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My Father's Tragedy
by Carlos Bulosan It was one of those lean years of our lives. Our rice field was destroyed by locusts that came from the neighboring towns. When the locusts were gone, we planted string beans but a fire burned the whole plantation. My brothers went away because they got tired working for nothing. Mother and my sisters went from house to house, asking for something to do, but every family was plagued with some kind of disaster. The children walked in the streets looking for the fruit that fell to the ground from the acacia tree. The men hung on the fence around the market and watched the meat dealers hungrily. We were all suffering from lack of proper food. But the professional gamblers had money. They sat in the fish house at the station and gave their orders aloud. The loafers and other bystanders watched them eat boiled rice and fried fish with silver spoons. They never used forks because the prongs stuck between their teeth. They always cut their lips and tongues with the knives, so they never asked for them. If the waiter was new and he put the knives on the table, they looked at each other furtively and slipped them into their pockets. They washed their hands in one big wooden bowl of water and wiped their mouths with the leaves of the arbor trees that fell on the ground. The rainy season was approaching. There were rumors of famine. The grass did not grow and our carabao became thin. Father‘s fighting cock, Burick, was practically the only healthy thing in our household. Its father, Kanaway, had won a house for us some three years before, and Fathers had commanded me to give it the choicest rice. He took the soft-boiled eggs from the plate of my sister Marcela, who was sick with meningitis that year. He was preparing Burick for something big, but the great catastrophe came to our town. The peasants and most of the rich men spent their money on food. They had stopped going to the cockpit for fear of temptation; if they went at all, they just sat in the gallery and shouted at the top of their lungs. They went home with their heads down, thinking of the money they would have won. It was during this impasse that Father sat every day in our backyard with his fighting
cock. He would not go anywhere. He would not do anything. He just sat there caressing Burick and exercising his legs. He spat at his hackles and rubbed them, looking far away with a big dream. When mother came home with some food, he went to the granary and sat there till evening. Sometimes he slept there with Burick, but at dawn the cock woke him up with its majestic crowing. He crept into the house and fumbled for the cold rice in the pot under the stove. Then, he put the cock in the pen and slept on the bench all day. Mother was very patient. But the day came when she kicked him off the bench. He fell on the floor face down, looked up at her, and then resumed his sleep. Mother took my sister Francisca with her. They went from house to house in the neighborhood, pounding rice for some people and hauling drinking water for others. They came home with their share in a big basket that Mother carried on her head. Father was still sleeping on the bench when they arrived. Mother told my sister to cook some of the rice. The dipped a cup in the jar and splashed the cold water on Father‘s face. He jumped up, looked at mother with anger, and went to Burick‘s pen. He gathered the cock in his arms and went down the porch. He sat on a log in the backyard and started caressing his fighting cock. Mother went on with her washing. Francisca fed Marcela with some boiled rice. Father was still caressing Burick. Mother was mad at him. ―Is that all you can do?‖ she shouted at him. ―Why do you say that to me?‖ Father said, ―I‘m thinking of some ways to become rich.‖ Mother threw a piece of wood at the cock. Father saw her in time. He ducked and covered the cock with his body. The wood struck him. It cut a hole at the base of his head. He got up and examined Burick. He acted as though the cock were the one that got hurt. He looked up at Mother and his face was pitiful. ―Why don‘t you see what you are doing?‖ he said, hugging Burick.
Mother looked sharply atme. He had come from one of the neighboring towns to seek his fortune in our cockpit. I put some water in my mouth and blew it into his face. She tucked her skirt between her legs and went on with her work.‖ I rand down the street with the cock. Burcio was testing Burick‘s strength. looking sharply at Burick‘s eyes. I ran back to our house slapping the water off my clothes. There was a strange man who had a black fighting cock. ―Take good care of it. I ran down the ladder and went to the granary. Sir. ―Yes. .‖ I said. It was Sunday. ―That‘s his fortune. Come back right away. He sparred with it. pressing down the cock‘s back with his hands.‖ mother said. idiot!‖ she said.‖ I watched her eyes move foolishly. I thought she would cry.‖ I said. I plunged into the water in my clothes and swam with Burick. Father and I went to the cockpit. Father picked it up and spread its wings. ― You are becoming more like your father every day.‖ he said.―I would like to wring that cock‘s neck. There were peasants and teachers. ―Go to the river and exercise its legs. ―Shut up. son. He put it on the ground and bent over it. We are going to town. watching Burcio‘s deft hands expertly moving around Burick. His name was Burcio. where Father was treating the wound on his head. I held the cock for him. He threw it in the air and watched it glide smoothly to the ground. avoiding the pigs and dogs that came in my way. He held her our cock above his head and closed one eye. The black cock pecked at his legs and stopped to crow proudly for the bystanders. but there were many loafers and gamblers at the place. The loafers and gamblers formed a ring around them. Father also tested the cock of Burcio.
‖ Father said. We returned to our house with some hope. I . but inventors. He looked around at his cronies. ―It‘s too soon for my Burick. They were not bettors. A light of hope appeared in his face. I found a fish pond under the camachile tree. All at once the men broke into wild confusion. others went to Father. The peasants broke from the ring and hid behind the coconut trees. Mother was cooking something good. They slipped some money in his hand and pushed him toward Burcio. It was one of his many tricks with money. It was the favorite haunt of snails and shrimps. Their money would back up the cocks at the cockpit. ―Shall we make it this coming Sunday?‖ Burcio asked. He tried to estimate the amount of money in his hand by balling it hard. The caressing rustle of the paper money was inaudible. But it was empty. The bystanders knew that a fight was about to be matched. They felf the edges of the coins with amazing swiftness and accuracy. He knew right away that he had some twenty-peso bills. His hand moved mechanically into his pocket. Some went to Burcio with their money. Only a highly magnified amplifier could have recorded the tiny clink of the coins that fell between deft fingers. But two of the peasants caught Father‘s arm and whispered something to him. They rolled the paper money in their hands and returned to the crowd. I ran down the road with mounting joy. They waited for the final decision.‖ he said. They unfolded their handkerchiefs and counted their money. I smelled it the moment I entered the gate. In the late afternoon the fight was arranged.feeling the tough hide beneath the feathers. Father put Burick in the pen and told me to go to the fish ponds across the river. They counted the money in their pockets without showing it to their neighbors. Then I went home. ―This coming Sunday is all right.
rushed into the house and spilled some of the snails on the floor. I knew that our poultry house in the village was empty. Mother put the rice on a big wooden platter and set it on the table she filled our plates with chicken meat and ginger. ―Where did you get this lovely chicken?‖ he asked. I could hear him running toward the highway. She was stirring the ladle in the boiling pot. Father tilted his plate and took the soup noisily. She gave me some bitter melons. She put the breast on a plate and told Francisca to give it to Marcela. He put the empty plate near the pot and asked for some chicken meat. Father was still sleeping on the bench.‖ he said. Father was reaching for the white meat in the platter when Mother slapped his hand away. Mother was cooking chicken with some bitter melons. It rolled into the space between the bamboo splits and fell on the ground. The drumstick fell from his mouth. Then we put our legs under the table and started eating. Francisca was feeding Marcela with hot soup. Father‘s face broke in great agony. She was saying grace. as though he were drinking wine. He rushed outside the house. ―It is good chicken. Mother was at the stove. He usually ate more rice when we had only salted fish and some leaves of tress. We had no poultry in town. I put the nails and shrimps in a pot and sat on the bench. My . Father opened his eyes when he heard the bubbling pot. Francisca sat by the stove. Father filled his plate twice and ate very little rice. Our dog snapped it and ran away. Mother was very quiet. Father put his hand in the pot and fished out a drumstick. Father got up suddenly and went to the table. We ate ―grass‖ most of the time. ―Where do you think I got it?‖ Mother said. It was our first tatse of chicken in a long time. I sat wondering where she got it.
Son?‖ Mother said." "She does not seem to be in much of a hurry either. man wooed maid. He could not understand those months of a great hunger that was not of the body nor yet of the mind. ―What are you doing. "How can a woman be in a hurry when the man does not hurry her?" Carmen returned." she said with good-natured contempt. Was he being cheated by life? Love--he seemed to have missed it. "What I mean is that at the beginning he was enthusiastic--flowers. Esperanza. but my appetite was gone. Alfredo is not very specific. but I understand Esperanza wants it to be next month. He has not had another love affair that I know of. pinching off a worm with a careful. I wonder. Julia." Carmen sighed impatiently. serenades. "Why is he not a bit more decided." Don Julian nasally commented. notes. the years to come even now beginning to weigh down. The tranquil murmur of conversation issued from the brick-tiled azotea where Don Julian and Carmen were busy puttering away among the rose pots. is he not? And still a bachelor! Esperanza must be tired waiting. That was less than four years ago. "Papa. and when will the 'long table' be set?" "I don't know yet. diffused into formless melancholy. do you remember how much in love he was?" "In love? With whom?" "With Esperanza. a craving that had seized on him one quiet night when the moon was abroad and under the dappled shadow of the trees in the plaza. He is over thirty. quietly enveloping him.sister continued eating. "Papa. stealing into his very thought. while his rose scissors busily snipped away.‖ Dead Stars By Paz Marquez Benitez THROUGH the open window the air-steeped outdoors passed into his room. Or . somewhat absent air. of course. and things like that--" Alfredo remembered that period with a wonder not unmixed with shame. the sorry mess he had made of life. ―Eat your chicken. to crush--they lost concreteness.
was the love that others told about a mere fabrication of perfervid imagination, an exaggeration of the commonplace, a glorification of insipid monotonies such as made up his love life? Was love a combination of circumstances, or sheer native capacity of soul? In those days love was, for him, still the eternal puzzle; for love, as he knew it, was a stranger to love as he divined it might be. Sitting quietly in his room now, he could almost revive the restlessness of those days, the feeling of tumultuous haste, such as he knew so well in his boyhood when something beautiful was going on somewhere and he was trying to get there in time to see. "Hurry, hurry, or you will miss it," someone had seemed to urge in his ears. So he had avidly seized on the shadow of Love and deluded himself for a long while in the way of humanity from time immemorial. In the meantime, he became very much engaged to Esperanza. Why would men so mismanage their lives? Greed, he thought, was what ruined so many. Greed--the desire to crowd into a moment all the enjoyment it will hold, to squeeze from the hour all the emotion it will yield. Men commit themselves when but half-meaning to do so, sacrificing possible future fullness of ecstasy to the craving for immediate excitement. Greed--mortgaging the future--forcing the hand of Time, or of Fate. "What do you think happened?" asked Carmen, pursuing her thought. "I supposed long-engaged people are like that; warm now, cool tomorrow. I think they are oftener cool than warm. The very fact that an engagement has been allowed to prolong itself argues a certain placidity of temperament--or of affection--on the part of either, or both." Don Julian loved to philosophize. He was talking now with an evident relish in words, his resonant, very nasal voice toned down to monologue pitch. "That phase you were speaking of is natural enough for a beginning. Besides, that, as I see it, was Alfredo's last race with escaping youth--" Carmen laughed aloud at the thought of her brother's perfect physical repose--almost indolence--disturbed in the role suggested by her father's figurative language. "A last spurt of hot blood," finished the old man. Few certainly would credit Alfredo Salazar with hot blood. Even his friends had amusedly diagnosed his blood as cool and thin, citing incontrovertible evidence. Tall and slender, he moved with an indolent ease that verged on grace. Under straight recalcitrant hair, a thin face with a satisfying breadth of forehead, slow, dreamer's eyes, and astonishing freshness of lips--indeed Alfredo Salazar's appearance betokened little of exuberant masculinity; rather a poet with wayward humor, a fastidious artist with keen, clear brain. He rose and quietly went out of the house. He lingered a moment on the stone steps; then went down the path shaded by immature acacias, through the little tarred gate
which he left swinging back and forth, now opening, now closing, on the gravel road bordered along the farther side by madre cacao hedge in tardy lavender bloom. The gravel road narrowed as it slanted up to the house on the hill, whose wide, open porches he could glimpse through the heat-shrivelled tamarinds in the Martinez yard. Six weeks ago that house meant nothing to him save that it was the Martinez house, rented and occupied by Judge del Valle and his family. Six weeks ago Julia Salas meant nothing to him; he did not even know her name; but now-One evening he had gone "neighboring" with Don Julian; a rare enough occurrence, since he made it a point to avoid all appearance of currying favor with the Judge. This particular evening however, he had allowed himself to be persuaded. "A little mental relaxation now and then is beneficial," the old man had said. "Besides, a judge's good will, you know;" the rest of the thought--"is worth a rising young lawyer's trouble"--Don Julian conveyed through a shrug and a smile that derided his own worldly wisdom. A young woman had met them at the door. It was evident from the excitement of the Judge's children that she was a recent and very welcome arrival. In the characteristic Filipino way formal introductions had been omitted--the judge limiting himself to a casual "Ah, ya se conocen?"--with the consequence that Alfredo called her Miss del Valle throughout the evening. He was puzzled that she should smile with evident delight every time he addressed her thus. Later Don Julian informed him that she was not the Judge's sister, as he had supposed, but his sister-in-law, and that her name was Julia Salas. A very dignified rather austere name, he thought. Still, the young lady should have corrected him. As it was, he was greatly embarrassed, and felt that he should explain. To his apology, she replied, "That is nothing, Each time I was about to correct you, but I remembered a similar experience I had once before." "Oh," he drawled out, vastly relieved. "A man named Manalang--I kept calling him Manalo. After the tenth time or so, the young man rose from his seat and said suddenly, 'Pardon me, but my name is Manalang, Manalang.' You know, I never forgave him!" He laughed with her. "The best thing to do under the circumstances, I have found out," she pursued, "is to pretend not to hear, and to let the other person find out his mistake without help." "As you did this time. Still, you looked amused every time I--" "I was thinking of Mr. Manalang."
Don Julian and his uncommunicative friend, the Judge, were absorbed in a game of chess. The young man had tired of playing appreciative spectator and desultory conversationalist, so he and Julia Salas had gone off to chat in the vine-covered porch. The lone piano in the neighborhood alternately tinkled and banged away as the player's moods altered. He listened, and wondered irrelevantly if Miss Salas could sing; she had such a charming speaking voice. He was mildly surprised to note from her appearance that she was unmistakably a sister of the Judge's wife, although Doña Adela was of a different type altogether. She was small and plump, with wide brown eyes, clearly defined eyebrows, and delicately modeled hips--a pretty woman with the complexion of a baby and the expression of a likable cow. Julia was taller, not so obviously pretty. She had the same eyebrows and lips, but she was much darker, of a smooth rich brown with underlying tones of crimson which heightened the impression she gave of abounding vitality. On Sunday mornings after mass, father and son would go crunching up the gravel road to the house on the hill. The Judge's wife invariably offered them beer, which Don Julian enjoyed and Alfredo did not. After a half hour or so, the chessboard would be brought out; then Alfredo and Julia Salas would go out to the porch to chat. She sat in the low hammock and he in a rocking chair and the hours--warm, quiet March hours-sped by. He enjoyed talking with her and it was evident that she liked his company; yet what feeling there was between them was so undisturbed that it seemed a matter of course. Only when Esperanza chanced to ask him indirectly about those visits did some uneasiness creep into his thoughts of the girl next door. Esperanza had wanted to know if he went straight home after mass. Alfredo suddenly realized that for several Sundays now he had not waited for Esperanza to come out of the church as he had been wont to do. He had been eager to go "neighboring." He answered that he went home to work. And, because he was not habitually untruthful, added, "Sometimes I go with Papa to Judge del Valle's." She dropped the topic. Esperanza was not prone to indulge in unprovoked jealousies. She was a believer in the regenerative virtue of institutions, in their power to regulate feeling as well as conduct. If a man were married, why, of course, he loved his wife; if he were engaged, he could not possibly love another woman. That half-lie told him what he had not admitted openly to himself, that he was giving Julia Salas something which he was not free to give. He realized that; yet something that would not be denied beckoned imperiously, and he followed on. It was so easy to forget up there, away from the prying eyes of the world, so easy and so poignantly sweet. The beloved woman, he standing close to her, the shadows around, enfolding. "Up here I find--something--"
he lived only the present. his voice somewhat indistinct." Was he becoming a poet. too trodden by feet. Carmen also came with her four energetic children. yet had they been so deep in the living." "I could study you all my life and still not find it." quickly. so charged with compelling power and sweetness." "So long?" "I should like to. "that is so brief--" "Not in some. Sensing unwanted intensity. with such a willful shutting out of fact as astounded him in his calmer moments.He and Julia Salas stood looking out into the she quiet night. laughed." he had continued. "the road is too broad. After the merienda. or with unmatched socks." "Down there" beyond the ancient tamarinds lay the road. day by day. Because neither the past nor the future had relevance or meaning. lived it intensely. "Mystery--" she answered lightly. rich green"--while the . asking. upturned to the stars. "Amusement?" "No. bringing elusive. how Doña Adela's Dionisio was the most absentminded of men. close set. Don Julian invited the judge and his family to spend Sunday afternoon at Tanda where he had a coconut plantation and a house on the beach. sometimes going out without his collar. In the darkness the fireflies glimmered. too barren of mystery." Those six weeks were now so swift--seeming in the memory. She and Doña Adela spent most of the time indoors directing the preparation of the merienda and discussing the likeable absurdities of their husbands--how Carmen's Vicente was so absorbed in his farms that he would not even take time off to accompany her on this visit to her father. "Not in you. youth--its spirit--" "Are you so old?" "And heart's desire. Don Julian sauntered off with the judge to show him what a thriving young coconut looked like--"plenty of leaves. while an errant breeze strayed in from somewhere. faraway sounds as of voices in a dream. woman-like. so the mystery." "You have known me a few weeks. Just before Holy Week. or is there a poet lurking in the heart of every man? "Down there.
and whipped the tucked-up skirt around her straight. I think. convoyed by Julia Salas." "The last? Why?" "Oh. of a thoughtful. found unending entertainment in the rippling sand left by the ebbing tide. "This. "The afternoon has seemed very short. The girl had grace. of naturalness. calm and placid. In the picture was something of eager freedom as of wings poised in flight. arched. "Very much. "A man is happier if he is.children. It looks like home to me. indistinctly outlined against the gray of the out-curving beach." he said with a questioning inflection. except that we do not have such a lovely beach. of an alert vitality of mind and body." He noted an evasive quality in the answer. Here were her footsteps. yet she had a tantalizing charm. you never look it. is the last time-we can visit." he said after a meditative pause." There was a breeze from the water. Alfredo left his perch on the bamboo ladder of the house and followed. They were far down." "Not perspiring or breathless. narrow. sunny temper. too unhurried." . then smiled with frank pleasure. an achievement of the spirit. and of a piquant perverseness which is sauce to charm. and calm." "But--" "Always unhurried. When he came up. The lure was there. all the more compelling because it was an inner quality. as a busy man ought to be. "Do I seem especially industrious to you?" "If you are. she flushed. you will be too busy perhaps. hasn't it?" Then. slender figure. "I wish that were true. Her face was not notably pretty. as you say. distinction. He laughed at himself for his black canvas footwear which he removed forthwith and tossed high up on dry sand. She waited." She smiled to herself. It blew the hair away from her forehead. "I hope you are enjoying this. walking at the edge of the water.
" It was strange to him that he could be wooing thus: with tone and look and covert phrase." "I will not go. and sometimes squashes." She laughed. "I'll inquire about--" "What?" "The house of the prettiest girl in the town. no!" "You said I am calm and placid. of course. Shows how little we know ourselves. It made her seem less detached. yet withal more distant. There isn't even one American there!" "Well--Americans are rather essential to my entertainment." "There is nothing to see--little crooked streets."Like a carabao in a mud pool." "That is what I think. "We live on Calle Luz." she retorted perversely "Who? I?" "Oh." ." "Will you come? You will find it dull. as if that background claimed her and excluded him. a little street with trees." That was the background. bunut roofs with ferns growing on them. me? But I am here. "I should like to see your home town. less unrelated." "Oh." she smiled teasingly. until you are there." "I used to think so too." "Could I find that?" "If you don't ask for Miss del Valle. "Nothing? There is you.
