Overblog Follow this blog
Administration Create my blog
January 29 2012 1 29 /01 /January /2012 05:04

 

 

 

 

                 A Song Of the Sea

 

                                       by Antonio Enriquez

 

 

The city man and his three companions are fishing very early that morning off the west coast of Labuan, a fishing village in Zamboanga City, island of Mindanao. With him as fishing-guide is Old Tacio, who knows all the best fishing grounds in the Sulu Sea, and a boy-helper who baits the fish and unrolls the tangled nylon lines. Suddenly Mr. Castro jumps up on his feet as the tánsi fishing line sizzles in his soft hands, with a huge fish struggling and streaking the water with its great fin just behind the bamboo outrigger. Then they see its ash-colored body about half a meter under the surface of the sea like an ominous shadow.

“Help! Help!” cries Mr. Castro to his companions. “Big...very big fish.” He is nearly jostled overboard as three men rush to him and grab the line to pull in the great shark. Only they do not know it is a shark until, with the hook hurting its mouth (for now four, not one man, are pulling in the tánsi line), the shark lifts himself out of the water and explodes like a bomb. Then the old man shouts at the boy to pull up the iron anchor hanging halfway in the water, so that the tánsi line will not get entangled round the anchor’s rope. And then the great shark comes alongside the outrigger, they see that it is as big as the motorboat, its fin alone is over two feet over the water surface. For a few minutes they all stand in the boat  and are dumb and speechless watching the monster not seven meters away behind the bamboo outrigger, they can see it all, just behind the parallel outrigger bamboo tube: ash-backed, small-mouthed, and pig-eyed the great shark is. But before the boy-helper has completely pulled up the iron anchor, the great shark suddenly wheels and plunges under the motorboat, and everyone on the canoe fears the great shark will leap up and turn their motorboat upside down and with everyone overboard; then what horror as the shark feeds on them. The line again sizzles hot in their hands and then goes slack—and the shark is gone, it vanishes apparition-like in the depths of the dark sea.

Although old Tacio and the city man are so disappointed, they go on fishing since there is yet more than five or six hours of good fishing. In fact, they catch two game fishes, a ray fish and a sword fish before they decide to call it quits and return to shore.

The old man Tacio begins to sing as he steers the fishing motorboat toward shore. A soft westerly wind is blowing behind it.

“What  is the old one singing, boy?” says the man from the city.

The boy says, “About good fishing.”

 Then the man says, “Do the fishermen in your village always sing whenever they come home from fishing?

“No-no,” says the boy-helper. “They sing only when the fishing is good to thank the gods for their protection in the unpredictable sea, or when they plead for good fishing.

The boy-helper and the city man are both watching the old man Tacio squatting on the bow of the motorboat. He is singing of the good fishing they had that day and the past three days. On the stern in front of the boy-helper, three other men sit, and the wind from the speeding boat blows the hot, black motor smoke into their faces.

As they come into the bay, the sun behind them is round and red just like an egg yolk. The old man stops singing and the boy cuts off the motor. Languidly the boat slides in to the shore. The old man gets up on his feet, rising automatically, and jumps waist-deep in the water pulling the boat’s line in one hand. Wading toward the shore, the water now up to his thighs, he with other fishermen on the shore pulls the boat in by the rope, and, turning around serpent-like, they hold the boat firmly in place, as the boy-helper and the city men jump on to the shore.

Now the three men unload the fishes on the beach, and the bountiful catch lies lumpily, sand-powdered, gape-mouthed and goggle-eyed on the sand. There is a pair of ray fish and a ninety-pound sailfish whose eyes are filmy and dull in their sockets. 

Some naked children bathing in the bay now come running to look at the fishes. The mops of hair on their heads are bronzed by the sun and their naked bodies are wet and scaly like the fishes caught in the sea by the city men.

Meanwhile, the sun scorches the sea with its rays and taints the horizon red and yellow with its last fury.

The old man says, “It was very good fishing, Mr. Castro.”

“Yes, we were very lucky,” says Castro. And then to the three men he says:

“Better take them fish to the jeep.”

“All right,” they reply.

So, the three men, with the boy helping, carry the fishes to the jeep parked in the vacant lot beside Belo’s barbershop in the market place. Two of the men go back down to the shoreline and grab the sailfish by its tail and head, and carrying it between them climb up the beach to the vacant lot. They lift the sailfish up and plop it into the back of the jeep. When the two men come back, the boy leaves the vacant lot and walks down toward the motorboat to bail out the seawater on boat's bottom.

The old man and Castro are walking barefoot up the beach. The latter swears at the hot coral rocks and the sharp pebbles cutting the soles of his feet, and  limps along the shoreline. A row of vintas covered with dry coconut fronds like preserved carcasses outlines the front of the village. Their empty hulls are raised half a foot from the sand on slabs of wood that have been eaten and pitted by brine. Both men, the old fisherman and Mr. Castro, halt before the fishing canoes, which are called vintas by the local folk.

