out. I felt so weak and I was about to faint. The other kids called Auntie Paz and Auntie Vicky. They made me swallow lots and lots of sugar. Soon I regained some consciousness. I was sent home and there, Mommy gave me more sugar to eat.

Mommy asked me what I ate. I told her everything including Mr. Miranda’s inspiring demonstration. I think Mom went over to the place and checked out the plant I ate. When she came back, she told me that it wasn’t talinum I ate, but a poisonous plant! They just looked so similar to each other. Mom was also a plant expert. I thank God that help came just at the right time.

This misadventure is a perfect illustration of Proverbs 14:12 (NLT):

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.”

In life, we will encounter decisions that seems right or harmless, but in reality, they are disastrous. What makes us fall into these traps? It’s because our hearts are gullible. If we’re riding too much on emotions, we might see this or that as the decision that is good for us.

The best thing to do is to go to the ultimate “life expert.” Ask God. Talk to him in prayer, try to listen to his still soft voice. Consult the Bible and people who are your kuya or ate in the faith. Be patient and don’t be in a hurry. Determine if what you are about to do is really God’s will, or maybe just your will? It’s better to take careful and calculated steps because like the talinum and the poison plant, bad decisions may look exactly like the good decisions.