" "Always?" Toward the west." The end of an impossible dream! "When?" after a long silence. of course you are right." "It is. but I want to. glinting streamer of crimsoned gold." he averred slowly. They want me to spend Holy Week at home. "Now." "There is no time. "Exactly. "That is why I said this is the last time. that is not quite sincere." "Why did you say this is the last time?" he asked quietly as they turned back. "No. at least. "Tomorrow. but emphatically. would not say such things." ."There is where you will lose your way. "I thought you." "Can't I come to say good-bye?" "Oh. maybe." "Pretty--pretty--a foolish word! But there is none other more handy I did not mean that quite--" "Are you withdrawing the compliment?" "Re-enforcing it." She seemed to be waiting for him to speak." "It must be ugly. the sunlight lay on the dimming waters in a broad. Something is pretty when it pleases the eye--it is more than that when--" "If it saddens?" she interrupted hastily. you don't need to!" "No." Then she turned serious. I received a letter from Father and Mother yesterday. "I am going home.
now circled by swallows gliding in flight as smooth and soft as the afternoon itself. farther on." II ALFREDO Salazar turned to the right where. a peace that is not contentment but a cessation of tumult when all violence of feeling tones down to the wistful serenity of regret. shortening. This is Elsewhere. I cannot get rid of the old things." "Old things?" "Oh. Above the measured music rose the untutored voices of the choir. but he heard her voice say very low. At his touch. He walked close. Into the quickly deepening twilight. Soon a double row of lights emerged from the church and uncoiled down the length of the street like a huge jewelled band studded with glittering clusters where the saints' platforms were. young women in vivid apparel (for this was Holy Thursday and the Lord was still alive)." He said it lightly. the road broadened and entered the heart of the town--heart of Chinese stores sheltered under low-hung roofs. heart of grass-grown plaza reposeful with trees. old baggage. the girl turned her face away. Came too the young men in droves. This is almost like another life. heirlooms from a day when grasspith wicks floating in coconut oil were the chief lighting device.The golden streamer was withdrawing. Flocking came the devout with their long wax candles. elbowing each other under the talisay tree near the church door. his hand sometimes touching hers for one whirling second. "Home seems so far from here. and yet strange enough. a vibrant quiet that affects the senses as does solemn harmony. "Good-bye. mistakes. the voice of the biggest of the church bells kept ringing its insistent summons. Stillness. in her dark eyes a ghost of sunset sadness. She turned and looked into his face. of indolent drug stores and tailor shops. encumbrances. The gaily decked rice-paper lanterns were again on display while from the windows of the older houses hung colored glass globes. heart of old brick-roofed houses with quaint hand-and-ball knockers on the door. ." "I know. until it looked no more than a pool far away at the rim of the world. old things. steeped in incense and the acrid fumes of burning wax. and a cluttered goldsmith's cubbyhole where a consumptive bent over a magnifying lens. of ancient church and convento. older women in sober black skirts. unwilling to mar the hour. of dingy shoe-repairing establishments. Don Julian's nasal summons came to them on the wind. Alfredo gripped the soft hand so near his own.
The sight of Esperanza and her mother sedately pacing behind Our Lady of Sorrows suddenly destroyed the illusion of continuity and broke up those lines of light into component individuals. Alfredo's slow blood began to beat violently. "No." "Oh. wending its circuitous route away from the church and then back again. "I wish to congratulate you." The provincial docket had been cleared." he said in a voice that was both excited and troubled. maybe. yet had no place in the completed ordering of his life. whose voices now echoed from the arched ceiling. It was past eight." Her tone told him that she had learned. and Esperanza would be expecting him in a little while: yet the thought did not hurry him as he said "Good evening" and fell into step with the girl. Her glance of abstracted devotion fell on him and came to a brief stop. and with her the priest and the choir." she broke into his silence." rose lazily into a clear sky. Along the still densely shadowed streets the young women with their rear guard of males loitered and. A round orange moon. Toward the end of the row of Chinese stores. all processions end. The line moved on. "huge as a winnowing basket. The bells rang the close of the procession. That was inevitable. A girl was coming down the line--a girl that was striking. he caught up with Julia Salas. where. At last Our Lady of Sorrows entered the church. The crowd had dispersed into the side streets. my sister asked me to stay until they are ready to go. and could not. whitening the iron roofs and dimming the lanterns at the windows. and vividly alive. "I had been thinking all this time that you had gone. took the longest way home. leaving Calle Real to those who lived farther out. is the Judge going?" "Yes. "Mr. irregularly. Esperanza stiffened self-consciously. the woman that could cause violent commotion in his heart. "For what?" . at last. Salazar. Suddenly. As lawyer--and as lover--Alfredo had found that out long before. tried to look unaware. according to the old proverb. and Judge del Valle had been assigned elsewhere. The line kept moving on.
after a long pause. indifferently. at the road's end the lighted windows of the house on the hill. a wish that. He heard nothing to enlighten him. He listened not so much to what she said as to the nuances in her voice." she said with disdain. and that this woman by his side were his long wedded wife. that all the bewilderments of the present were not. returning with him to the peace of home. thoughtful manner." he replied briefly. almost detached from personality." she said. except that she had reverted to the formal tones of early acquaintance. surely." he said in his slow. I am just asking. "May is the month of happiness they say. "Would you come?" "Why not?" "No reason. with what seemed to him a shade of irony." she continued. Yet what could he say that would not offend? "I should have offered congratulations long before. yes. "Then I ask you. suggesting potentialities of song. that house were his." The gravel road lay before them. but you know mere visitors are slow about getting the news. "Julita." Some explanation was due her. flexible and vibrant." "Would you come if I asked you?" "When is it going to be?" "May. Then you will?" "If you will ask me. simply the old voice--cool."For your approaching wedding. No revelation there. "Are weddings interesting to you?" he finally brought out quietly "When they are of friends. "They say. "did you ever have to choose between something you wanted to do and something you had to do?" "No!" ." "Then I will be there. There swept over the spirit of Alfredo Salazar a longing so keen that it was pain." slowly.
Julita. Esperanza no longer young. spare of arms and of breast. perfect understanding between the parents." "But then why--why--" her muffled voice came. a woman dressed with self-conscious care. we are at the house." Esperanza insisted in her thin. Had the final word been said? He wondered. nervously pitched voice. with a slight convexity to thin throat. light and clear of complexion. At a pause he drawled out to fill in the gap: "Well. because it no longer depends on him. and with a kind of aversion which he tried to control. "She is not married to him. He looked attentively at her where she sat on the sofa. she was always herself. We never thought she would turn out bad. Salazar. Perhaps not. But there is a point where a thing escapes us and rushes downward of its own weight." he pursued when she did not answer. a woman distinctly not average. the literal-minded. a very near wedding. then you could understand a man who was in such a situation." "You are fortunate. She was one of those fortunate women who have the gift of uniformly acceptable appearance. Esperanza the efficient. Yet a feeble flutter of hope trembled in his mind though set against that hope were three years of engagement. Mr. a woman past first bloom." Without lifting her eyes she quickly turned and walked away. and Esperanza herself--Esperanza waiting. what do I know? That is his problem after all. even elegance." What had Calixta done? Homely. "Besides. She never surprised one with unexpected homeliness nor with startling reserves of beauty. middle-aged Calixta? ."I thought maybe you had had that experience. She was pursuing an indignant relation about something or other. Alfredo perceived. appraisingly. understanding imperfectly. in church. Nanay practically brought her up. "Oh. what of it?" The remark sounded ruder than he had intended. At home. on the street. so he merely half-listened. dragging us along. "Is--is this man sure of what he should do?" "I don't know. their note-carrier. Then it is foolish to ask whether one will or will not." "Doesn't it--interest you?" "Why must it? I--I have to say good-bye. she should have thought of us. It had. his own conscience. something about Calixta. the intensely acquisitive.
"But do you approve?" "Of what?" "What she did. I see and hear what perhaps some are trying to keep from me. appalled by the passion in his voice. one does not dare--" . I am not blind." "Why shouldn't it be? You talked like an--immoral man." The blood surged into his very eyes and his hearing sharpened to points of acute pain. Am I injuring anybody? No? Then I am justified in my conscience." "No." Her voice trembled. "All I say is that it is not necessarily wicked. What people will say--what will they not say? What don't they say when long engagements are broken almost on the eve of the wedding? "Yes. "Why do you get angry? I do not understand you at all! I think I know why you have been indifferent to me lately." Her voice was tight with resentment. Living with a man to whom she is not married--is that it? It may be wrong."You are very positive about her badness. One would like to be fair to one's self first." he said hesitatingly. goaded by a deep. "one tries to be fair-according to his lights--but it is hard. What would she say next? "Why don't you speak out frankly before it is too late? You need not think of me and of what people will say." "She has injured us. diffidently. Alfredo was suffering as he could not remember ever having suffered before. Esperanza was always positive. or deaf. I am right. accumulated exasperation. "The trouble with you. as if merely thinking aloud." he commented dryly. She was ungrateful." "My ideas?" he retorted. and again it may not. But that is too easy. "Well?" He was suddenly impelled by a desire to disturb the unvexed orthodoxy of her mind. I did not know that your ideas were like that." indifferently. Esperanza. "The only test I wish to apply to conduct is the test of fairness. is that you are--" he stopped.
in time. the lonesomeness. as incidents that did not matter. the himself that had its being in the core of his thought. He had long realized that he could not forget Julia Salas. would. From his capacity of complete detachment he derived a strange solace. finds a certain restfulness in level paths made easy to his feet. He was supposed to be in Sta."What do you mean?" she asked with repressed violence. At such times did Esperanza feel baffled and helpless. The last word had been said. Belina et al had kept him. He felt no rebellion: only the calm of capitulation to what he recognized as irresistible forces of circumstance and of character. He was not unhappy in his marriage. He looks up sometimes from the valley where settles the dusk of evening. and the chill. he retreated into the inner fastness. no more struggles. That inner tumult was no surprise to him. he reflected. The climber of mountains who has known the back-break." Did she mean by this irrelevant remark that he it was who had sought her. Cruz whither the case of the People of the Philippine Islands vs. he had tried to be content and not to remember too much. When claims encroached too insistently. of my place. His life had simply ordered itself. to find a man. That the search was leading him to that particular lake town which was Julia Salas' home should not disturb him unduly Yet he was disturbed to a degree utterly out of proportion to the prosaicalness of his errand. I have never gone out of my way. "If you--suppose I--" Yet how could a mere man word such a plea? "If you mean you want to take back your word. III AS Alfredo Salazar leaned against the boat rail to watch the evening settling over the lake. even tender. The essential himself. . and from that vantage he saw things and people around him as remote and alien. he wondered if Esperanza would attribute any significance to this trip of his. he would cease even to look up. or was that a covert attack on Julia Salas? "Esperanza--" a desperate plea lay in his stumbling words. but he knows he must not heed the radiant beckoning. as sometimes they did. "Whatever my shortcomings. no more stirring up of emotions that got a man nowhere. and no doubt they are many in your eyes. but immeasurably far away. Maybe. always be free and alone. Still. if you are tired of--why don't you tell me you are tired of me?" she burst out in a storm of weeping that left him completely shamed and unnerved. he was gentle. beyond her reach. He had to find that elusive old woman. and there he would have been if Brigida Samuy had not been so important to the defense. in the last eight years he had become used to such occasional storms.
Señor Salazar's second letter had arrived late. How peaceful the town was! Here and there a little tienda was still open. so he had no way of knowing whether the presidente was there to meet him or not. "Go and meet the abogado and invite him to our house. That was the town." The thought of Julia Salas in that quiet place filled him with a pitying sadness. must do something for him. "Yes. A cot had been brought out and spread for him. found the boat settled into a somnolent quiet. but it was too bare to be inviting at that hour. From a distance came the shrill voices of children playing games on the street--tubigan perhaps. Just then a voice shouted. It was too early to sleep: he would walk around the town. An occasional couple sauntered by. lugubriously tolled from the bell tower. but the wife had read it and said. Peculiar hill inflections came to his ears from the crowd assembled to meet the boat--slow. He would sleep on board since the boat would leave at four the next morning anyway. There was a young moon which grew slowly luminous as the coral tints in the sky yielded to the darker blues of evening. he thought. characteristic of the Laguna lake-shore speech. Eight o'clock. On the outskirts the evening smudges glowed red through the sinuous mists of smoke that rose and lost themselves in the purple shadows of the hills." Alfredo Salazar courteously declined the invitation. trailing a wake of long golden ripples on the dark water.Lights were springing into life on the shore. . The presidente had left with Brigida Samuy--Tandang "Binday"--that noon for Santa Cruz. the presidente! He. "but he could not write because we heard that Tandang Binday was in San Antonio so we went there to find her. singing cadences. The vessel approached the landing quietly. A snubcrested belfry stood beside the ancient church. Alfredo. the women's chinelas making scraping sounds. From where he stood he could not distinguish faces. That must be the presidente. It was a policeman. and went down to the landing. a tall pock-marked individual." the policeman replied. or "hawk-and-chicken. a little up-tilted town nestling in the dark greenness of the groves. His heart beat faster as he picked his way to shore over the rafts made fast to sundry piles driven into the water." San Antonio was up in the hills! Good man. So the presidente had received his first letter? Alfredo did not know because that official had not sent an answer. "Is the abogado there? Abogado!" "What abogado?" someone irately asked. It was not every day that one met with such willingness to help. its dim light issuing forlornly through the single window which served as counter.
Oh! Are you in town?" "On some little business. far-away sounds as of voices in a dream--at times moved him to an oddly irresistible impulse to listen as to an insistent. He sensed rather than saw her start of vivid surprise. In the gardens the cotton tree threw its angular shadow athwart the low stone wall. someone came downstairs with a lighted candle to open the door. His vague plans had not included this. unfinished prayer. The young moon had set. Somehow or other. raising his hat. but his own felt undisturbed and emotionless. . She asked him about the home town. for her cheek darkened in a blush. Did she still care? The answer to the question hardly interested him. was not a conscious effort at regretful memory. though with a growing wonder that he should be there at all. sitting opposite her. "Won't you come up?" He considered. After a while. He conversed with increasing ease. maybe a recurrent awareness of irreplaceability. He could not take his eyes from her face. in a sober. He missed it. yet something had gone. Irrelevant trifles--a cool wind on his forehead. Calle Luz. But Julia Salas had left the window. She had not married--why? Faithfulness." he answered with a feeling of painful constraint. he reflected. Gently--was it experimentally?--he pressed her hand at parting. So that was all over. What had she lost? Or was the loss his? He felt an impersonal curiosity creeping into his gaze. Where else.How would life seem now if he had married Julia Salas? Had he meant anything to her? That unforgettable red-and-gold afternoon in early April haunted him with a sense of incompleteness as restless as other unlaid ghosts. looking thoughtfully into her fine dark eyes. "Good evening. The girl must have noticed. not so eagerly alive. somewhat meditative tone. She had not changed much--a little less slender. stilly midnight the cock's first call rose in tall. At last--he was shaking her hand." he said. and from the uninviting cot he could see one half of a starstudded sky. soaring jets of sound. and in the cool. calling to her mother as she did so. before bedtime on a moonlit night? The house was low and the light in the sala behind her threw her head into unmistakable relief. It was something unvolitional. A few inquiries led him to a certain little tree-ceilinged street where the young moon wove indistinct filigrees of fight and shadow. about this and that. he had known that he would find her house because she would surely be sitting at the window. "Good evening.
and where live on in unchanging freshness. . dead loves of vanished youth. long extinguished. An immense sadness as of loss invaded his spirit.Why had he obstinately clung to that dream? So all these years--since when?--he had been seeing the light of dead stars. the dear. a vast homesickness for some immutable refuge of the heart far away where faded gardens bloom again. yet seemingly still in their appointed places in the heavens. This is the 1925 short story that gave birth to modern Philippine writing in English.
" He felt relieved that at least she talked: "You know very well that I won't want any other woman either. "and join the dancing women?" He felt a pang inside him. leaning against the wall. One of the men will see you dance well. With bare fingers he stirred the covered smoldering embers." The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of falling waters. But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. . "You should join the dancers. then pushed the cover back in place. You know that. don't you?" he repeated. he will like your dancing. because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman did not stir." He looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room." he said. She was partly sullen. go out and dance. If you really don't hate me for this separation. he talked to the listening darkness.Wedding Dance By Amador Daguio Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the headhigh threshold. he will marry you. but her sullenness was not because of anger or hate. But neither of us can help it. After some moments during which he seemed to wait. He crawled on all fours to the middle of the room. "as if--as if nothing had happened. don't you?" She did not answer him. The room brightened. he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to the narrow door. "Go out--go out and dance. stepped inside. When the coals began to glow. he knew exactly where the stove was. and blew into the stove. then full round logs as his arms. He slid back the cover. The stove fire played with strange moving shadows and lights upon her face." she said sharply. Clinging to the log. but continued to sit unmoving in the darkness. with him." he said. "I'm sorry this had to be done. There was a sudden rush of fire in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao. you know it. "I don't want any other man. you will be luckier than you were with me. "Why don't you go out. Awiyao put pieces of pine on them. Who knows but that. don't you? Lumnay. "You know it Lumnay. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long." "I don't want any man. I am really sorry.
She tugged at the rattan flooring. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. "You cannot blame me. I wanted to have a child. "I came home. You have been a good wife." he said. Lumnay had filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening. I have sacrificed many chickens in my prayers." He set some of the burning wood in place. She seemed about to cry." "Yes." This time the woman stirred. paused before her. not as good keeping a house clean. "You know that I have done my best. We should have another chance before it is too late for both of us. we have waited too long." "You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease Kabunyan. Yes. looked at her bronzed and sturdy face." he said. you have been very good to me. I have been a good husband to you." she said weakly. feeling relieved. I am not forcing you to come. if you don't want to join my wedding ceremony. "No. Each time she did this the split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. I came to tell you that Madulimay." she said. can never become as good as you are. I have nothing to say against you. He stirred the fire. "It's only that a man must have a child. "It is not my fault. Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat. then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the other. I know. Of course. But what could I do?" "Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child. I know. The gong of the dancers clamorously called in her care through the walls. not as fast in cleaning water jars. like you. She is not as strong in planting beans."Yes. "I have prayed to Kabunyan much. She wound the blanket more snugly around herself." she said." . You are one of the best wives in the whole village. Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split bamboo flooring in place. because. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank." he said. stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. "Because I did not find you among the dancers. The spark rose through the crackles of the flames." "Neither can you blame me. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling. although I am marrying her.
live in it as long as you wish. and Madulimay will not feel good. the steep canyon which they had to cross. "I'll go to my own house." "I have no need for a house. then turned away. The gangsas are playing. "You know I did it for you. The next day she would not be his any more. has it?" She said. I will build another house for Madulimay. "Go back to the dance. and became silent. and sobbed." she said. the trip up the trail which they had to climb. "Lumnay." he said tenderly. They will wonder where you are. "I will pray that Kabunyan will bless you and Madulimay. then shook her head wildly. You know that life is not worth living without a child. You helped me to make it for the two of us. They will need help in the planting of the beans. Go back to the dance. on the other side of the mountain. He let go of her face. She almost seemed to smile. and she bent to the floor again and looked at her fingers as they tugged softly at the split bamboo floor. You know that." "I will give you the field that I dug out of the mountains during the first year of our marriage." he said. She would go back to her parents." "You know that I cannot." "Lumnay. "It is not right for you to be here. "This house is yours." "I would feel better if you could come. Make it your own." she said slowly. But her eyes looked away. "I built it for you. in the pounding of the rice." "I have no use for any field. My parents are old. She looked at him lovingly. He put the coconut cup aside on the floor and came closer to her. They were silent for a time. the high hopes they had in the beginning of their new life. The man have mocked me behind my back. He held her face between his hands and looked longingly at her beauty. He looked at her." he said." "I know it. if I did this it is because of my need for a child." She bit her lips now. She thought of the seven harvests that had passed. the day he took her away from her parents across the roaring river."That has not done me any good. and dance---for the last time. Never again would he hold her face." she said finally." he said. The waters boiled in her mind in .
The voice was a shudder. How proud she had been of his humor. Then it was full of promise. She flung herself upon his knees and clung to them. gathering her in his arms." "Then you hate me. Awiyao. I'll have no other man. "Look at my body. It could dance. my husband. He had a sense of lightness in his way of saying things which often made her and the village people laugh. But." "If you fail--if you fail this second time--" she said thoughtfully. bronze and compact in their hold upon his skull---how frank his bright eyes were. "I did everything to have a child." he said. I must die. the waters tolled and growled. "If you die it means you hate me. Even now it is firm. "Look at me. she clung now to his neck. "Awiyao. She looked at his face with the fire playing upon his features---hard and strong. full. The muscles where taut and firm. She looked at his body the carved out of the mountains five fields for her. I don't want you to fail. and her hand lay upon his right shoulder. "I don't care about the house.forms of white and jade and roaring silver. They both drank of the water then rested on the other bank before they made the final climb to the other side of the mountain." ." she cried." he explained. "No--no." "It will not be right to die. and kind." he said. her hair flowed down in cascades of gleaming darkness." she said passionately in a hoarse whisper." she cried. Awiyao." she said. they were far away now from somewhere on the tops of the other ranges. I'll die. Her whole warm naked naked breast quivered against his own. it could work fast in the fields. "If I do not try a second time. You do not want me to have a child." She was silent. his arms and legs flowed down in fluent muscles--he was strong and for that she had lost him. his wide and supple torso heaved as if a slab of shining lumber were heaving." "Then you'll always be fruitless. "it means I'll die." "I'll go back to my father. resounded in thunderous echoes through the walls of the stiff cliffs. You do not want my name to live on in our tribe. it could climb the mountains fast. and they had looked carefully at the buttresses of rocks they had to step on---a slip would have meant death. nobody will come after me. "I don't care about the fields. I don't care for anything but you. Nobody will get the fields I have carved out of the mountains. I am useless.
" she said. It pained him to leave. in the whole life of the tribe itself that made man wish for the laughter and speech of a child? Suppose he changed his mind? Why did the unwritten law demand. anyway. let me keep my beads. What was it that made a man wish for a child? What was it in life. My grandmother said they come from up North. Both of us will vanish from the life of our tribe. You keep them." she said." She took herself away from him. in the communing with husband and wife. "Awiyao! Awiyao! O Awiyao! They are looking for you at the dance!" "I am not in hurry. and her eyes seemed to smile in the light. in the work in the field. "I love you." He clasped her hands. that a man. sonorous and faraway. "I know. "You will keep the beads. "I do this for the sake of the tribe." she said. to be a man. They come from far-off times. "I'll come back to you. Then both of us will die together. "Awiyao. In pain he turned to her. "Awiyao!" He stopped as if suddenly hit by a spear." she half-whispered. Her face was in agony. "Awiyao. in the silence of the night. must have a child to come after him? And if he was fruitless--but he loved Lumnay." The gongs thundered through the walls of their house. He went to the door." "I'll keep them because they stand for the love you have for me." "Not until you tell me that it is all right with you. They are worth twenty fields."If I fail. in the planting and harvest." she said. from the slant-eyed people across the sea. I love you and have nothing to give. She had been wonderful to him." "It is all right with me." he said. for a voice was calling out to him from outside. You had better go. It was like taking away of his life to leave her like this." he said. "I'll keep my beads. "The beads!" He turned . Lumnay." "The elders will scold you.
Lumnay sat for some time in the darkness. Only she was absent. alone among all women. "How does she know? How can anybody know? It is not right. the moonlight spilled itself on the whole village. The moonlight struck her face. and she closed her eyes and huried her face in his neck. and the women envy the way she stretched her hands like the wings of the mountain eagle now and then as she danced? How long ago did she dance at her own wedding? Tonight. clung to his neck as if she would never let him go. And yet was she not the best dancer of the village? Did she not have the most lightness and grace? Could she not. and he buried out into the night. The call for him from the outside repeated. her grip loosened. and it seemed they were calling to her. to denounce the unwritten rule that a man may take another woman. Then she went to the door and opened it. She would tell Awiyao to come back to her. to tell them it was not right. He surely would relent. "Awiyao! Awiyao. Awiyao was hers. The gangsas clamored more loudly now. nobody could take him away from her. She would go to the chief of the village. She could see the dancers clearly now. to the elders. . He dug out from the darkness the beads which had been given to him by his grandmother to give to Lumnay on the beads on. all the women who counted. her betel nut box and her beads. Was not their love as strong as the river? She made for the other side of the village where the dancing was. The white and jade and deep orange obsidians shone in the firelight. She suddenly clung to him. Let her be the first woman to complain. and tied them in place. There was a flaming glow over the whole place. tripping on the ground like graceful birds. Her heart warmed to the flaming call of the dance. a great bonfire was burning. The man leaped lightly with their gangsas as they circled the dancing women decked in feast garments and beads. were dancing now in honor of another whose only claim was that perhaps she could give her husband a child." she said. dance like a bird tripping for grains on the ground. She could hear the throbbing of the gangsas coming to her through the caverns of the other houses. it is hard!" She gasped. She was near at last. beautifully timed to the beat of the gangsas? Did not the men praise her supple body. Suddenly she found courage. She knew that all the houses were empty that the whole tribe was at the dance. She would go to the dance. following their men.back and walked to the farthest corner of their room. who once danced in her honor. "It is not right. It is not right!" she cried. to the trunk where they kept their worldly possession---his battle-ax and his spear points.
she cold see from where she stood the blazing bonfire at the edge of the village.a strong. Did anybody see her approach? She stopped. A few more weeks. She had met him one day as she was on her way to fill her clay jars with water. What if somebody had seen her coming? The flames of the bonfire leaped in countless sparks which spread and rose like yellow points and died out in the night. when the morning comes. . blooming whiteness.strange heat in her blood welled up. silken almost. Her heartbeat began to sound to her like many gangsas. He had stopped at the spring to drink and rest. Lumnay's fingers moved a long. The sound did not mock her. Slowly she climbed the mountain. echoing from mountain to mountain. where the wedding was. to speak to her in the language of unspeaking love. muscular boy carrying his heavy loads of fuel logs down the mountains to his home. The mountain clearing was cold in the freezing moonlight. The bean plants now surrounded her. The wind began to stir the leaves of the bean plants. away from the village. After that it did not take him long to decide to throw his spear on the stairs of her father's house in token on his desire to marry her. a few more months. The stretching of the bean pods full length from the hearts of the wilting petals would go on. The trail went up again. soft in the texture. and she was lost among them. still rich in their sonorousness. When she came to the mountain stream she crossed it carefully. Nobody held her hand. Lumnay though of Awiyao as the Awiyao she had known long ago-. Lumnay looked for a big rock on which to sit down. When Lumnay reached the clearing. a few more harvests---what did it matter? She would be holding the bean flowers. She followed the trail above the village. and she had made him drink the cool mountain water from her coconut shell. and she started to run. and the stream water was very cold. She thought of the new clearing of beans which Awiyao and she had started to make only four moons before. silver on the light blue. The blaze reached out to her like a spreading radiance. She felt the pull of their gratitude for her sacrifice. they seemed to call far to her. but moist where the dew got into them. But the gleaming brightness of the bonfire commanded her to stop. and she was in the moonlight shadows among the trees and shrubs. She could hear the far-off clamor of the gongs. silver to look at. Lumnay walked away from the dancing ground. long time among the growing bean pods. She did not have the courage to break into the wedding feast.
A short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodong‘s foot and crawled clammilu over it. I will tell it to him. a gray under shirt and red kundiman shorts. flinging the worm into the air. his girl. Then he went into the water. he had pimples on his face. his father himself had married early. She had a small brown face and small black eyes and straight glossy hair. She made him dream even during the day. Dodong finally decided to tell it. The beast turned its head to look at him with dumb faithful eyes. and he said to himself he was not young anymore. Dodong got tickled and jerked his foot. He wished as he looked at her that he had a sister who could help his mother in the housework. Dodong felt insolent and big at the thought of it. but thought of his age. but he dismissed it cursorily. Thinking himself man – grown. Many slender soft worm emerged from the further rows and then burrowed again deeper into the soil. Dodong‘s grandmother. Dodong gave it a slight push and the animal walked alongside him to its shed. He lifted his leg and looked at the hurt toe and then went on walking. Dodong?‖ Dodong resented his father‘s question. smudged you terribly. seventeen. on the grass. then down on his upper lip was dark-these meant he was no longer a boy. to hold her. although he was by nature low in stature. He was seventeen. Dodong stripped himself and laid his clothes. who chewed areca nut. prodded by the thought of his virility. Dodong felt he could do anything. How desirable she was to him. He turned back the way he had come. wet his body over and rubbed at it . He placed bundles of grass before it and the carabao began to eat. and led it to its shed and fed it. Dodong looked at it without interest. I will tell him. A small angled stone bled his foot. He was hesitant about saying it. The ground was broken up into many fresh wounds and fragrant with a sweetish earthy smell. He wanted to marry. Dirty. His father was a silent hardworking farmer. but a thought came to him that his father might refuse to consider it. Dodong unhitched the carabao leisurely and fave it a healthy tap on the hip. He walked faster. This fieldwork was healthy invigorating. Dodong did. She made him want to touch her.Footnote to Youth By Jose Garcia Villa The sun was salmon and hazy in the west. after he had unhitched the carabao from the plow. Dodong tensed with desire and looked at the muscle of his arms. Dodong thought to himself he would tell his father about Teang when he got home. Dodong started homeward thinking how he would break his news to his father. He was growing into a man – he was a man. Must you marry. then marched obliquely to a creek. he thought wild young dreams of himself and Teang. but it begrimed you. he wanted his father to know what he had to say was of serious importance as it would mark a climacteric in his life. In the cool sundown. which he had learned to do from his mother. Dodong did not bother to look where into the air.
. It was paining him. his father was. his father himself had married early. ―I will marry Teang. ―I am going to marry Teang. then he marched homeward again. Dodong himself thought that if he had a decayed tooth. Dodong had told him often and again to let the town dentist pull it out. Dodong?‖ Dodong resented his father‘s question. The bath made him feel cool. graying the still black temples of his father. I asked her last night to marry me and she said… ―Yes. Dodong said while his mother was out that he was going to marry Teang.‖ ―That‘s very young to get married at. ―You are very young. But he was tired and now. He and his parents sat down on the floor around the table to eat. His father remained in the room. this indifference.‖ ―I… I want to marry… Teang‘s a good girl… ―Tell your mother. he would be afraid to go to the dentist. dipped it in his glass of water and ate it. Dodong looked at his father sourly. and over which he head said it without any effort at all and without self-consciousness. He wished as he looked at her that he had a sister who could help his mother in the housework. His father look old now. The petroleum lamp on the ceiling was already lighted and the low unvarnished square table was set for supper. ―I will marry Teang. Dodong. There it was out. It was dusk when he reached home. I want your permission… I… want… it…‖ There was an impatient clamor in his voice. His father looked at him silently and stopped sucking the broken tooth. Afterward. Dodong felt relived and looked at his father expectantly. feld lazy. and went with slow careful steps and Dodong wanted to help her carry the dishes out.‖ Dodong repeated. they felt more fluid than solid. The bananas were overripe and when one held the. and Dodong was uncomfortable and then became very angry because his father kept looking at him without uttering anything.‖ ―I‘m seventeen. but later.‖ his father said. but he was afraid. He cracked his knuckles one by one. Dodong made a quick impassioned essay in his mind about selfishness. but he thought of leaving the remainder for his parent.. He was not long in bathing. he got confused. Dodong knew. and rice.‖ Dodong said. The silenece became intense and cruel. but did not partake of the fruit. They had fried freshwater fish. but Dodong guessed it. ―Must you marry. He got another piece and wanted some more. an exacting protest at his coldness. sucking a diseased tooth. doing all the housework alone. Dodong broke off a piece of caked sugar. A decresent moon outside shed its feebled light into the window.vigorously. what we had to say. again. Dodong‘s mother removed the dishes when they were through. and the little sound it made broke dully the night stillness.‖ His father kept gazing at him in flexible silence and Dodong fidgeted on his seat. He did not tell that to Dodong. He pitied her. he would not be any bolder than his father.
father. he even felt sorry for him about the pain I his tooth. as if he has taken something not properly his.‖ Suddenly. Some women. You come up. He lost his resentment for his father. uncomfortable.‖ ―Dodong. ―It is a boy. . with strangeness. you come up.‖ His father said. he was ashamed to his mother of his youthful paternity. He beckoned Dodong to come up. Dodong felt tired of standing. Dodong did not want to come up. He dropped his eyes and pretended to dust off his kundiman shorts. It is over. if that is your wish… of course…‖ There was a strange helpless light in his father‘s eyes. He wanted to get out of it without clear reason at all. he was ashamed to his mother of his youthful paternity. He began to wonder madly if the process of childbirth was really painful. sweating profusely so that his camiseta was damp. ―Dodong. Too absorbed was he in himself. He did not want her to scream like that. Sweet young dreams… *** Dodong stood in the sweltering noon heat. His mother had told him not to leave the house. ―Father. did not cry. He‘d rather stayed in the sun. ―Dodong. Dodong was immensely glad he has asserted himself. Then he confined his mind dreaming of Teang and himself. for a while.‖ ―You will let me marry Teang?‖ ―Son. when they gave birth. ―Dodong… Dodong. His parent‘s eyes seemed to pierce through him so he felt limp. In a few moments he would be a father. Dodong did not read it. you tell your Inay. It made him feel guilty.‖ his mother said. troubled.‖ he whispered the word with awe.‖ ―All right. as if he had taken something not properly his. Dodong. ―Come up. He wanted to hide or even run away from them.‖ his mother called again. ―Dodong. He was young.‖ I‘ll… come up. Dodong felt more embarrassed and did not move. supposed he had ten children… The journey of thought came to a halt when he heard his mother‘s voice from the house.―You tell her. He was still like a tree and his thoughts were confused. It made him feel guilty. he felt terribly embarrassed as he looked at her. He was also afraid of Teang who was giving birth in the house. to compress his thoughts with severe tyranny.‖ He turned to look again and this time.‖ ―You tell her. Tatay. he realized now contradicting himself of nine months ago. He was very young… He felt queer. he felt afraid of the house. but he had left. He looked at his calloused toes.‖ ―All right. he saw his father beside his mother. Dodong. she face screams that chilled his blood. Some how. It had seemingly caged him. He sat down on a saw-horse with his feet close together. Then he thought. Dodong. Somehow. He was afraid.
Yet. ―She‘s sleeping. Dodong did not want any more children. wishing she had no married. Within. He walked ahead of them so that they should not see his face.Dodong traced the tremulous steps on the dry parched yard. he did not want to be demonstrative. Many more children came. very flustered and happy. When Blas was eighteen. Why one was forsaken… after love. The thin voice touched his heart. He did not want her to look that pale. he avoided his parent‘s eyes. Dodong wanted to touch her. she wondered. Dreamfully sweet. Lucio had married another. humiliated by himself. There had neen another suitor. Teang did not complain. Not even Dodong whom she loved. She was shapeless and thin even if she was young. He felt guilty and untru.‖ Dodong said. It must be so to make youth. He wanted to ask questions and somebody to answer him. making him strong.‖ his father said. Dodong saw Teang. Young Dodong who was only seventeen. Cooking. Dodong could not find the answer. he came home one night. He wanted to turn back. to push away that stray wisp of hair that touched her lips.‖ How kind their voices were. He had wanted to know little wisdom but was denied it. ―You give him to me. The house. It seemed that the coming of children could not helped. his wife. asleep on the paper with her soft black hair around her face. The children. But she loved Dodong… in the moonlight. Why it must be so. But they came. She cried sometimes. Lucio. a new child came along. He felt like crying. He ascended the bamboo steps slowly. either. laundering. He could not control the swelling of happiness in him. *** Blas was not Dodong‘s only child. She did not tell Dodong this. tired and querulous. Dodong returned to the house. They flowed into him. Youth must be dreamfully sweet. For six successive years. But you go in…‖ His father led him into the small sawali room. Why must be so? Why one was forsaken… after love? One of them was why life did not fulfill all of the youth‘ dreams. But again that feeling of embarrassment came over him. And his mother: ―Dodong. You give him to me. Lucio older than Dodong by nine years and that wasw why she had chosen Dodong. Dodong got angry with himself sometimes. He wanted somebody to punish him. That was a better lot. There was interminable work that kept her tied up. Dodong heard Blas‘ steps for he could not sleep well at night. would she have born him children? Maybe not. Maybe the question was not to be answered. The hilot was wrapping the child Dodong heard him cry. His heart pounded mercilessly in him. ―Son. Life did not fulfill all of Youth‘s dreams. to go back to the yard.. not wishing him to dislike her. but the bearing of children tolled on her. His eyes smarted and his chest wanted to burst. He watched Blass . she wished she had not married. He wanted to be wise about many thins. ―Teanf?‖ Dodong said. and before his parent.
Youth must triumph… now. He felt extremely sad and sorry for him. ―I‘m going to marry Tona.‖ Dodong said. Life did not fulfill all of youth‘s dreams.‖ ―You have objection. I loved Tona and… I want her.undress in the dark and lie down softly. ―You want to marry Tona. She accepted me tonight.. Dodong said.‖ Dodong lay silent.‖ Blas called softly. . As long ago. You better go to sleep. you think its over. Afterward… It will be life. The life that would follow marriage would be hard… ―Yes. Blas was restless on his mat and could not sleep. It is late. ―Itay. Youth and Love did triumph for Dodong… and then life. Why it must be so? Why one was forsaken after love? ―Itay. although he did not want Blas to marry yet. Dodong stirred and asked him what it was. ―Son… non…‖ But for Dodong. Blas was very young. Itay?‖ Blas asked acridly. They descended to the yard where everything was still and quiet. he do anything. ―I will mary Tona. Dodong called his name and asked why he did not sleep. The moonlight was cold and white.‖ Dodong rose from his mat and told Blas to follow him.‖ ―Must you marry?‖ Blas‘ voice was steeled with resentment. Dodong looked wistfully at his young son in the moonlight.
Her mistress‘ voice came to her. startled her into busily rubbing while she tried not to listen to the scolding words. The movement was greeted by a shout of laughter from the women washing and Rosa looked at them in surprise.‖ in coaxing tones. The hands pressing down on hers made her wince and she withdrew her hands hastily. she is ashamed. she took the can from the kitchen table and went out quickly. A little later her mistress‘ shrill voice told her to go to the bathhouse for drinking water. shouting at her. When she arrived. and sometimes she paused to listen to the talk in the bathhouse behind her. and Sancho followed her. But she went her slow way with the can. Rosa frowned and picked up her can. The women said to each other ―Rosa does not like to be touched by Sancho‖ and then slapped their thighs in laughter. Sancho made a move to help her but she thrust him away. she fell to doing her work slowly again. Eagerly wiping her hands on her wet wrap. She was sweating at the defective town pump when strong hands closed over hers and started to help her. She would have liked to be there with the other women to take part in their jokes and their laughter and their merry gossiping. When her mistress left her. She watched the bright red drop fall into the suds of soap and looked in delight at its gradual mingling into the whiteness. saying ―Because we are here. and without waiting for an . calling impatiently. saying ―Do not be angry. and she tried to hurry. but they paid a centavo for every piece of soiled linen they brought there to wash and her mistress wanted to save this money. A pin she had failed to remove from a dress sank its point deep into her finger.Servant Girl By Estrella D. Sancho. Her mistress came upon her thus and. Alfon ROSA was scrubbing the clothes she was washing slowly. She cried to herself in surprise and squeezed the finger until the blood came out. Alone in the washroom of her mistress‘ house she could hear the laughter of women washing clothes in the public bathhouse from which she was separated by only a thin wall. her head angrily down.‖ Rosa carried the can away. and the women roared again. the woman asked her what had kept her so long.
and piled them into a basin she balanced on her head.‖ Soon however. and she knew what had kept the girl so long. Rosa cried. Getting back to her washing. Already the women were setting up a great to do about what had happened. and she stepped gingerly this way and that. and she smiled slowly. she thought of Sancho. hurrying lest her mistress come out and see her thus and slap her again. They called to her and she smiled at them. loudly abusing the dogs. She tried to get up. She thought of their laughter and Sancho following her with his coaxing tones. The girl poured the water from the can into the earthen jar. Her patadiong was tight in their wetness about her legs.answer she ranted on. she said something about going to bleach the clothes and under her breath added an epithet. She was sorry as soon as she realized what she had done. saying she had heard the women joking in the bathhouse. she saw in wide alarm another dog close on the heels of the first. would be ―rich. solicitousness on their faces. while Rosa‘s eyes filled with sudden tears. ―Nothing‘s the matter with me. Looking down. She heard the other women‘s exclamations of alarm and her first thought was for the clothes. a bitter lump in her throat. An instinctive fear of animals made her want to dodge the heedlessly running dog. Her anger mounting with every angry word she said. she slapped Rosa‘s face. she looked at the basin and gave obscene thanks when she saw the clothes still piled secure and undirtied. She turned away. muttering still. she gathered the clothes she had to bleach. Some dogs chasing each other on the street. and before she quite knew what she was doing. She passed some women hanging clothes on a barbed-wire fence to dry. she finally swung out an arm. gave her no heed and ran right between her legs as Rosa held on to the basin in frantic fear lest it fall and the clothes get soiled. she did not notice because the women were praising her for the whiteness of the linen in the basin on her head. when one of the dogs passed swiftly very close to her. The dog. and she fell down. in the middle of the street. Without getting up. intent on the other it was pursuing. Passing her mistress in the kitchen. God willing. and thought of what she would do to people like her mistress when she herself. and the jokes the women had shouted at her.‖ Still . She was answering them that she hadn‘t even bleached them yet. Some were coming to her. She had to cross the street to get to the stones gathered about in a whitened circle in a neighbor‘s yard where she was wont to lay out the clothes.
and that she couldn‘t move anyway. pulling at it and massaging it. Rosa looked down at her right foot which twinged with pain. There was no one but a small boy licking a candy stick. The cochero asked her where she lived and she told him. letting it rest there. She looked around wildly. that was settled. He asked what had happened. and he wasn‘t paying any attention to them. Then there came down the street a tartanilla without any occupant except the cochero who rang his bell. The women had gone back to their drying. she noticed that her wrap had been loosened and had bared her breasts. Rosa looked around to see if the women were still there to look at them but they had gone away. He was seated on the seat opposite Rosa‘s and had raised the injured foot to his thigh. Already her foot above the ankle was swelling. seeing she was up and apparently nothing the worse for the accident. so swiftly she found no time to protest. The basin was still on Rosa‘s head and he took it from her. She thought of the slap her mistress had given her for staying in the bathhouse too long and the slap she was most certain to get now for delaying like this. and put it in his vehicle. even if there weren‘t. stopping with embarrassment when she remembered the loosening of her patadiongand the . She tried the heel but that also made her bite her lip. Then he left her. The basin of wet clothes was beside Rosa on the seat and she fingered the clothing with fluttering hands. He carried her to his tartanilla. plumped her down on one of the seats. The cochero looked up at her. She tried stepping on the toes of her right foot but it made her wince. The man jumped down from his seat and bent down and looked at her foot. He rubbed the oil on her foot. She could stand but she found she could not walk. pointing out the house. and raised the wrap and tied it securely around herself again. the sweat on his face. But she couldn‘t walk. he closed his arms about her knees and lifted her like a child. and she recited the whole thing to him. and massaged it. They were still in the middle of the street. on his blue faded trousers.struggling to get up. coming back after a short while with some coconut oil in the hollow of his palm. She stooped to pick up the basin and put it on her head again. sudden shame coloring her cheeks. despite Rosa‘s protest. he began to touch with gentle fingers the swelling ankle. saw her looking around with pain and embarrassment mingled on her face. Then. She looked up at the driver and started angrily to tell him that there was plenty of room at the sides of the street. but she couldn‘t move away from the middle of the street. Then he squatted down and bidding Rosa put a hand on his shoulders to steady herself.
She snatched the basin from the cochero‘s hand and despite the pain caused her. every day. and making them. She never saw him pass. like measuring his tartanilla seat cushions for him. and stringing them on his vehicle. How glad she was he had not seen her thus. The cochero had finished with her foot. that‘s why I never see him. Rosa was suddenly shy of having to let anyone know about her cochero. He passes here every day wishing to see me. She knew that meant he must do his own washing. in the days that followed. so she said she had asked for a little oil at the store and put it on her foot herself. He passes just when I am in the house. She said to herself. Her mistress was unusually tolerant. . knowing like a woman. and he thinks of me. She told her mistress about the accident. or she would loiter on an errand for tomatoes or vinegar. He went then. He dreams of me too. and Rosa forgot about the slapping and said to herself this was a day full of luck! It was with very sharp regret that she thought of her having forgotten to ask the cochero his name. but she said to herself. ever afterwards. the way he had wound an arm around her knees and carried her like a little girl. and she slid from the seat. which part to turn to the sun. She found time to come out on the street for a while. Then she looked at the swollen foot and asked who had put oil on it.nakedness of her bosom. But he took it from her. She dreamed about the gentleness of his fingers. She smiled remembering the way he had laid out the clothes on stones to bleach. Sometimes she would sweep the yard or trim the scraggly hedge of viola bushes. In her thoughts she spoke to him and he always answered. And she ached in tenderness over him and his need for a woman like her to do such things for him — things like mending the straight tear she had noticed at the knee of his trousers when her foot had rested on them. just as Rosa heard with frightened ears the call of her mistress. She thought of the names for men she knew and called him by it in thinking of him. asking her to tell him where the bleaching stones were. and himself laid out the white linen on the stones. Now. her basin on a hip. limped away. He came back after a while. she thought of him. The woman did not do anything save to scold her lightly for being careless.
She was too full of this secret joy to mind their teasing.Some tartanilla would pass. Sometimes she would sing very loudly. the other hand flung out to balance herself against the weight. Where before she had been openly angry and secretly pleased. if she felt her mistress was in a good humor and not likely to object. Sancho looked after her with the heavy can of water held by one hand. she looked out of a window. she thought. who insisted on pumping her can full every time she went for drinking water. He waited for her to turn and smile at him as she sometimes did. she was amused at her servant‘s attempts at singing. When they teased her about Sancho. She looked at Sancho and thought him very rude beside… beside Angel.‖ she glared at him and thought him unbearably ill mannered. . She thought he was merely trying to show off. she smiled at the women and at the man. they would tease you more if they knew I really feel like they say I do. Always the girl had an excuse and her mistress soon made no further questions. now she was indifferent. She told herself that if he could not see her. he‘d strike you a big blow. and seeing Sancho‘s disturbed face. She longed no more to be part of the group about the water tank in the bathhouse. ―Do not mind their teasing. in pity. And unless she was in bad temper. but she simply went her way. letting him see the grimace of distaste she made when she did so. hoping it would be Angel‘s. she made remarks and asked curious questions. If Angel knew. as soon as she heard the sound of the wheels. He always put his hands over hers when she made a move to pump water. She spat out of the corner of her mouth. But she was silent and proud and unsmiling. he would at least wish to hear her voice. and if she could. because they did not have what she had. He flung his head up and then laughed snortingly. Rosa‘s mistress made her usual bad-humored sallies against her fancied slowness. full of her hidden knowledge about someone picking her up and being gentle with her. She thought of the women there and their jokes and she smiled. some one by the name of Angel. Noticing Rosa‘s sudden excursions into the street. And when one day Sancho said. He always spoke to her about not being angry with the women‘s teasing. who knew how to massage injured feet back to being good for walking and who knew how to lay out clothes for bleaching.
One night she sent the maid to a store for wine. Rosa came back with a broken bottle empty of all its contents. Sudden anger at the waste and the loss made her strike out with closed fists, not caring where her blows landed until the girl was in tears. It often touched her when she saw Rosa crying and cowering, but now the woman was too angry to pity. It never occurred to Rosa that she could herself strike out and return every blow. Her mistress was thirtyish, with peaked face and thin frame, and Rosa‘s strong arms, used to pounding clothes and carrying water, could easily have done her hurt. But Rosa merely cried and cried, saying now and then Aruy! Aruy!, until the woman, exhausted by her own anger left off striking the girl to sit down in a chair, curse loudly about the loss of such good wine, and ask where she was going to get the money to buy another bottle. Rosa folded her clothes into a neat bundle, wrapped them in her blanket, and getting out her slippers, thrust her feet into them. She crept out of a door without her mistress seeing her and told herself she‘d never come back to that house again. It would have been useless to tell her mistress how the bottle had been broken, and the wine spilled. She had been walking alone in the street hurrying to the wine store, and Sancho had met her. They had talked; he begging her to let him walk with her and she saying her mistress would be angry if she saw. Sancho had insisted and they had gone to the store and bought the wine, and then going home, her foot had struck a sharp stone. She had bent to hold a foot up, looking at the sole to see if the stone had made it bleed. Her dress had a wide, deep neck, and it must have hung away from her body when she bent. Anyway, she had looked up to find Sancho looking into the neck of her dress. His eyes were turned hastily away as soon as she straightened up, and she thought she could do nothing but hold her peace. But after a short distance in their resumed walk home, he had stopped to pick up a long twig lying on the ground. With deft strokes he had drawn twin sharp peaks on the ground. They looked merely like the zigzags one does draw playfully with any stick, but Rosa, having seen him looking into her dress while she bent over, now became so angry that she swung out and with all her force struck him on the check with her open palm. He reeled from the unexpected blow, and quickly steadied himself while Rosa shot name after name at him. Anger rose in his face. It was nearly dark, and there was no one else on the street. He laughed,
short angry laughter, and called her back name for name. Rosa approached him and made to slap him again, but Sancho was too quick for her. He had slipped out of her way and himself slapped her instead. The surprise of it angered her into sudden tears. She swung up the bottle of wine she had held tightly in one hand, and ran after the man to strike him with it. Sancho slapped her arm so hard that she dropped the bottle. The man had run away laughing, calling back a final undeserved name at her, leaving her to look with tears at the wine seeping into the ground. Some people had come toward her then, asking what had happened. She had stooped, picked up the biggest piece of glass, and hurried back to her mistress, wondering whether she would be believed and forgiven. Rosa walked down street after street. She had long ago wiped the tears from her face, and her thoughts were of a place to sleep, for it was late at night. She told herself she would kill Sancho if she ever saw him again. She picked up a stone from the road, saying, I wish a cold wind would strike him dead, and so on; and the stone she grasped tightly, saying, If I meet him now, I would throw this at him, and aim so well that I would surely hit him. She rubbed her arm in memory of the numbing blow the man had dealt it, and touched her face with furious shame for the slap he had dared to give her. Her fists closed more tightly about the stone and she looked about her as if she expected Sancho to appear. She thought of her mistress. She had been almost a year in the woman‘s employ. Usually she stayed in a place, at the most, for four months. Sometimes it was the master‘s smirking ways and evil eyes, sometimes it was the children‘s bullying demands. She had stayed with this last mistress because in spite of her spells of bad humor, there were periods afterward when she would be generous with money for a dress, or for a cine with other maids. And they had been alone, the two of them. Sometimes the mistress would get so drunk that she would slobber into her drink and mumble of persons that must have died. When she was helpless she might perhaps have starved if Rosa had not forcibly fed her. Now, however, thought of the fierce beating the woman had given her made Rosa cry a little and repeat her vow that she would never step into the house again. Then she thought of Angel, the cochero who had been gentle, and she lost her tears in thinking how he would never have done what Sancho did. If he knew what had
happened to her, he would come running now and take her to his own home, and she would not have to worry about a place to sleep this night. She wandered about, not stopping at those places where she knew she would be accepted if she tried, her mind full of the injustices she had received and of comparisons between Sancho and Angel. She paused every time a tartanilla came her way, peering intently into the face of the
cochero, hoping it would be he, ready to break her face into smiles if it were indeed.
She carried her bundle on her arm all this while, now clenching a fist about the stone she still had not dropped and gnashing her teeth. She had been walking about for quite a while, feeling not very tired, having no urgent need to hurry about finding herself a place, so sharp her hopes were of somehow seeing her cochero on the streets. That was all she cared about, that she must walk into whatever street she came to, because only in that way would he see her and learn what they had done to her. Then, turning into a street full of stores set side by side, she felt the swish of a horse almost brushing against her. She looked up angrily at the cochero‘s laughing remark about his whip missing her beautiful bust. An offense like that, so soon after all her grief at what Sancho had done, inflamed her into passionate anger, and mouthing a quick curse, she flung the stone in her hand at the cochero on his seat. It was rather dark and she did not quite see his face. But apparently she hit something, for he suddenly yelled a stop at the horse, clambered down, and ran back to her, demanding the reason for her throwing the stone. She exclaimed hotly at his offense with the whip, and then looking up into his face, she gasped. She gasped and said, ―Angel!‖ For it was he. He was wearing a striped shirt, like so many other people were wearing, and he had on the very same trousers of dark blue he had worn when he massaged her foot. But he gazed at her in nothing but anger, asking whether her body was so precious that she would kill his horse. Also, why did she keep saying Angel; that was not his name! Rosa kept looking up at him not hearing a word of his threats about taking her to the
municipio, saying only Angel, Angel, in spite of his protests that that was not his name.
At last she understood that the cochero did not even remember her and she realized how empty her thoughts of him now were. Even his name was not Angel. She turned suddenly to walk away from him, saying, ―You do not even remember me.‖
running beside the moving vehicle. . ―With the grace of God. remembering nothing. he drove her to her mistress‘ house. all right. Rosa went into the house without hesitation. forgot the sudden sinking of her heart when she had realized that even he would flick his whip at a girl alone on the road. without stopping his horse. thank you. and lifted her smiling face at him. a new wine bottle before her.The cochero peered at her face and exclaimed after a while. she half dragged her into her bed. and then. With an arm about the thin woman‘s waist. Rosa didn‘t tell him what had happened. with many a loud exclamation to his horse. without knowing just why she answered so. She turned on the lights and found her mistress sleeping at a table with her head cradled in her arms. looking up into his face. saying ―Don‘t mention it‖ to her many thanks. ―Oh yes! the girl with the swollen foot!‖ Rosa forgot all the emptiness. He bade her ride in his vehicle. and then drove off. stopping suddenly to tell him her foot had healed very quickly. ―I am going home!‖ He asked no questions about where she had been. The cochero asked her after a while where she was going. she would say nothing. ―What is your name?‖ The cochero shouted. Nor anything about her dreams. She ran after the tartanilla when it had gone off a little way. Rosa laughed breathlessly and denied it. She merely answered the questions the cochero asked her about how she had been. Ω This 1937 classic always makes it to everyone‘s list of outstanding 20th century Philippine stories. grandly saying he would not make her pay. and asked. Rosa turned on the light in the kitchen and hummed her preparations for a meal. When the woman would wake. but they soon did.‖ Once he made her a sly joke about his knowing there were simply lots of men courting her. why she was so late. empty now of all its contents. ―Pedro‖ and continued to drive away. She wished they would never arrive. The cochero waited for her to get out. forgetting all her vows about never stepping into it again and wondering why it was so still. and she said breathlessly.
And what ails your wife. hurried across the yard.‖ ―Then why is she screaming? Is she ill?‖ . talking all at once. and came crowding around her. a sound of screaming in her ears. apparently deaf to the screams. She found the children‘s nurse working in the kitchen. hush I implore you! Now look: your father has a headache. but better to be dirty than to be boiled alive. and so have I. was hitching the pair of piebald ponies to the coach.Summer Solstice By Nick Joaquin THE MORETAS WERE spending St. whose feast day it was. and the screaming in her ears became wild screaming in the stables across the yard. eh? Have you been beating her again?‖ ―Oh no.‖ Though it was only seven by the clock the house was already a furnace. ―Oh my God!‖ she groaned and. were at breakfast. ―Not the closed coach. In the stables Entoy. intense fever of noon. grasping her skirts. the windows dilating with the harsh light and the air already burning with the immense. Entoy! The open carriage!‖ shouted Doña Lupeng as she came up. Mama!‖ ―We thought you were never getting up!‖ ―Do we leave at once. John‘s Day with the children‘s grandfather. So be quiet this instant—or no one goes to Grandfather. Doña Lupeng awoke feeling faint with the heat. ―And why is it you who are preparing breakfast? Where is Amada?‖ But without waiting for an answer she went to the backdoor and opened it. ―But the dust. the driver. huh? Are we going now?‖ ―Hush. In the dining room the three boys already attired in their holiday suits. señora—― ―I know. ―How long you have slept. señora: I have not touched her.
She is up there. John: the spirit is in her. man—― ―It is true. the rivers would give no fish. ―What is this Amada? Why are you still in bed at this hour? And in such a posture! Come. the grain would not grow.‖ . Then her face relax her mouth sagged open humorously and. the trees would bear no fruit. The room reeked hotly of intimate odors. She averted her eyes from the laughing woman on the bed. get up at once. the big half-naked woman sprawled across the bamboo bed stopped screaming. Her sweat-beaded brows contracted. and seeing that Entoy had followed and was leaning in the doorway.‖ ―But I forbade her to go! And I forbade you to let her go!‖ ―I could do nothing.‖ ―Naku. You should be ashamed!‖ But the woman on the bed merely stared. señora. I did no know your wife was so powerful. The spirit is in her. Saliva dribbled from the corners of her mouth.‖ When Doña Lupeng entered the room.‖ ―But. Doña Lupeng was shocked. looking around helplessly. in whose nakedness she seemed so to participate that she was ashamed to look directly at the man in the doorway. you beat her at the least pretext!‖ ―But now I dare not touch her. Entoy: has she had been to the Tadtarin?‖ ―Yes. señora. and why not?‖ ―It is the day of St. the moist pile of her flesh quivering like brown jelly. Entoy. señora.‖ ―Why. Last night. She must do as she pleases. she began noiselessly quaking with laughter—the mute mirth jerking in her throat. watching stolidly. she blushed again. But how do I know? You can go and see for yourself. She is the Tadtarin. Otherwise. and the animals would die.―I do not think so.‖ ―Oh. as if in an effort to understand. ―Tell me. rolling over on her back and spreading out her big soft arms and legs. Doña Lupeng blushed.
by which he intimated that the subject was not a proper one for the children. she is the wife of the moon.‖ continued his wife. People in wet clothes dripping with well-water.―At such times she is not my wife: she is the wife of the river. Don Paeng. and shouting San Juan! San Juan! as they ran to meet the procession. ditch-water and river-water came running across the hot woods and fields and meadows. do you know—actually afraid of her!‖ ―Oh. John!‖ cried voices up and down the countryside. merely shrugged. and gaily bedrenched by the crowds gathered along the wayside. blonde. Up the road. drowsily stroking his moustaches. and upon the joyous throng of young men against whose uproar a couple of seminarians in muddy cassocks vainly intoned the hymn of the noon god: That we. But this morning he stood as meek as a lamb while she screamed and screamed. Their teeth flashed white in their laughing faces and their hot bodies glowed crimson as they pranced past. very arrogant: the Lord of Summer indeed. propping one hand on her husband‘s shoulder wile the other she held up her silk parasol. singing and shouting and waving their arms: the St. who were sitting opposite. shrouded in fiery dust. his eyes closed against the hot light. the Lord of Light and Heat—erect and godly virile above the prone and female earth—while the worshippers danced and the dust thickened and the animals reared and roared and the merciless fires came raining down form the skies—the relentlessly upon field and river and town and winding road. ―You know how the brute treats her: she cannot say a word but he thrashes her. facing their parents.‖ “BUT HOW CAN they still believe such things?‖ demanded Doña Lupeng of her husband as they drove in the open carriage through the pastoral countryside that was the arrabal of Paco in the 1850‘s. a concourse of young men clad only in soggy trousers were carrying aloft an image of the Precursor. look. Don Paeng darted a sidelong glance at his wife. brandishing cans of water. boys—here comes the St. And ―Here come the men with their St. in chorus . she is the wife of the crocodile. thy servants. stirring a cloud of dust. John riding swiftly above the sea of dark heads and glittering in the noon sun—a fine. and she sprang up in the swaying carriage. wetting each other uproariously. He seemed actually in awe of her. heroic St. John!‖ cried Doña Lupeng. ―And you should have seen that Entoy. John: very male.
and the carriage started. as if to defy those rude creatures flaunting their manhood in the sun. ―And did you see our young cousin Guido?‖ he asked. was he in that crowd?‖ ―A European education does not seem to have spoiled his taste for country pleasures. ―Oh. Ah. When he bade her sit down because all eyes were turned on her. her annoyance deepened. And as she glanced at her husband and saw with what a smug smile he was watching the revelers. they have all passed now.‖ ―I did not see him.May praise thee. this morning‘s scene at the stables: Amada naked and screaming in bed whiled from the doorway her lord and master looked on in meek silence.‖ thought Doña Lupeng. woman?‖ asked Don Paeng. ―All the sisters being virtuous. all the brothers are brave. And she wondered peevishly what the braggarts were being so cocky about? For this arrogance. too! She recalled. Lupeng. The children tittered. this pride.‖ . vindictively. They seemed improper—almost obscene—and the discovery of such depths of wickedness in herself appalled her. Their mother colored and hung her head. And was it not the mystery of a woman in her flowers that had restored the tongue of that old Hebrew prophet? ―Look. She was beginning to feel ashamed of the thoughts that had filled her mind. till she felt faint with it and pressed a handkerchief to her nose. looking very young and elegant in her white frock. ―Do you mean to stand all the way?‖ She looked around in surprise and hastily sat down. The boobies were so sure of themselves because they had always been sure of their wives. stood up even straighter. The insolent man-smell of their bodies rose all about her—wave upon wave of it—enveloping her. She moved closer to her husband to share the parasol with him. she pretended not to hear. ―Has the heat gone to your head. our tongues restore us… But Doña Lupeng. under the twirling parasol. and women could destroy it. Women had built it up: this poise of the male. assaulting her senses. this bluff male health of theirs was (she told herself) founded on the impregnable virtue of generations of good women. The children burst frankly into laughter. smiling. standing in the stopped carriage. stared down on the passing male horde with increasing annoyance.‖ Don Paeng was saying. with a bitterness that rather surprised her.
and the young man sprawled flat on his belly.‖ BUT WHEN THAT afternoon. among the ripe mangoes. When Doña Lupeng expressed surprise at his presence that morning in the St. at the grandfather‘s. This was the time when our young men were all going to Europe and bringing back with them. ―It was weird.‖ ―Our Amada beautiful? But she is old and fat!‖ ―She is beautiful—as that old tree you are leaning on is beautiful. the young Guido presented himself. I did not see him.‖ ―Well. ―Beautiful! Romantic! Adorable! Are those the only words you learned in Europe?‖ cried Doña Lupeng. that is always a woman‘s privilege. her legs tucked beneath her. From the house came the sudden roaring laughter of the men playing cards. to see the procession of the Tadtarin.‖ calmly insisted the young man. Guido—but that woman happens to be our cook. He will feel hurt. Paeng. But truly. The sun stood still in the west. properly attired and brushed and scented. feeling very annoyed with this young man whose eyes adored her one . Doña Lupeng seated on the grass. The children were chasing dragonflies.‖ ―The poor boy.―He waved and waved. The young Guido knew nothing of Darwin and evolution. gazing up at her. we walked all the way through the woods. not the Age of Victoria. he laughed in her face. he knew everything about Napoleon and the Revolution. It made my flesh crawl. The long day refused to end. do you know. They were out in the buzzing orchard. I and some boys. his face moist with sweat.‖ ―And was that romantic too?‖ asked Doña Lupeng. mocking her with his eyes. All those women in such a mystic frenzy! And she who was the Tadtarin last night—she was a figure right out of a flamenco!‖ ―I fear to disenchant you. John‘s crowd. Doña Lupeng was so charming and gracious with him that he was enchanted and gazed after her all afternoon with enamored eyes.‖ ―She is beautiful. ―But I adore these old fiestas of ours! They are so romantic! Last night. but the Age of Byron.
like a glove. have I offended you?‖ ―Is this how they talk to decent women in Europe?‖ ―They do not talk to women. like the tides of the sea.‖ ―The moon?‖ ―—who is the Lord of the women. Guido?‖ ―How sharp you are! Oh. and the moon before the sun. no. I can only feel it. over my arm.‖ ―Why?‖ ―Because the tides of women. How your husband would have despised me!‖ ―But what on earth does it mean?‖ ―I think it is to remind us men that once upon a time you women were supreme and we men were the slaves.‖ ―But they are in honor of St. are tides of the moon. I made such love to a toothless old hag there that she pulled off her stocking for me. Those rituals come to us from the earliest dawn of the world. and the priestess before the priest. John. And I pulled it on. Why. And it frightens me. Because the first blood -But what is the matter.‖ . they pray to them—as men did in the dawn of the world. And the dominant figure is not the male but the female. I also learned to open my eyes over there—to see the holiness and the mystery of what is vulgar. Lupe? Oh. John to do with them? Those women worship a more ancient lord.‖ ―But surely there have always been kings?‖ ―Oh. The queen came before the king.‖ ―What has your St. ―Ah. for instance?‖ ―I do not know.‖ ―And what is so holy and mysterious about—about the Tadtarin. do you know that no man may join those rites unless he first puts on some article of women‘s apparel and—― ―And what did you put on.moment and mocked her the next.
you are mad! mad!‖ ―Why are you so afraid. It was heat without gradations: that knew no twilights and no dawns. transfixed—and he felt her violent shudder. She stared down in sudden horror. that was still there. She backed away slowly.‖ She glanced at him coldly. Paeng? embarrassed—as a man?‖ ―A good husband has constant confidence in the good sense of his wife. dragged himself forward on the ground and solemnly kissed the tips of her shoes. I only wish you to remember that I am a married woman. . A beautiful woman. propping up his elbows. the young man. ON THE WAY home that evening Don Paeng noticed that his wife was in a mood. Guido! And besides—where have those children gone to! I must go after them. then turned and fled toward the house. ―Yes! All afternoon. before the sun had risen. They were alone in the carriage: the children were staying overnight at their grandfather‘s. Lupe?‖ ―I afraid? And of whom? My dear boy. I implore you! Have pity on me!‖ ―No more of your comedy. and she rose to her feet. you still have your mother‘s milk in your mouth. ―Has young Guido been annoying you?‖ asked Don Paeng.‖ ―I remember that you are a woman. after the sun had set. that would be there already.‖ ―These young men today—what a disgrace they are! I felt embarrassed as a man to see him following you about with those eyes of a whipped dog. ―And was that all you felt. ―Do not go. And why not? Did you turn into some dreadful monster when you married? Did you stop being a woman? Did you stop being beautiful? Then why should my eyes not tell you what you are—just because you are married?‖ ―Ah.―Oh.‖ he pronounced grandly. The heat had not subsided. this is too much now!‖ cried Doña Lupeng. yes. and smiled at her.‖ As she lifted her skirts to walk away. still staring.
I have not seen it since I was a little girl. banged the lid shut.‖ ―I told you: No! go and take those clothes off. and he released her sulkily. huddled herself in the other corner. bit off an end of the cigar.‖ ―But maybe we do not want to be loved and respected—but to be adored.‖ ―A pack of loafers we are feeding!‖ She had risen and gone to the window. he found her in the dark parlour seated at the harp and plucking out a tune. ―Do you see? They have the instincts. still in her white frock and shoes. ―But I want to go! My head aches worse in the house. opened the box of cigars. her eyes on his face. not responding. When Don Paeng. I want to see it. whatever has got into you!‖ he strode off to the table. She was still standing by the window and her chin was up. grasped her elbows and. And tonight is the last night. Paeng. to follow her like a dog. But she stood still.‖ ―You must be crazy! Only low people go there. . came down from the bedroom. ―He kissed my feet. the style of the canalla! To kiss a woman‘s feet. stooping. He approached and stood behind her. The Tadtarin. took one. He frowned and made a gesture of distaste. having bathed and changed. and glared about for a light. But. ―How can you bear those hot clothes. woman. For a favor. I mean.But she drew away. The cads and lunatics—they ‗adore‘ the women. She turned around to face him.‖ she told him disdainfully. too. Paeng. they have all gone to see the Tadtarin. Lupeng? And why the darkness? Order someone to bring light in here. ―Listen. And I thought you had a headache?‖ He was still sulking. to adore her like a slave –‖ ―Is it so shameful for a man to adore women?‖ ―A gentleman loves and respects Woman.‖ ―There is no one. kissed the nape of her neck.‖ But when they reached home she did not lie down but wandered listlessly through the empty house.
her eyes shining in the dark and her chin thrust up. The moon had not yet risen. On the first night. do not come—but I am going. The plaza itself and the sidewalks were filled with chattering. grotesque image. Lupeng. a doomed captive these . she looked so young. Paeng. strolling. You cannot forbid me.‖ But standing very straight in her white frock. have the coach ordered!‖ THE CULT OF the Tadtarin is celebrated on three days: the feast of St. John indeed in the hands of the Herodias. bobbing and swaying above the hysterical female horde and looking at once so comical and so pathetic that Don Paeng. Lupe. The plaza rang with the shouts of people and the neighing of horses—and with another keener sound: a sound as of sea-waves steadily rolling nearer. There is nothing wrong with it. let us go. profusely sweating people. surging forth on the street. John!‖ cried the people on the sidewalks. a mature woman. was outraged. The crowd parted. that his heart was touched. to be struggling to escape—a St. do not provoke me!‖ ―I will go with Amada. everyone dances. a wand in one hand. And ―Here come the women with their St. if you do want to come. and on the third. black shawls flying around their shoulders. But the Tadtarin. a group of girls bore aloft a little black image of the Baptist—a crude. a bunch of seedling in the other. More people were crowded on the balconies and windows of the houses.―Very well. and their long hair streaming and covered with leaves and flowers. Entoy can take us. ―Here they come now!‖ cried the people on the balconies. writhing women. quite a stream of carriages was flowing leisurely. screaming. primitive. and up the street came the prancing.‖ ―I warn you. The image seemed to be crying for help. in the windless sky the lightning‘s abruptly branching fire seemed the nerves of the tortured air made visible. The carriages halted and their occupants descended. on the second. their eyes wild. The Moretas were constantly being hailed from the other vehicles. In these processions. so fragile. Around the tiny plaza in front of the barrio chapel. its big-eyed head too big for its puny naked torso. the heat ahs touched you in the head. smiled ruefully. ―Yes. He sighed. the black night smoldered. Behind her. watching with his wife on the sidewalk. Come. John and the two preceding days. and shrugged his shoulders. a small old woman with white hair. walked with calm dignity in the midst of the female tumult. And since you are so set on it— very well. a very old woman who dies and comes to life again. I am not a child. as in those of Pakil and Obando. a young girl heads the procession.
and the sweat gleaning on her face. ―Come. They pulled off and waved their shawls and whirled and began dancing again—laughing and dancing with such joyous exciting abandon that the people in the square and on the sidewalk.‖ said Don Paeng to his wife. towards the chapel. the black-shawled women stopped wailing and a girl approached and unshrouded the Tadtarin. Don Paeng ran after her. and even those on the balconies. and ran into the crowd of dancing women. the teeth bared in the slack mouth. He grasped her arm—but just then a flash of lightning blazed and the screaming women fell silent: the Tadtarin was about to die. which was moving again. but she nodded meekly and allowed herself to be led away. let us go now. her head thrust forward and her eyes bulging. Inside poured the entire procession. He turned to his wife. packed. dancing and he pursuing—till. to take her away—but she was watching greedily. planting her arms akimbo. taut and breathless. her face lifted to the moonlight. Girls broke away from their parents and wives from their husbands to join in the orgy. Overhead the sky was brightening. animal keening. but she laughed and shook her head and darted deeper into the dense maze of procession. struggled with sudden panic to fight his way out. They covered their heads with their black shawls and began wailing softly. He followed her. A pallet was brought and set on the ground and she was laid in it and her face covered with a shroud. Don Paeng flushed hotly: he felt that all those women had personally insulted him. She flung her hands to her hair and whirled and her hair came undone. When the moon rose and flooded with hot brilliance the moveless crowded square. laughing—and through the thick of the female horde they lost and found and lost each other again—she. too. shouting her name. darted off. they were both swallowed up into the hot.witches were subjecting first to their derision. . she began to trip a nimble measure. tears trembled on her lashes. Her hands still clutched the wand and the seedlings. The women drew away. She was shaking with fascination. an indistinctive folk-movement. and Don Paeng. silver light defined the rooftops. turbulent darkness of the chapel. But suddenly she pulled free from his grasp. She rose to her feet and extended the wand and the seedlings and the women joined in a mighty shout. carried along by the tide. Angry voices rose all about him in the stifling darkness. shouting. Her eyes brimmed with moonlight. a gross and brutal caricature of his sex. and her mouth with laughter. The old woman closed her eyes and bowed her head and sank slowly to her knees. leaving her in a cleared space. who opened her eyes and sat up. unhumanly—a hushed. Then. she eluded him. were soon laughing and dancing. She tossed her head back and her arched throat bloomed whitely. Don Paeng was horrified. finding himself trapped tight among milling female bodies.
Don Paeng?‖ ―Nothing. ―Abah. have they pulled out his tongue too?‖ she wondered aloud. let me pass. it is a man!‖ ―How dare he come in here?‖ ―Break his head!‖ ―Throw the animal out!‖ ‖Throw him out! Throw him out!‖ shrieked the voices. shameless one. she smiled coolly. or I kick you!‖ ―Let me pass. my shawl!‖ ―Stop pushing. you harlots!‖ cried Don Paeng. and clawed at his flesh. half-dragged to the doorway and rolled out to the street. down to his knees.‖ When she entered the coach and saw his bruised face and torn clothing. while unseen hands struck and struck his face. as—kicked and buffeted. . Entoy came running to meet him. with all his strength— but they closed in as savagely: solid walls of flesh that crushed upon him and pinned his arms helpless. and halfshoved. Where is the coach?‖ ―Just over there. these are only scratches.―Hoy you are crushing my feet!‖ ―And let go of my shawl. But you are wounded in the face!‖ ―No. and Don Paeng found himself surrounded by a swarm of gleaming eyes. Go and get the señora. ―But what has happened to you. Terror possessed him and he struck out savagely with both fists. ―What a sight you are. man! What have you done with yourself?‖ And when he did not answer: ―Why. his eyes blind and his torn mouth salty with blood—he was pushed down. He picked himself up at once and walked away with a dignity that forbade the crowd gathered outside to laugh or to pity. and ravaged his hair and clothes. sir. We are going home.
she was still as light-hearted. .‖ ―Yet you would dare whip me –‖ ―Because I love you.‖ ―But why?‖ ―Because you have behaved tonight like a lewd woman. then I was always a lewd woman and a whipping will not change me—though you whipped me till I died.‖ ―No.‖ He flushed darkly. how do I know what to think of you? I was sure I knew you as I knew myself. ―What are you going to do. ―Why should I want to?‖ he demanded peevishly. Lupe?‖ ―Because it is true.AND WHEN THEY are home and stood facing each other in the bedroom. I did not say that!‖ ―Then why not say it? It is true. you want me to pay for your bruises. because I respect you.‖ ―How I behaved tonight is what I am. you want to say it!‖ But he struggled against her power. ―How can you say that.‖ ―And because if you ceased to respect me you would cease to respect yourself?‖ ―Ah. You have been whipped by the women and now you think to avenge yourself by whipping me.‖ His shoulders sagged and his face dulled. But now you are as distant and strange to me as a female Turk in Africa. Rafael?‖ ―I am going to give you a whipping. And you want to say it. If you call that lewd. ―If you can think that of me –‖ ―You could think me a lewd woman!‖ ―Oh.‖ ―I want this madness to die in you.
―I adore you. That the air you breathe and the ground you tread is so holy to me. your slave. lifted his hands and grasped the white foot and kiss it savagely . till behind her loomed the open window. But she was waiting for him to speak. She raised her skirts and contemptuously thrust out a naked foot. the frail ankle . it was a monstrous agony to remain standing. That I adore you. he sank heavily to his knees. ―Why suffer and suffer? And in the end you would only submit. breathing hard and streaming with sweat. and she cried: ―Then come. He lifted his dripping face and touched his bruised lips to her toes. his fine body curiously diminished now in its ravaged apparel.‖ He was exhausted at last. she stopped. he sprawled down flat and.‖ he said tonelessly. And he. ―Until you have said to me. his face flat on the floor. gaspingly clawed his way across the floor. panting. and leaned against the sill. I cannot whip you!‖ he confessed miserably.‖ But he still struggled stubbornly.‖ she taunted. like a great agonized lizard. and kiss my feet!‖ Without moment‘s hesitation. crawl on the floor.while she bit her lips and clutched in pain at the whole windowsill her body and her loose hair streaming . in his dead voice: ―That I adore you. the huge glittering moon. either you must say it—or you must whip me. working his arms and legs. the sole. ―Then say it! Say it!‖ she cried. Her eyes were upon him and the shameful fear that had unmanned him in the dark chapel possessed him again. That I worship you.―Because. there can be no peace between us. the woman steadily backing away as he approached. her eyes watching him avidly. His legs had turned to water. pounding her clenched fists together. Her fists were still clenched. Lupe. ―Is it not enough that you have me helpless? Is it not enough that I feel what you want me feel?‖ But she shook her head furiously. the rapid flashes of lightning. ―No.. That I am your dog. She strained forward avidly.kissed the step. her nostrils dilating. forcing him to speak.. He lay exhausted at her feet. ―What? What did you say?‖ she screamed.‖ But it was still not enough.
the singing and the gold! It was the same night I met Celestino Fabia. mostly women. they wanted me to tell them things about it because my country had become a lost country. Over it a great silence hung. And they rolled on the pavements like the ghost feet of a thousand autumns long dead. "So when I saw your name in the papers where it says you come from the Islands and that you're going to talk. who went out to war: where could he be now this month when leaves were turning into gold and the fragrance of gathered apples was in the wind? It was a cold night when I left my room at the hotel for a usual speaking engagement. Everywhere in the land the enemy stalked. and their boys were there. lands without apple trees. who had a farm about thirty miles east of Kalamazoo." he answered quickly. Scent of an Apple By Bienvenido Santos When I arrived in Kalamazoo it was October and the war was still on. I come right away. watching the smoke rising above the elms. both of them thinking the same thought perhaps. "You came all that way on a night like this just to hear me talk?" "I've seen no Filipino for so many years now. Under the lampposts the leaves shone like bronze. In a backyard an old man burned leaves and twigs while a gray-haired woman sat on the porch. A heavy wind coming up from Lake Michigan was icy on the face. unheard from. If felt like winter straying early in the northern woodlands. It appeared they wanted me to talk about my country.streaming fluid and black in the white night where the huge moon glowed like a sun and the dry air flamed into lightning and the pure heat burned with the immense intense fever of noon.out the window . long before the boys left for faraway lands without great icy winds and promise of winter early in the air. about a tall. her red hands quiet on her lap. I walked but a little way. grinning boy with his blue eyes and flying hair. Gold and silver stars hung on pennants above silent windows of white and brick-red cottages. or they ." Earlier that night I had addressed a college crowd. "just a Filipino farmer" as he called himself.
I tried to answer the question as best I could. saying. the audience wanted to know whether there was much difference between our women and the American women." The man stood to answer." He had spoken slowly. except that they looked friendly. thinking of harvest moons and the smell of forest fire.were on their way to some little known island on the Pacific. in a voice that seemed used to wide open spaces. they dressed proper and went for no monkey business." he began. I want to find out. "First." I said as the voices gradually died down and every eye seemed upon me. and they were faithful. young boys all." Now I knew what I was going to say. he must have held on to certain ideals. "First. In the distance." he said. that I did not know that much about American women. they went to church regular. And they seemed so far away during those terrible years that I must have spoken of them with a little fervor. among other things. added. It was not hard talking about our own people. they wore their hair long. they were modest. a Filipino. I knew that he was. Never will perhaps. it seemed to me that moment as I looked towards my countryman. I must give him an answer that would not make him so unhappy. even illusions peculiar to the exile. like me. . I weighed my answer carefully. "I'm a Filipino. I did not want to tell a lie yet I did not want to say anything that would seem platitudinous. insincere. I knew them well and I loved them. tell me what our women were like twenty years ago. a man rose from the rear of the hall. and now in what seemed like an afterthought. Twenty years ago our women were nice. But more important than these considerations. hushed and intrigued. but differences or similarities in inner qualities such as naturally belonged to the heart or to the mind. . all these years. certain beliefs. . he looked slight and old and very brown." He waved his hand toward the door. wanting to say something. Even before he spoke. While I was trying to explain away the fact that it was not easy to make comparisons. sir. "I left the Philippines more than twenty years ago and have never been back. In the open forum that followed. I could only speak about with vagueness. are our Filipino women the same like they were twenty years ago?" As he sat down. loud and clear. a little nostalgia. "I'm just a Filipino farmer out in the country. "you're too young . Surely. the hall filled with voices. "It's the men who ain't. They were natural. "Yes. hardly men.
" he said. "No. said goodnight." "I bet he is. we were never alone. Kindly American friends talked to us. I'd call for you tomorrow afternoon." I began. in the manner of one who." "Honest. Will that be alright?" "Of course. Ruth is a country girl and hasn't met many Filipinos. "You flatter me. God-fearing. has been on the outside only. We had not talked very much on the way. had found no cause to regret one's sentimental investment. as we walked outside. he goes to school in town. you know. " Now he smiled." he continued smiling almost sweetly. There was plenty of time. sir. and later. ineffectual . After this. "I've seen the children of some of the boys by their American wives and the boys are tall. then drive you back. here. he'd be tall. cleaner looking." I was leaving Kalamazoo for Muncie." "Roger. "it will interest you to know that our women have changed--but definitely! The change. modest." he said. and we don't get to town very often. A bus takes him early in the morning and he's back in the afternoon."Well. Inside. faithful. and nice. he truly smiled." I said. We're just poor farmer folk. at about three in the afternoon." "I got a car. asked us questions. "you are tired. There was a mild. You'll like him. . taller than their father." he said. I mean Filipinos younger than I. and very good looking. Indiana. He's nice boy. "besides . And I don't want to stay out too late. you live very far. having stakes on the land. She'll be very happy. "I want you to have dinner with my family out in the country. "You will make my wife very happy. So now I asked him whether he cared to step into the lobby with me and talk." pointing to the heart. "Will you do me a favor." I agreed. however. everything that was said and done in that hall that night seemed like an anticlimax. he gave me his name and told me of his farm thirty miles east of the city. Roger." The man was visibly moved." he said. The next day he came. in two days." "Yes. As a matter of fact. "I'm very happy." Then he said goodbye and I waved to him as he disappeared in the darkness. "I'd love to meet your family. "they are the same as they were twenty years ago. that's my boy. thank you. please. We had stopped at the main entrance to the hotel lobby. All night I had been watching his face and I wondered when he was going to smile. .
daddy. but the house is a mess. the remembered hurt. The trees are getting ready to die. He looked younger than he appeared the night before now that he was clean shaven and seemed ready to go to a party. quit kidding. those are apple trees. it's always a mess. Oh." I said. and they show their colors. aw. He was wearing an old brown tweed jacket and worsted trousers to match. It touched him off on a long deserted tangent. there's no such thing as first class Filipino. So you can see what a nice boy he is. he asks. do you? We're poor folks. and it was not too cold. he believed me immediately. Aw. I'm bringing you a first class Filipino. but you are. and although the green of his tie seemed faded. and she says. he says. I'll show you. How many times did lonely mind take unpleasant detours away from the familiar winding lanes towards home for fear of this. no. so innocent. but ever there perhaps. He was remembering his own youth. the long lost youth." he kept repeating as he led me to his car--a nondescript thing in faded black that had known better days and many hands. I got an apple orchard." All the beauty of the afternoon seemed in the distance." I said. "Yes. on the hills. that's my boy. "Do you like apples? I got lots of 'em. I realized later. you know. All around were dead leaves and dry earth. It was a rugged road we were traveling and the car made so much noise that I could not hear everything he said. how many times indeed. He was telling his story for the first time in many years. she says. and came out on barren land overgrown with weeds in places. "Those trees are beautiful on the hills. That remark seemed unkind. Then Ruth starts griping about the house. he's first class. Ruth can't believe it. but you don't mind. your daddy ain't first class. "I says to her. In these odd moments there seemed no cause for fear no cause at all. We passed through narrow lanes and disappeared into thickets. "Oh. only the exile knows. you will see. "Aren't those apple trees?" I asked wanting to be sure. in the dull soft sky. daddy. True it's a mess. He was thinking of home. I says. but I understood him.sun shining. "Autumn's a lovely season. I laugh at him. In the distance were apple trees. Like you daddy? No. That . But Roger. a colored shirt hardly accentuated it. The trip seemed interminable. proud-like. What's he like. no pain. His shoes were polished." "No such thing in our own country. the grim shadows of the years." he replied. He was grinning as we met. go away.
buds pointing downwards. I grew up there into a pampered brat. In all these years. I miss that house. the roosting chickens on the low-topped walls. He ranted. I thought of the cottages of the poor colored folk in the south. He moved about. And my brothers and sisters took up my father's hate for me and multiplied it numberless times in their own broken hearts. Mother sitting in her chair.would come later. Or lonely on the farm under the apple trees. Even the lovely season could not color it with beauty. Such nights. all but ready to crumble in a heap on the ground. As they fell on the floor. But sometimes. In the night perhaps. A door opened heavily and you enter a dark hall leading to the stairs. You have been there? You could not have missed our house. The house stood right on the edge of the street. . I miss my brothers and sisters. I cannot remember the sound of her voice. despising it. I was no good. they are no better than the days. father bent to pick them and throw them out into the coral streets. windows are closed against the sun. Roger seemed newly scrubbed. I saw mother cry wordlessly as father heaped his curses upon me and drove me out of the house. her domain. Leafy plants grew on the sides. A fat blonde woman stood at the door with a little boy by her side. Mother sits in her corner looking very white and sick. massive tree trunks from the forests. I would remember the great live posts. ours was a big family. I was born in that house. . many times. His hands were strong. Ruth had a clean apron around her shapeless waist. many times. This was her world. This one stood all by itself as though by common consent all the folk that used to live here had decided to say away. they close heavily. one of the oldest. Now as she shook my hands in . it was the biggest in town. the floor was hardly a foot from the ground. I was mean. you know. He hardly took his eyes off me. In this old Visayan town. there is the familiar sound they make and you grope your way up a massive staircase. the gate closing heavily after me. wilted and died before they could become flowers. Finally we rounded a deep curve and suddenly came upon a shanty. He lived in the past and talked of honor as though it were the only thing. One day I broke their hearts. ashamed of it. I have kissed these hands . the streets are narrow and dirty and strewn with coral shells. Father was different. the hovels of the poor everywhere in the land. the bannisters smooth upon the trembling hand. looking like a pale ghost in a corner of the room. There is the smell of chickens roosting on the low-topped walls. its plastered walls were rotting away. He shouted. A dog barked loudly as we approached.
" I said. The room is full of it. It was twilight now and the apple trees stood bare against a glowing western sky. immediately I was aware of the familiar scent of apples. The walls were bare. "Isn't he nice looking?" his father asked." Then he showed me around the farm. It was yellow and soiled with many fingerings. He showed me a backroom." he explained. ." Ruth came with a plate full of apples. In apple blossom time it must be lovely here. and going to the kitchen for more food. how coarse and red with labor. "I picked that picture many years ago in a room on La Salle street in Chicago. "Every day. She kept coming in and out of a rear room that must have been the kitchen and soon the table was heavy with food. Roger ate like a little gentleman. picking out a ripe one. Ruth kept standing. "I take some of them to town to sell to the groceries. no. "Ah. I've been losing on the trips. Prices have been low. and green peas and corn on the ear." he said." I said. It was a young face and good. You look like Daddy. Ruth got busy with the drinks.sincere delight I noticed shamefacedly (that I should notice) how rough her hands were. Over the dining table hung a lamp yet unlighted. The faded figure of a woman in Philippine dress could yet be distinguished although the face had become a blur. Roger. "You are a handsome boy." Fabia hastened to say. In the middle of the room stood a stove to keep the family warm in winter. But what about wintertime? . I have often wondered who she is. It was half-full of apples." I cried. "I've been thinking where all the scent of apples came from. Even as we ate. As we stepped inside and the door closed behind us. Afterwards I noticed an old picture leaning on the top of a dresser and stood to pick it up. " I began. ." "These apples will spoil. not very big. "We'll feed them to the pigs. how ugly! She was no longer young and her smile was pathetic. "I don't know who she is. The room was bare except for a few ancient pieces of secondhand furniture. "Your ." "I'll show you. fried chicken legs and rice." said Fabia. The boy smiled at me." "The face wasn't a blur in the beginning?" "Oh.
he had an attack of acute appendicitis. "you'll freeze to death. The snow lay heavy everywhere. "I won't leave you. "like our own Filipino women. The mailman. Ruth!" her husband cried. She slept in a corridor outside the patients' ward and in the day time helped in scrubbing the floor and washing the dishes and cleaning the men's things. dragging him through the newly made path towards the road where they waited for the U. we could not hear it anymore. "Well. "They'll be waiting for me now. except where the headlamps revealed a stretch of road leading somewhere. took the sick man and his wife direct to the nearest hospital." I said. I had a last glimpse of the apple trees in the orchard under the darkened sky as Fabia backed up the car. And soon we were on our way back to town. Fabia did not talk this time. She shoveled the snow from their front door and practically carried the suffering man on her shoulders." he said. and. At first she did not know what to do. and I saw him extend his hand. "Tell Ruth and Roger. Ruth was pregnant and none too well herself. Ruth and Roger stood at the door holding hands and smiling at me. Even as she massaged his arms and legs. Mail car arrived. I guess I won't be seeing you again. Fabia said." But she clung to him wordlessly. Without getting off the car. until finally. The dog had started barking. But when finally we came to the hotel and I got down.One day." He dropped my hand quickly. They didn't have enough money and Ruth was willing to work like a slave. "Go back to the house. he took me back to the hotel." said Fabia. a low light flickered." Before nightfall. Finally the U. Ruth stayed in the hospital with Fabia. Meanwhile snowflakes poured all over them and she kept rubbing the man's arms and legs as she herself nearly froze to death. helped them board the car. I didn't seem to have anything to say myself. . Mail car to pass." she repeated. We could hear it for some time. her tears rolled down her cheeks.S. "I love them. according to Fabia. who knew them well. From inside the room of the shanty." It was dimly lighted in front of the hotel and I could hardly see Fabia's face. and all was darkness around us. "Ruth's a nice girl.S. he moved to where I had sat. It was deep winter. a few years ago. She bundled him in warm clothing and put him on a cot near the stove. before Roger was born. without stopping on his usual route. I gripped it.
. I hurried inside. waving back into the darkness." I said. at a quarter after eight. I could go to your town. Indiana." he said softly. not knowing why I said it. very soon. nobody would remember me now." Then he started the car. I'll be going home. you see. "Thanks a lot. I hope. "one of these days. he waved his hand. and as it moved away. sounding very much defeated but brave. "Goodbye."Look. But. There was a train the next morning that left for Muncie. And suddenly the night was cold like winter straying early in these northern woodlands." "No." I said.
brave before the unexplored night. the hum of the universe. sits there and wide-eyed before the screen of the theater. the barren planets drift past the portholes like luminous flowers at once beautiful and monstrous. Ben thinks of staying for one more screening but his friend Pepe stood up to leave. looking out across the plain to the hills green in the light of the new sun. deep in a silence within him. remembering the end of the Earth. they break out into jubilant cries and dazed whispers of thanks to God. the audience waits for the lovely and terrible dream. the last men and women and children of Earth watch the asteroids. in the diffused light. the ship itself surrounded by timelessness. propelled by the flame of its engine and a certain destiny. flaming me teor-like in the night of space. He turns to his friend in a kind impatience. Cradled by a final blast of power. the spacecraft lands on the meadow: a quiet moment before the airlocks open. the stream of cosmic dust. and beyond the icebound tomb of Neptune. a sigh of wind in the nearby trees. He and Pepe go up the aisle. The survivors of the Earth climb down onto the grass. The traveler search the night for another world of air and greenness. his eyes bright. where no man would ever breath and walk again. waving to him from the aisle. floating in the ocean of space. and his hands are balled into unconscious fists. The two boys linger before the moviehouse and look up at the photo stills tacked on the display board: the nuclear-bombed cities. past the orbit of Pluto and out into the black immeasurable depths. which is in turn framed by the boundaries of the cinema screen. and the filmed prophecy ends with them gathered as on a pilgrimage beneath the vertical cylinder of their rocket. Beyond the dead seas of Mars. the rocket flashes onward. thirteen years old. New York and Paris and London. the movement of the planets and stars. more golden and more gentle than the star they have always known. tomorrow‘s spaceship. an amplified phonograph scratches out a tired rhumba. his chest tightening. A sun looms up from the blackness. Ben looks up at the pictures. the Final War. as the spaceship burns its blue-flamed journey through the night of the universe that is forever silent with a high metallic hum. The curtains close the window of the screen.The Distance to Andromeda By Gregorio Brillantes The Boy Ben. in the town of Tarlac. the usual reluctant shuffling towards the exit after the show. through years of space and time: a moving speck among the twinkling stars. Enclosed in time within the rocket. his heart thumps in awe and excitement. stepping on brittle peanut shells and candy tinfoil. there is a brief scramble for vacated seats. . the faces of the last people. and as a globe of shining water and green-shadowed land appears through the viewports. like the vibration of invisible wires. and he feels again. the flickering radioactive fires upon the lifeless continents.
The electric plant by the river thunders . Tito comes by and join them atop the bench. past the skaters and the lamp-posts of kiosko. ―there‘s no air up there. like a sick old woman abandoned by her children. children are roller-skating around the kiosko. and the Milky Way is a pale misted river dividing the sky. the border of trees and the town hall. the talk shifts to the movie Ben and Pepe have just seen. from basketball to the new swept-winged jets that passed over the town during the day. With every second the night deepens in the sky. and the stars are clear in the sudden night over the town. while the rumble of the skates rises and falls. now full and ascending. ―they‘d look like Mr. ―I wonder if there are people on Mars – like in the comics. The Southern Cross hangs in the meridian. Ben. at the kiosko.he begins to speak.‖ ―Moon. and they talk of a swim in San Miguel tomorrow morning. they agree to meet here. Ben walks home alone. In the white light of the neon lamps. and the stars swing across the sky. as if forever. while the strangeness within him strains almost like a pain for utterance. so untrue to life.‖ ―If there are any. through the small belling tinkle of the calesas and the warm gasoline dust. The two boys get up on the bench and sit on the back rest and watch the skating children.‖ says Pepe. The empty house on Romulo Street stares at him through a vein of vines. going around. The stars are faraway suns… The strangeness stirs in silence within him: the unknowable words die stillborn in his mind. After a few random topics. Ben looks up at the stars. but the hum and movement cannot be uttered. the halfman and the half-horse in Centaurus rides over the acacias. They come to the plaza. nobody‘s going to land on the moon. As though in obedience to some secret signal. Tito does not go for that kind of picture. ―C‘mon. Cruz.‖ ―Do you think people will ever get to the moon?‖ ―Ahh. rocketship. and the boy joins in the casual conversation. Mars – what kind of crazy talk is that?‖ With comic farewells. the continuous rumbling sound of the skaters rises and falls with the quality of the cemented rink: now hollow and receding. after the last Mass. back across the plaza. and they cross the street away from the sound and glare of the theater. around and around.‖ ―Just because he flunked you in algebra. lazy-legged and curious-eyed. seemingly unending. the three boys part ways.‖ ―They‘ll bring their oxygen in the rocketship.‖ says Tito. so fantastic he says. They saunter down the main street in the manner of boys who have no immediate reason for hurry.‖ says Tito.
waiting: for a streak of blue flame. the massive dynamos producing heat and light. and he is suddenly lonely. He stands alone on the bridge.compressedly as he goes by. the other worlds… He recalls the view of the heavens through the port holes of the rocket. The rocket. quivering in the air. shrinking. helpless. Where and why … Thousands of years away by the speed of light. the vast humming turning within him. planes into a horizon. On the bridge. trembling underground. the whirlpooled suns in the book his father gave him one Christmas. the far edge of the river. . and the photographs of the galaxies. he stops to gaze at the sky. an atom wandering in the outer reaches of unknown space: to be lost and lovely forever in the starry night… He feels very tiny. without trees or houses. a signal flare among the stars. the stars seem to rise from the dark land and the water. it is as though he were discovering the power of the machines for the first time. standing between the dark river and the lights in the sky. only a boy.
‖ Sam Christie was also told. Philip Latak. too. you are welcome to it. their narrow windows shuttered and the frames advertising Coca – Cola above their doorways indistinct in the dark. They had been in the station for over half an hour and still there was no bus. Just make sure we have some left when we get Ifugao. Not Philip. Sam could make out the shapes of the stone buildings huddled. but it can knock out a man. with a hint of urgency – ―One favour. It was last month in the Philippines and in a matter of days he would return to Boston for that leave which he had not had in years. Phil raised it to his lips and made happy gurgling sounds.‖ Sam Christie kidded his companion about the weather. They had arrived in the summer .‖ the official whom Sam replaced explained ―because Philip is Ifugao and you don‘t know patience until you have seen the rice terraces his ancestors built. It had been four years that he had lived in Manila and during all these years he had never gone home. was twenty – six and was – just as Sam had been at the Agency before he assumed his post – intelligent and industrious. the cold of the pine – clad mountains seemed to bother him. no matter how urbanized they already are. ―That is to be expected.The God Stealer By Franscisco Sionel Jose They were the best of friends and that was possible because they worked in the same office and both were young and imbued with a freshness in outlook. ―Sure. He talks about it the first chance he gets. He turned to Sam and. Sam Christie was twenty – eight and his Filipino assistant. in the cold. Philip Latak seemed listless.‖ Sam and Christie said. ―that the Igorots. The bus station was actually a narrow sidestreet which sloped down to a deserted plaza. brought out a bottle of White Label – one of the four – in the bag which also contained bars of candy and cartons of cigarettes and matches for the natives. entertain a sense of inferiority. one of the many in the summer capital. on this December dawn. He zipped his old suede jacket up to his neck. Hell. it‘s not as potent as this. He is proud of his being Ifugao. Now.‖ Now.‖ ―You will find. Let me take a swig. it seemed. ―Rice wine – I hope there‘s still a jar around when we get to my grandfather‘s. As long as he has wine he will live. like the Ilocanos. He removed the tinfoil and handed the bottle to his companion. Sam Christie was on his way to Ifugao with his native assistant.‖ He stopped. He couldn‘t be as seriously sick as my brother wrote. Sam.
The bus finally came and Sam Christie. who took a swig. In the chill most of them were quiet. Do you know how much it costs nowadays? Twenty – four bucks. ―You don‘t know how good it is to have that along. The Siamese mask. Sam Christie felt sleepy. in it the mementoes of his years with the Agency. fowl. ―In winter. but cargo. Soon it was light. to that basement study his father had tidied up. Forty dollars – and the mask was worth more than that. their happy anticipation as the steaming cups were pushed before them. definite shapes. And it was only 68! My old man will get a kick out of that. ―It‘s like New England in the spring. dacron shirt with the sleeves rolled up. too. After the bus had started. The east was starting to glow and more people had arrived with crates and battered rattan suitcases.‖ he said. after college. He threw his chest out. He needed the dollars. a career with the Agency offered him the best chance of seeing the world. with woven rattan seats and side entrances that admitted not only people. I can still go around quite naked by your standards. ―I‘m glad you didn‘t fall for those carvings in Manila. the gray buildings around them emerged from the dark with white. The bus hugged the thin line of a road that was carved on the . He handed the bottle back to Sam Christie.capital the previous day and the bracing air and the scent of pine had invigorated him. They did not wait long. something in the Manila papers about it being chilly. next to the driver. a Japanese sword. golden light Sam Christie could see the heavy. but he had always wanted to travel and. a Siamese mask – and now. It was an old bus. flexed his lean arms and inhaled. Sam had not actually intended to serve in the Agency. his head knocking intermittently against the hard edge of his seat and in that limbo between wakefulness and sleep he hurtled briefly to his home in Boston. peasant faces. because he was a foreigner. and pigs. an Ifugao God.‖ Phil said after a while. when it really gets cold. A Grecian urn.‖ ―But it‘s really cold!‖ Philip Latak said ruefully.‖ Now.‖ Sam spoke in a monotone.‖ Sam Christie said simply. A coffee shop opened along the street with a great deal of clatter and in its warm. in their bare feet or with canvas shoes who sat in the rear. for the bats filled up quickly with government clerks going to their posts and hefty Igorots. I sent home a clipping this week. was given the seat of honour. for the first time during their stay in Baguio.‖ ―It‘s cheaper at the commissary. He wore a white. talking and smelling of earth and strong tobacco. ―it was really a bargain. A student was going to Boston. so I told him he could get the money from my father. He dozed.
to their very faces. ―And the village doctor.‖ ―And the doctor?‖ ―He was broad – minded. Philip turned to the man and acknowledged the greeting and to Sam he explained: ―That‘s my name up here – and that‘s why I was baptized Philip. across the ravines and the gray socks.‖ ―It must be have been quite a night. Sunflowers burst on the slopes.‖ Now they were in the heart of the highlands. I was taken ill when I was young – something I ate. ―I realized that the old man never did that thing again for anyone. ―Mumbo – jumbo stuff. loftier than those in Baguio. the gongs and stamping.‖ ―Hell.‖ he said. The pine trees were bigger. ―There isn‘t much worth knowing about him. I had to go to the Mission Hospital – and that evening he came and right there in the ward he danced to drive away the evil spirit that had gotten hold of me. And Sam Christie. was quiet. you know.‖ Philip said.‖ ―He must be a character. ―How old is he?‖ ―Eighty or more. I was never so embarrassed in my life. and most were wreathing with hoary moss.‖ Sam Christie said. The bus swung around the curves and it paused. ―Ip – pig!‖ the name did not jell at once and the man shouted again. ―Much later. The sun rode over the mountains and the rocks shone – and over everything the mist. bright yellow against the grass. perhaps. pervasive and alive.‖ Philip said.‖ Sam Christie realized there were many things he did not know about Phil. was shimmery sky and endless ranges also draped with this mist that swirled. ―Tell me more about your grandfather. as fine as powder. ―They withstood it. not even when his own son – my father – lay dying.‖ Philip Latak said. twice or thrice to allow them to take . in the midst of all this whiteness and life. Pine trees studded both sides of the road and beyond their green. Someone in the bus recognized Philip and he called out in the native tongue. still laughing. danced.‖ his voice became soft and a smile lingered in his thick – lidded eyes. thinking of it.‖ Philip said.mountainside. shaking his head.
‖ Another peal of laughter. After a while he nudged Philip. He mused on whether or not these terraces were necessary. the terraces are colossal. without warning upon the water – filled rice terraces stretched out in the sun and laid out tier upon shining tier to the very summit of the mountains. ―breed independence. and residence. the school. It was a boarding house and a small curio store was on the ground floor. The trip had not been exhausting. was replaced by a sense of wastefulness. at the geometric patterns of the sweet – potato patches there and the crystal waters that cascaded down the mountainsides and the streams below. whose fronts were plastered with impieties of soft – drink and patent – medicine signs. would I go to Manila?‖ Their destination was no more than a cluster of houses beyond the gleaming tiers. And in the stores were crowds of people. remembered the Alpine roads of Europe and those of his own New England – and about these he talked effusively. Sam Christie did not speak. heavy – jowled Ifugaos in G – string and tattered Western coats that must have reached them in relief packages from the United States. along its main street lined with wooden frame houses. The women wore the native gay blouses and skirts.‖ Then. they came. The first view of the terraces left in Sam‘s mind a kind of stupefaction which. ―Yeah. It conformed with the usual small – town arrangement and was properly palisaded with stores. Sam Christie. It was past noon when they reached the feral fringes of the Ifugao country. if I can live here. for he had sounded so empty and trite. when it had cleared. The people. and across the creek. And in the face of that achievement. A creek ran through the town.‖ Philip Latak said. ―That‘s where I first learned about Jesus Christ and scotch.‖ Sam Christie said. on top of which stood the Mission – four red – roofed buildings – the chapel. for there was much to see. ―Hell. printed curtains. beyond the town.‖ And he wished he had expressed his admiration better. Mountain people are always self – reliant. gazing down at the ravines. since he knew that beyond these hand – carved genealogical monuments were plains that could be had for the asking. was a hill.coffee. ―They marked me for success. a shapeless wooden building with rusting tin proof and cheap. too. ―And you say that these terraces do not produce enough food for the people?‖ Philip Latak turned quizzically to him. soap. ―See how vegetation changes. at turn of a hill. The two travellers got down from the bus and walked to one of the bigger houses. milk. . the hospital. together with the usual merchandise of country shops: canned sardines and squid. matches. The mountains. white with froth among the rocks. The bus shuddered into first gear as it dipped down the gravel road and in a while they were in the town.
together with matches and cheap cigarettes. everyone knows the terraces are good for the eye. Philip Latak held his brother by the shoulder. brought them along. for his bringing you to this poor house.. Sadek said. after a plentiful lunch of fried highland rice and venison. Hell.‖ Philip Latak reiterated apologetically as they brought their things up.‖ Then.‖ Philip said. A lone house roofed with tin stood at one end of the village. sir. feeling uneasy at hearing the speech.‖ Sam said simply.‖ he said. ―You have decided to visit us after all‖ he greeted Philip in English and with a tinge of sarcasm. was home. ―my brother dislikes me. ―I thought the city had won you so completely that you have forgotten this humble place and its humble people. but they can‘t produce enough for the stomach. The walk to Philip Latak‘s village itself was not far from the town and wherever they turned the terraces were sheets of mirror that dogged them. Like my grandfather. sir.‖ Philip Latak said with a nervous laugh. not wanting to be drawn into a family quarrel. Sam. The village was no more than ten houses in a valley. ―We could stay in my brother‘s place. They think that by living in Manila for a few years I have . All of them here dislike me. ―My brother‘s. ―You see. ―I know.‖ Past noon.‖ Sadek said. he feels that I shouldn‘t have left this place.‖ Sadek. ―But it‘s true.‖ ―That‘s not a nice thing to say. which overlooked the creek and the mountain terraced to the very summit. an acquaintance of Philip Latak. at Phil‘s suggestion. He had. for his ―private assistance program. ―My brother dislikes me. They stood on stilts and all their four posts were crowned with circular rat guards. for my brother. ―I must apologize.‖ ―We work in the same office. ―Shall I bring the candies out now?‖ Sam asked.‖ Sam said warily. they headed for the footpath that broke from the street and disappeared behind a turn of hillside. His deed embarrasses us. He was older and spoke with authority. that I should rot here. a few bolts and twine. turning to Sam. The landlady. which were no different from the other Ifugao homes.. ―but there is no plumbing there. Philip‘s brother.kerosene. assigned them a bare room.
the children scrambling over the young American and about the floor. pleading with me and at the same time scolding me? He said I‘d get all his terraces. he will drink again. their simple faces empty of recognition. He spoke in the native tongue. their bellies shiny and disproportionately rounded and big. to Philip‘s namesake. Sam. His wife. Hell. The tallest and the oldest. a boy of thirteen or twelve. I like it down there. Sam. Sadek said. Maybe.forgotten what is to be an Ifugao. They did not move. but that did not help either.‖ His open palm brimming with the tinsel – wrapped sweets. washed it down his throat politely. But I like it down there. They stood. Ip – Pig. ―but if he wants to he can show his forgiveness by opening his wine jar.‖ he threw his chest and yawned. came out and served them Coca – Cola.‖ Then the children started stealing in.. to the bus. who was an Ifugao like him.‖ ―There‘s nothing to forgive. The children held their scrawny hands behind them and stepped back until their backs were pressed against the wall. five of them with grime on their faces.. I can‘t help it. wide – eyed. near the sagging wall. They hedged closer to one another. my brother. ―Grandfather had a high fever and we all thought the end was near. Sam strode to the oldest. Turning to Sam. in his sunburned and stolid face. He knelt. Ip – pig. aren‘t you?‖ he asked. they will never understand.‖ Sadek said. for it was the first time that he took warm Coke and it curdled his tongue. ―Give it to them. He has forgiven you. matted hair. where the candy had spilled. dumpy legs. He is no longer angry with you for leaving.‖ Philip Latak said. Sam Christie accepted the drink. but the old man said you should come. In another moment it was all noise. you are all my relatives. Sadek pointed out as Philip‘s namesake. of that simple spark that would tell him. . excruciatingly. Philip bent down and thrust a fistful of candy at his nephews and nieces. He was a farmer and the weariness of working the terraces showed in his massive arms. their feet caked with mud. Unmindful of his younger brother‘s ribbing Sadek dragged in some battered chairs from within the house and set them in the living room. My grandfather – do you know that on the day I left he followed me to the town. they like you better. ―Hell. pinched the cheeks of the dirty child next to the oldest and placed a candy in his small hand. that he belonged here. and tousled the youngster‘s black. their brows. I didn‘t want to bother you. Is he drinking still?‖ ―He has abandoned the jar for some time now. ―but now that you are here. with high cheekbones and firm.
He couldn‘t see what transpired inside and there was no invitation for him to come up. he. ―The old man wants a feast tomorrow night. Come. old voice.‖ ―You will be a damned fool if you don‘t go. Then silence. He had the most number of skulls in the village to show his social position. on his face a numbed.‖ They toiled up the hill. and above the happy sounds. he will recognize and I won‘t be a stranger to him. Philip Latak explained later on the way back to the town: ―I had asked him where we could get a god and he said he didn‘t know. his father and his mother at the Back Bay station.‖ Philip Latak turned to his friend. listening to the pleasant sounds of the homecoming. You speak our tongue. crestfallen look. the squeals of children. ―You see now that even your relatives do not know you.‖ ―See what I mean. too. the door stirring and Philip easing himself down the ladder. without another word. pigs. and he thought how the next vacation would be. However.Philip Latak watched them. high pitched with excitement and pleasure. ―let us see the old man. some could hear. He never liked strangers. He strode to the door. Philip speaking in his native tongue and there was also a crackled. which was greasy although steps had been gouged out on it for easier climbing. have I spoiled your first day here?‖ Sam objected vehemently. Ip – pig. Sadek said. this time in anger and not in pleasure. the luggage in the back seat. Now. Before going up the slender rungs of the old house Philip Latak called his grandfather twice. And. had known. up a sharp incline. me. Sam Christie waited under the grass marquee that extended above the doorway. Hell. And when I told him it was for an American friend he got mad. you can‘t do anything to an old man. tell me. Sam. We shouldn‘t have bothered with him at all. My bienvenida of course. a rustling within the house.‖ Sam heard the old man raise his voice. you have our blood – but you are a stranger nevertheless. And. the visions he conjured were dispelled. Sam. It stood on four stilts like all the rest and below its roof were the bleached skulls of goats. ―Well. he hurried down the hill. the American behind him. But after a while. was his grandfather‘s house. .‖ Sam said. dogs. Sam?‖ Philip Latak said. and on his lap this wooden idol which he now sought. Now new skulls would be added to this collection. The effusion within the hut had subsided into some sort of spirited talking and Philip was saying ―Americano – Americano. he smiled and called to mind the homecomings. and carabaos which the old man had butchered in past feats. Beyond the betel – nut plams in the yard. He said they took everything away from him – tranquillity.
―Christianity is based on fear. who offered them sweet potatoes and rice wine. As Philip Latak had warned. ―when the mist drifts in and starts to wrap the terraces and the hills. Japan. clammy and gripping. Reverend Doone reiterated what Philip had said. and one consolation of his assignment was its meagre similarity to San Francisco. ―You must understand their religion.―I‘m thinking about you. I‘m reminded of the ocean fog which steals over the white hills of San Francisco – and then I feel like I‘m home. a foolish. an Ifugao God. Then you‘ll know why the Ifugaos are so attached to it. Every calamity or every luck which happens to them is based on this relief.‖ Sam said. He was quite pleased to have a fellow American as guest. He was a San Fransiscan. the urn. It‘s a religion based on fear. laid his cup of coffee on the well – worn table and spoke . sipping coffee. ―and if you understand it. ―In the afternoons.‖ he said. then you‘ll know why it‘s difficult to get this god.‖ ―It‘s not different from Christianity then. Then it was Sam‘s turn and he rambled about the places he had seen – Greece ans the marble ruins glinting in the sun. who managed the Mission.‖ But Sam Christie‘s interest had been piqued and even when he realized that Philip Latak really did not want him to come he decided that this was one party he would not miss. too – fear of hell and final judgment. Reverend Doone. ―It will be a bore and a ghastly sight. the small green country. The missionary was a short man with a bulbous nose and heavy brows and homesickness written all over his pallid face. And after this initial amenity.‖ They had finished lunch and were in the living room of the Mission. To all of them Sam Christie was impeccably polite and charitable with his matches and his candies. retribution. A good harvest means the gods are pleased. invited them for lunch. an iron – cold rain and a nasty wind that crept under the top coat. and he kept quiet while Reverend Doone reminisced. while Philip Latak was in the kitchen. where he had gone to joke with old friends. optimistic grin on his face.‖ Philip said.‖ Reverend Doone drew back. You shouldn‘t come. They struggled up terraces and were met by howling dogs and barebottomed children and old Ifugaos. and he would turn to Sam. and the samurai sword. A bad one means they are angered. their search was fruitless. Philip would start talking and always sullen silence would answer him. Sam‘s knowledge of San Francisco was limited to a drizzly afternoon at the airport. And now.‖ he said with nostalgia. They visited the Mission the following day after having hiked to the villages.
. That‘s the difference. teetering on the sleepy trail.‖ ―They are all human beings. All that walking and all these people – how nice they were. he said with finality. ―Christianity is based on the belief that man has a soul and that soul is eternal.. ―You have seen examples. But there is less greed here and pettiness here.sternly. ―In the city – people are corrupted by easy living. the pleasures of senses and the flesh. It‘s not just some souvenir.‖ Reverend Doone smiled wanly.‖ ―How can one who loses his soul regain it?‖ Sam came back with sudden life. It belonged to a soldier who had fought in the South Pacific and had managed somehow to save the thing when he was made prisoner. There are no land – grabbers. ―His god – he believes in them. how they offered us wine and sweet potatoes.‖ In the comfort of their little room back in the town. something tragic to knock a man back to his wits.. A generation of soulless men is growing up and dictating the future. You are in the Agency and you should know the significance of this distinction. no scandals.. the mass corruption that is seeping into the government and everything. ―Besides. ―I wish I could answer that. Without a soul. Sam brought out his liquor. ―Christianity is based on love.‖ Going down the hill.. But his daughter – it‘s a sad story – she had to go to college.‖ .‖ Reverend Doone said humbly. she was majoring English and she didn‘t have tuition money. of this place. Sam decided to bare his mind to Philip who was below him. But look what is in this mountain – locked country. to make him realize his loss. It‘s more than just a souvenir. ―Well.‖ he said.‖ ―What happens when a man loses his soul?‖ Sam asked.. A pig in the sty that lives only for food. I must not leave Ifugao without that god. ―At least the hike did me good. It is poor – let there be no doubt about it. ―All I can say is that a man without a soul is nothing.‖ ―Does the Ifugao believe in a soul?‖ Reverend Doone smiled gravely. ―It takes cataclysm. It will remind me of you. They don‘t make enough to eat. The samurai sword – you should have seen the place where I got it and the people I had to deal with to get it.‖ ―Can a man lose his soul?‖ Sam insisted. mind you.‖ he said as he poured a glass for Philip.‖ Reverend Doone became thoughtful again. ―Phil.
It‘s that simple. It‘s the least I can do for you. too. but I have to be there.‖ Philip Latak said. just as you have to be somewhere. above the brooding terraces. ―Let‘s not be bull – headed about this. a faded flannel coat and old denim pants. Do you know that I have been with the Agency for four years and I never got a raise until you came?‖ ―You had it coming. ―How many people in Manila would feel honoured to attend the parties you go to?‖ ―They are a bore. I have to be there to spread sweetness and light.―You get a lot better in cocktail parties. You‘ll have your god. After a while Philip Latak spoke again: ―We will be luckier tomorrow. They did not have supper at the boarding house because in a while Sadek arrived to fetch them. We need people like you. the stars shone. ―And I have to be there – that‘s the difference. It‘s not so difficult to carve a new one. it makes me sick.‖ ―I‘m glad you are in the Agency. before I went to the Mission. Sam. ―You can‘t do that.‖ Sam emptied his glass. It‘s that simple.‖ ―You cannot steal a god. There‘s a way. And what will happen to you or to the man whose god you will steal?‖ ―Lots – if you believe all that trash. Toying with his empty glass. ―That‘s not fair. across the creek.‖ Sam said. I can steal one for you. He wore an old straw hat.‖ Philip Latak said gravely.‖ Sam stood up and waved his lean hands. he asks the question Sam loathed most: ―Why are you with the Agency. Philip laughed. He emptied the glass and raised his muddy shoes to the woollen sheet on his cot. Dust had gathered outside. Sam.‖ ―You‘ll have your god.‖ Philip said lightly ―I‘ll be afflicted with pain. Fireflies ignited the grove of pine on the ledge below the house and farther. I know.‖ Sam said. I tried it when I was young. Sometimes. ―Because I have to be somewhere.‖ Phil was silent. But he can always make another.‖ he said with great solemnity. not even for me. Sam?‖ He did not hesitate. and sank into his cot. You made this vacation possible and that raise. same with the owner. ―The butchers are ready and the guests are waiting and Grandfather has opened his wine .
piously. Come up. Philip Latak acknowledged the greetings. a few rusty – tipped spears. and set it before the fire before his grandson. dirty with use. Sam. in balancing himself on the strips of slippery earth that formed the terrace embankment. in the light of the stove fire that lived and died at one end of the one – room house. and goats.‖ The hike to the village was not difficult as it had been the previous day. Sam could see the careworn face. in jumping across the conduits of spring water that continuously gushed from springs higher up in the mountain to the terraces. Sam took in everything. ―It‘s okay. inside a bamboo corral. who was kneeling. The light in the hut became alive again and showed the artefacts within: an old. In the orange light Sam. then breaking away from the tenuous groups. savoured the gentle tang and acridness of it.‖ And Sam. he went to his grandfather‘s hut. brought out his black and ghastly – looking god. To Sam the old man extended a bowl of rice wine and Sam took it and lifted it to his lips. his bony frame shaking. He then sat down on the mud – splattered floor. could discern the unsmiling faces of men carrying spears. When they reached the village many people had already gathered and on the crest of the hill. then the wooden door opened and Philip peeped out. and dank earth. The patriarch was half – naked like the other Ifugaos. of chicken droppings. were about a dozen squealing pigs. Beyond the open door. near the slope. sonorous whang rang sharp and clear above the grunts of the dying animals. Waiting outside. The whole house smelled of filth. The old man really looked ancient and. no taller than two feet. who had now risen. the hollow cheeks. Slowly. Someone called at the door and thrust to them a wooden bowl of blood.jar. dashed up the ladder. but his loin cloth had a belt with circular bone embellishments and around his neck dangled a necklace of bronze. Sam had become an expert in scaling the dikes. dogs. the horn hands and the big – boned knees. fish traps and a small wooden trunk. and from a compartment in the roof. all ready for the sacrificial knife. scraggly hair. A pause. on which the old man‘s house stood. Philip Latak picked it up and gave it to the old man. stoic and unsmiling. the women and the children. in the blaze of the bonfire. pleased with the prospect of being inside an Ifugao house for the first time. Sam heard the same words of endearment. the white. and beyond the scattered groups. a huge fire bloomed and the flames crackled and threw quivering shadows upon the betel palms. the pigs were already being butchered and someone had started beating the gongs and their deep. gray pillow. the old man . but Sam Christie ignored these smells and attended only to the old man.
that peculiar odour of blood and the dirt of many years that had gathered in the old man‘s house. their brown.poured the living. and finally. as all nights in the Ifugao country are and that evening. too. Sam Christie watched the dancers and the singers. But Sadek would not let him go alone and.‖ and staggering forward. the wooden god.‖ Philip Latak said with drunken triumph. frothy blood on the idol‘s head and the blood washed down the ugly head to its arms and legs. on the thing.‖ Outside. He had no idea what time it was. he groped for the flashlight under his pillow. ―I told you I‘d steal a god. unsmiling face of the Ifugao. In his ears the din of gongs still rang. where rice was cooking. The clatter woke him up and. he did not need any guide. Sam Christie went to sleep with the wind soughing the pines. that he would like to return to the boarding house. . with usual levity said: ―My grandfather is thanking his god that I‘m here. The hiking that had preoccupied them during the day began to weigh on his spirits and he told Philip Latak who was with the old man before newly opened wine jar. but the steps and the tune did not have any variation and soon he was bored – completely so. he mused. He says he can die now because he has seen me again. but it must have been past midnight. having gone through the route thrice. he shoved his grandfather‘s idol at his friend. Sam let the ray play on Phil‘s face. He lifted the mosquito net and beamed the light at the dark from which had paused at the door. the rhythm of the gongs quickened and fierce chanting started. to its very feet and as he poured the blood. he thought he smelled. ―Let‘s go down. filled the air. standing.‖ Philip said. as he lay on his cot. in his mind‘s eye loomed the shrunken. The night was cool. too surprised to speak. after more senseless palaver. he recited a prayer. crept under the very skin and into the subconscious. It was Philip Latak. ―I told you I‘d get it. dirty and black and drenched with blood. in his crackled voice. at the splotch on his breast – the sacrificial blood – and finally. the hut. bloody mass. Philip turned to his American friend and. The old man picked up the idol again and. sweating bodies whirling before the fire. Sam Christie. And recalling all this in vivid sharpness. No. their guttural voices rising as one. and to the butcher‘s table where big chunks of pork and dog meat were being distributed to the guests. For some time. pushed the idol away and it fell with a thud on the floor. he returned to its niche. They made their way to the iron cauldrons. the cicadas whirring in the grass. without risking. Sam finally broke away from the party and headed for the town with Sadek behind him. He saw again the dancers. He knew the way. swaying and holding on to a black.
because in the back of his mind he was grateful that Philip Latak had brought him this dirty god. I‘ll look bad. No one saw me.. such as those that were displayed in the hotel lobbies in Manila.―You shouldn‘t have done it!‖ was all he could say.‖ ―You are lucky to have someone who loves you so much.‖ ―It‘s a miserable thing to do..‖ Philip Latak sank back on his cot. because it had significance and meaning and was no cheap tourist bait.‖ Philip said resolutely. Sam bolted up.. ―Take it back tomorrow.. ―He was wrong in being so attached to me who no longer believes in these idols. I danced a little.‖ Sam said sullenly. ―If I do. rice wine.‖ he crowed. ―Take it back. ―He will be surprised.‖ Sam said. I did it when all were busy dancing and drinking. He fumbled with the stub of candle on the table and in a while the room was bright. ―He will be surprised – and when he does he will perhaps get drunk and make a new one. He cannot say that aloud. ―He did himself wrong.‖ Sam said.‖ Philip said. And not because he has the money to build a different house. We danced and my legs – they are not rusty at all. Sadek – you have seen his house. ―I won‘t. his terraces. you don‘t have to worry.‖ But there was no conviction in him. Go to bed now and we will talk in the morning. ―Not while he lives with a hundred ignorant natives. It‘s different. and earth. because it was real. He sat on the edge of his cot and looked down at the dirty thing that lay his feet. That would be the death of my grandfather. And you did him wrong. It‘s because he doesn‘t believe in the old things any more. Philip Latak stumbled.‖ he repeated.‖ ―Yes. and held him by the shoulder. the flashlight beam still on his shiny. ―No. his wine jars. after my trouble. ―What a night. The air around him was heavy with the smell of sweat. too.‖ Philip Latak stood up and started prancing. his spears. too. ―Now.‖ Sam said almost inaudibly. ―You‘ll be waking up everyone up. . that‘s good of you. He is going to give me everything. Hell.‖ Phil whacked his stomach. porcine face.‖ ―Take it back?‖ Phil turned to him with a mocking leer.‖ ―I‘ll take it back if you won‘t. you know – with the old man. Then there will be another feast to celebrate the new god – and another god to steal. heaving himself in his cot.
It must have been too much for his heart.. so Sam quickly deduced that it must be made of good hardwood. Sam picked up the taper and quashed its flame. on other hand.‖ ―Don‘t frighten me. was the old man‘s wrinkled face.. heard his slow. ―That isn‘t funny at all. ―My grandfather is dying. The arms were too long and the legs were mere stumps. but don‘t wait.‖ Phil said. all he could ask was. then sat up and walked to the door.. The dancing and the drinking.‖ His voice was no longer drunken.‖ ―I‘ll be back as soon as I can.‖ ―Hell..‖ a pause.‖ When Sam found words again. He collapsed – an attack. how. Sam concluded . the eyes narrow and gleaming with wisdom. ―Do you think he would be happy to know that his god had been fondled by a stranger?‖ ―It‘s no time for jokes. And it was these thoughts that were rankling his mind when he heard Philip Latak snore. ―I have to leave you here.―He will kill you.‖ ―I‘m sorry. dirtied with the mud of the terraces. lying down.‖ Sam said.‖ Philip said. his voice shrill and grating. ―I‘m sorry I woke you up. for to know him would be to discover this miserly land and the hardiness (or was it foolhardiness?) which it nourished. And at his age. It was crudely shaped and its proportions were almost grotesque.‖ ―Hell.‖ ―Anything the matter?‖ Philip had already packed his things and the boy held them.. were huge. pleasant breathing and with his hand. there crowded again one irrefrangible darkness and in it. In the light he saw that the blood had dried and had lost its colour. turning momentarily to him. The idol was heavy. At the same time Sam Christie woke up it was already daylight and the sun lay pure and dazzling on the rough pine sidings of the room. The feet. ―Why. ―It‘s grandfather. ―The feast last night.‖ he said. It was Philip Latak who had stirred him.. It was not very different. I‘m just stating a fact. whatever your plans are. where Philip was talking with a boy. like a light. the canvas bag and the old suede jacket. He wished he knew more about him.. with hate. ―My nephew. Sam blinked. that should be no riddle..‖ And in his mind‘s resolute eye.‖ After the two had gone. Sam. Sam returned to the room and picked up the idol.
‖ Sam said brightly. ―I still have a half bottle of scotch. ―When is Phil coming back?‖ he asked. had started to crawl again down into town. which should be reserved only for important people.‖ Sadek said humbly... it was best that the old man had died.‖ ―He is dead?‖ Sadek nodded. from the creations of sculptors who called themselves modernists. The Chief of Police had been very helpful almost to the point of obsequiousness and Sam asked him to come up for a drink. forever. ―Come. but Sadek squirmed free from his grasp. he even found himself thinking that.‖ Sadek said. for then he bared a set of buckteeth reddened from chewing betel – nut. ―Nothing but the best for Americans. ―How is he?‖ Sam asked. as far as Philip Latak was concerned. ―It‘s about my brother. perhaps. In the back of his mind. its finality. ―Our grandfather.. he pushed it under his cot near his mud – caked shoes. After the Chief had savoured every drop in his glass. He did not find it. Philip‘s brother did not waste words.lightly. he declaimed. .‖ The party could have gone further. He looked down self – consciously at his shoes – they were a trifle big and Sam saw immediately that the pair was not Sadek‘s but Philip‘s. They had tried the villages farther up the mountains. let‘s have a drink. too. He was extremely hospitable and had volunteered to guide him to wherever he wanted to hike. anonymous face that gained character only when he smiled. Sam Christie idled in the town and developed the acquaintance of the Chief of Police. He did not face the young American and a faraway gaze was in his eyes. depressing and he was surprised even that the death of someone who was dear to a friend had not affected him at all. so that his passing would seal.‖ Sam did not press. And as if Sam‘s unspoken scrutiny bothered him. Sadek took the jacket off and held it behind him. I am honoured to taste this most wonderful hospitality. The next day.. ―Indeed. that the jacket wh ich Sadek wore was Philip‘s old suede. He did not wait for an answer.‖ He held the Ifugao by the arm. It was early afternoon when they returned and the mist. but he did not move. Sam took the news calmly. And wrapping it up in an old newspaper. ―There was nothing we could do. but it was at this moment that Sadek arrived. ―It‘s the best in the world. He saw.‖ he said. white as starch in the sum. the family‘s concern with the idol‘s dubious grace. a small man with a pinched.
‖ Sadek faced the American squarely now. ―He isn‘t going back to Manila.‖ he said sharply. You must go back to Manila.‖ Sam Christie was now troubled. In a time of grief I should at least be able to express my. rifled by the unexpected show of rudeness. but for .. It was stolen. ―How did the old man die?‖ That was the question he wanted to ask and when he did it seemed as if the words were strangled from his throat.‖ Sadek said emphatically.‖ then softly. ―Does his decision have something to do with burial customs and all that sort of thing?‖ ―It‘s not matter of custom.―And Phil?‖ Sam asked. Sadek glanced at the stranger keeping step behind him. Christie. A man his age shouldn‘t have indulged in drinking like he did. my condolence.‖ ―Of course. Sadek.‖ And wheeling round..‖ ―It was not the god. ―I cannot leave like this. Walking slowly. Sam followed him. supplicatingly.‖ ―But it wasn‘t the drink that did it. you cannot do anything now. ―All right then. of course. smiling again that meaningless grin of peasants. He had a lot of wine. ―Do come.‖ Sam said. ―Mr. sir!‖ ―I must see him.‖ Sadek said simply.‖ Sam said aloud and the words were not for Sadek alone.‖ Sadek paused again. ―And why not?‖ Sadek did not speak. sir. ―Tell me more. I‘m sorry about what happened to your grandfather. please don‘t think we are being unreasonable – and don‘t make me responsible for what will happen. ―It happened in the morning after the feast. the Ifugao walked out in the street. ―Please. ―I saw him gulp it like water.‖ ―You have already done that. ―It was the loss of the god. sir.‖ Sam insisted.
. but he is no longer a farmer of course. ―I thought you would forget.. We are not learned like him and we have never been to Manila. And that woven stuff and the utensils – do you know if we can get them before we leave tomorrow?‖ . Two feasts in so short a time. ―and we held another feast this morning. the exertion – these did it. Phil. this house that was also granary and altar. the other a farewell to him who gave us blood in us. It couldn‘t be as simple as that. crinkling his brow and wondering if he had spoken a bit too harshly or too loudly to disturb the silence within. I‘ve already packed and I was waiting. The liquor. softly. ―We buried him there. ―As long as he works. ―Phil. Remember. that his hands were unsoiled.‖ At the edge of the hilltop the open pits which had served as stoves still smoked and the dried blood of the butchered animals stained the earth. We will still shop.‖ he repeated. ―I heard you. the dancing. this flimsy thing of straw hat had survived all of time‘s ravages. ―Phil?‖ Sam Christie stood in the sun.‖ Philip Latak‘s reply from within the hut was abrupt and gruff. he will not starve here.‖ Sadek did not answer.‖ he pointed to a new digging on the side of the hill.. ―It wasn‘t the god. But my brother. raising his voice. And a pang of regret. ―Phil. You didn‘t even send word. Sam Christie found himself asking why he was here. we are leaving.. Now there was nothing to do but go up the Ifugao hut. They went down the incline and at the base of the terraces the path was wide and level again. ―My brother. Mr. tomorrow morning. which had retained its shape through hungry years and was. as it stood on this patch of earth. touched him. enjoying his liquor and his books and. everything that endured. One was a welcome to a youth gone astray. shaking his head as if a great weight had fallen on his shoulders.‖ and. And as he approached it.‖ Near the hill on which stood the old man‘s house Sadek paused again. are you there?‖ No answer. ―My grandfather always love Ip – pig – Philip – more than anyone of us. Will that be good to him. when he could very well be in his apartment in Manila. He wanted to see Ip – pig before he died.. too. of sadness.‖ he said. Sadek faced Sam. Then...himself that he was not involved. Sadek left the young American. Christie?‖ He did not wait for an answer and he droned.. but he will no longer have the pleasures that he knew. ―No. He died in Ip – pig‘s arms. maybe. a mestiza thrown in. among these primitive monuments.
‖ Sam said.‖ he said in a low. ―Let us be reasonable. their keenness.‖ Sam said..‖ Sam insisted.. do you hear? You can bring the whole mountain with you if you care.‖ ―You would have gotten it anyway. but the old man – he had always been wise. ―Don‘t blame me Phil. Philip Latak did not.‖ ―That‘s it!‖ the voice within the hut had become a shriek. toiling up the ladder and at the top rung. let‘s talk this over. ―That‘s it! You‘ll always find a way because you have all the money. his voice starting to quiver. because I wanted to be grateful. anguished voice. You can buy everything. but a well – built Ifugao attired in the simple costume of the highlands. From his neck dangled the bronze necklace of an Ifugao warrior. ―If you are.‖ Sam choked on the words. their meaning.‖ ―We are friends. amid the poverty and the soot of many years. It was something elemental and distressing. Remember. ―I‘m not going back.. I even wanted to return it? Besides.‖ the voice quieted down. ―because you are always curious and determined. Phil. if you have to stay here for more weeks after the burial –― The words exploded from the hut with a viciousness that jolted Sam: ―Damn it. he started scraping again the block of wood which he . Sam Christie moved towards the ladder. ―Phil. his broad flanks uncovered. even gods. The god. I could forgive myself for having stolen it. he pushed aside the flimsy bamboo door. In the semi – darkness. with the sharp blade in his hands. my grandfather‘s god – isn‘t it enough payment for your kindness?‖ The words. even face Sam. Sam Christie saw Philip Latak squatting before the same earthen stove aglow with embers. and around his waist was the black – and – red breech cloth with yellow tassels. we still have many things to do.. We are friends.‖ the voice within the grass hut had become a wail. I‘m not coming!‖ It was no longer voice.. I could have gone on searching until I found one I could buy.‖ His face burning with bewilderment and shame. He seemed completely absorbed in his work and. Phil. But if it‘s against the custom – that is. ―I didn‘t want to steal it. ―You are not a friend. I killed him who loved me most. And in this glow Sam Christie saw his friend – not the Philip Latak with a suede jacket.―You can‘t mean what you say. Sam.. bit deep. I killed him because I wanted to be free from these. ―I didn‘t want you to steal the idol. these terraces. ―Come on.‖ a faltering and a stifled sob. you wouldn‘t have come here searching for gods to buy.
―Leave me alone. with waterly legs and trembling hands. he stepped down and let the door slide quietly back into place. . Sam. savagely. ―I have to finish this and it will take time. as if all grief had been squeezed from him.‖ Philip Latak said softly. He knew then that Philip Latak really had work to do and it would take some time before he could finish a new god to replace the old one.‖ Sam Christie‘s ever – observant eyes lingered on the face. Where he had seen it before? Was it Greece – or in Japan – or in Siam? The recognition came swiftly. the stolen idol which he was bringing home to America to take its place among his souvenirs of benighted and faraway places.held tightly between his knees.
" Antonio. He is using many different colors and for each mat the dominant color is that of our respective birthstones. I know you will be. Mr. I am sure that the children will be very pleased. of the others. and had not since been used except on special occasions. I shall be home to join you at dinner. José. the third child. mats continued to be the chief topic of conversation among the children. Finally. Angeles'. In the evening when all the children were home from school she asked her oldest son. say." The letter was read aloud during the noon meal. Mr. I have the mats with me. He had written from Mariveles: "I have just met a marvelous matweaver--a real artist-and I shall have a surprise for you. But his homecoming--from a trip to the South--was fated to be more memorable than." Nana Emilia read the letter that morning. They had such a mat in the house. "They have our names woven into them. This mat had been given to Nana Emilia by her mother when she and Mr." The children knew what they were talking about: they knew just what a decorative mat was like." "Oh. This she wrote her husband when she labored over a reply to him. and in our ascribed colors. I can hardly wait to show them to you. It had green leaf . a mat older than any one of them. Angeles wrote again: "I am taking the Bicol Express tomorrow. it was not anything new or strange in their experience. but these mats are different. and talked about them until late into the night. said. one they seldom used. It had served on the wedding night. homecoming from his periodic inspection trips was always an occasion for celebration. the fifth child. "I like the smell of new mats. I asked him to weave a sleeping-mat for every one of the family.The Mats By Francisco Arcellana For the Angeles family." interposed Susanna. God willing. "I like the feel of mats. too. and they are beautiful. Angeles were married. from Lopez. Talk about the mats flared up again like wildfire. The children became very much excited about the mats. For days after that. That was why they were so excited about the matter. and it had been with them ever since. not really meant to be ordinarily used. It was a very beautiful mat. and again and again every time she had a chance to leave the kitchen. to read the letter at dinner table.
sandia. avocado. as always (his itinerary carried him through the fruitgrowing provinces): pineapples. There was a lot of fruits. Putting away the dishes and wiping the dishes and wiping the table clean did not at all seem tedious. At first there had been only Nana Emilia to see the mat spread. and when it was taken out and spread on the floor the children were always around to watch. Nana Emilia always kept that mat in her trunk.. was as usual accomplished with animation and lively talk. running the whole length of the mat. Angeles rose from his seat at the head of . Angeles was full of stories about his trip but would interrupt his tales with: "I could not sleep nights thinking of the young ones. Mr. lanzones. not a few had slept on it more than once. The smell was always the smell of a new mat. Mr. Dinner was a long affair. Illness. chicos. and a lot of gigantic red roses woven into it. Yet Nana and the children. was the lettering: Emilia y Jaime Recuerdo The letters were in gold.borders. atis." The stories petered out and dinner was over. The number of watchers increased as more children came. The folds and creases always new and fresh. The mat did not seem to age. guyabano. And you older ones should not stay out too late at night.. He had brought the usual things home with him. although they did not show it. according to the season. sampling them. There had been deaths. the mat was brought out and the patient slept on it. santol. Finally. had it all to himself. had not been infrequent. In the evening Mr. In the middle. The children's pleasure at the golden letters even before they could work out the meaning was boundless. He had also brought home a jar of preserved sweets from Lopez. Somehow they were always pleasantly shocked by the sight of the mat: so delicate and so consummate the artistry of its weave. When any one of the family was taken ill. It seemed to Nana Emilia always as new as when it had been laid on the nuptial bed. after a long time over his cigar. They should never be allowed to play in the streets. were all on edge about the mats. Most of the time the mat was kept in Nana Emilia's trunk. Watching the intricate design was an endless joy. The process had become associated with illness in the family. Angeles was with his family. Every one of the children had some time in their lives slept on it. Now. Putting away the fruit. taking out that mat to spread had become a kind of ritual. To the children it seemed as new as the first time it was spread before them. Then a child--a girl--watched with them. even serious illness.
though a little self-conscious. He dropped the bundle and. The letters of the name Jaime were in purple. Angeles of the next mat in the bundle. Nana Emilia unfolded the mat without a word. bending over and balancing himself on his toes. Alfonso. his youngest boy. From the heap he disengaged a ponderous bundle. "And this. Nana Emilia and her eldest girl who had long returned from the kitchen were watching the proceedings quietly. Flowers--cadena-de-amor--were woven in and out among the letters. It was a beautiful mat: to her mind. It was strong. "And this. snip! and the bundle was loose. was to one side of him with the scissors ready. even more beautiful than the one she received from her mother on her wedding. She had always thought her name too long. Miling." said Mr. and she could not say any more. His fingers were clumsy. Miling. The children stood about the spreading mat. Angeles joyfully cried: "These are the mats. The border was a long winding twig of cadena-de-amor. The letters were large. The mat was rather simply decorated. is my own. the design almost austere. it would not break. I know. He tried working at the knots. One swift movement with the scissors. to ask for the scissors." Marcelina was the oldest child. The air was punctuated by their breathless exclamations of delight. he strained at the cord that bound it. for your. I believe. There was a name in the very center of it: EMILIA. "This." Nana Emilia stepped forward to the light. laughter. it would not give way. and with a strange young shyness received the mat. breathing heavily. Jaime. Mr. Turning to Nana Emilia. He raised his head. The children watched the spectacle silently and then broke into delighted. done in green. wiping her still moist hands against the folds of her skirt. they had begun shaking. Angeles picked up the topmost mat in the bundle. is yours. and the only colors used were purple and gold. "It is beautiful. Marcelina. it had been . he walked to the middle of the room where the light was brightest. it is beautiful!" Nana Emilia's voice broke." Mr.the table and crossed the room to the corner where his luggage had been piled. Taking it under one arm.
"There are three more mats to unfold. "And this is for you. even if the letters were a little small.one of her worries with regard to the mat. "This is yours. Jesus. superseding the deep and quiet delight that had been briefly there." Nana Emilia caught her breath. On each of the children's mats there was somehow an appropriate device." Nana Emilia said. her face . "You are not to use this mat until the year of your internship. wondering." José was the second child.. Juan. A puzzled." Then Nana Emilia noticed bewilderingly that there were some more mats remaining to be unfolded. Antonia. finely done in three colors. "How on earth are they going to weave all of the letters of my name into my mat?" she had asked of almost everyone in the family. It was in the form of a lyre. Marcelina was a student of music and was quite a proficient pianist. At least all the children had been shown their individual mats. there was a device above her name which pleased Marcelina very much. Angeles was saying." Mat after mat was unfolded. Besides." Only Mr. "But Jaime." Mr. as if he had been jerked away from a pleasant fantasy. with evident repudiation." "And this is yours. Emilia. and through it all Mr. He suddenly stopped talking.." "And this is yours. Angeles. José. Now it delighted her to see her whole name spelled out on the mat. The air was filled with their excited talk. Angeles was saying over and over again in his deep voice: "You are not to use these mats until you go to the University. "there are some more mats. and when he spoke his voice was different." said Mr. reminiscent look came into his eyes. "Yes. Over his name the symbol of Aesculapius was woven into the mat. He was a medical student already in the third year of medical school. Angeles seemed to have heard Nana Emilia's words. there was a swift constriction in her throat. The others who aren't here.
His voice had risen shrill. the letters spelling the name. emptiness. Jaime. Also. There was a silence as Mr. Angeles demanded rather than asked. The mat was almost as austere in design as Mr. almost hysterical. please don't. But they could neither move nor look away. Angeles held his tears back. Josefina! "And this is for you. They wanted to turn away and not see the face of their father. Victoria! "And this is for you. Then Nana Emilia found her voice. her voice hurt and surely frightened. he had spoken as if from a deep. seemed strange to them. grudgingly-silent. you didn't have to. But somehow the name.paled and she could not say anything. Angeles had spoken almost as if he were a stranger. . it was also stern and sad. Angeles picked up the first of the remaining mats and began slowly unfolding it. Concepcion. long-bewildered sorrow." was all that Nana Emilia managed to say. There was no symbol or device above the name. The self-centered talk of the children also died." Nana Emilia said. and it had a name. Jaime. They seemed rooted to the spot. his eyes held them. Angeles' own. The children heard the words exploding in the silence. there was something swift and savage in the movement. his voice held them where they were. and somehow vindictive. Mr. The children knew the name. "Is it fair to forget them? Would it be just to disregard them?" Mr. only a blank space. "Do you think I'd forgotten? Do you think I had forgotten them? Do you think I could forget them? "This is for you. Angeles called the names rather than uttered them." Mr. "Don't. Mr. "You know.
Nana Emilia shivered once or twice. . The remaining mats were unfolded in silence. There was a terrible hush. did not seem to glow or shine with a festive sheen as did the other living names. the separate letters. seemed strange and stranger still. the colors not bright but deathly dull. bowed her head. spelling out the names of the dead among them. gripped her clasped hands between her thighs. The names which were with infinite slowness revealed.
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