The old man says, “I think you will come back soon, Mr. Castro. Your fingers will be really itching for more fishing, again,” “Ah-ah,” Castro says. “Yes, my fingers will itch for some fishing,” “Too bad about the tiburón,” says the old man Tacio. “It is the biggest my old eyes has ever  seen ... ”And in the old man’s mind he sees the shark again, leaping white-bellied alongside their bamboo-outrigger, too dangerously close. Then Tacio, his patched short trousers and hair-whorled legs dripping with water, says, “If the tánsi line had not … ” But his voice is not sad, since the lost shark is not everything of the good fishing they had those four days in Labuan. Looking up and slapping at his wet trousers with both hands, he grins happily at the city man whose tanned and sun-burnt face is as red as the devil’s.

“Grandfather, how much do you think we could have sold the shark for?” asks Castro. The soles of his feet no longer hurts on the fine, warm sand up on the beach — not so hot on the shoreline as before.

“Maybe, in the market here it would have sold for fifty pesos,” the old man says. “In the city it would get double the price. The Chinese, for its fin alone, would pay as much as forty pesos. It’s a delicacy to them.”

The old man Tacio was terribly happy. He was happy even with the loss of the great tiburón that had run off with more than two hundred yards of the tánsi fishing line he had borrowed, and, of course, with his own wire leader and home-made hooks and lead sinkers.

He says, “I think we were too excited. We could have speared the shark the moment it came alongside our boat. But in the excitement we all forgot the salapang .... Anyway, you caught the second sailfish. That alone is already a priceless catch.”

In the vacant lot one of the three city men leans forward through the door of the jeep and clamps his palm over the horn. Suddenly, the quiet late-afternoon splits and its mantle of last daylight tears in half, as the jeep’s horn goes beep, beep, beep. Two of the city men climb in and sit on the back seat,  while the other continues to clamp his palm over the horn.

Castro says, “We are leaving now, grandfather.” He reaches behind and pulls out a leather wallet from his hip pocket wrapped in a plastic bag to keep it dry during the four days of fishing. The city man draws out some bills, which are new and crisp, and counts them slowly before handing the money to old Tacio. Says Castro, “That is fifty pesos. You may count it yourself”reminding Tacio he had given him thirty pesos as advance payment last Thursday. “Do you remember?”

The fisherman-guide Tacio did not even look at the money, although he was holding it in his dirty calloused hand. Instead, he looked up at Castro’s peeling nose, his tanned cheeks, his sun-burnt forehead and his red puffy face. It was splotched and mottled from the sun and four days of fishing off Labuan Bay.

 “Si, I remember…. ” says the old man. “But this money isn’t enough.”

“ No?” says Castro.

Old Tacio shifts his feet on the sand, saying, “No! It doesn’t pay for everything.”

“How much then?” Castro asks.

“One hundred and fifty pesos more would settle everything,” says Tacio.

 “What!” says Castro. “You must be kidding.”

Beads of perspiration roll down Castro’s tanned, pudgy face and from the corner of his slit eyes. They streak down the creases of his sun burnt neck and across the folds of flesh shiny with their own fat.

“We do not make jokes concerning money, Mr. Castro.”

 “But our contract was for eighty pesos only.... ” says the city man.

“Let me explain first, Mr. Castro,” says old man Tacio. “It is true our contract was eighty pesos for four fishing days. But what I am asking now is for the fishing line you yesterday lost with that tiburón.”

“You mean that tánsi line costs a hundred and fifty pesos?” Castro says.

Tacio is still looking up at the city man with that same grinning expression in his face, saying, “Yes; my mestizo Chino friend told me he bought the tánsi line not long ago. I am not even charging you any more for the hooks, the wire-leader, and sinkers also lost.”

In the vacant lot beside the market the jeep’s horn again goes beep, beep, beep. Says Castro, “All right, grandfather ... You wait here. I will get the rest of the money from my companions.” Castro walks off toward the jeep parked beside Belo’s barbershop, and the old man turns and leans back against the bow of one of the vintas along the beach. Just then the boy-helper comes up the beach from securing the motorboat to its mooring and sits by him and then he and the boy watch the city man walking rapidly across the vacant lot toward the jeep.

The city man Castro slides into the driver’s seat and switches the motor on, throwing the gear into first and the jeep springs forward down the dirt road like a bug. Tacio, realizing Mr. Castro is driving away without paying him, runs quick as a deer down the beach after the fast-going jeep and instantly was covered with smoke and dust-cloud from the motor car’s exhaust. His nose smarts from the sharp tang of burnt rubber and gas. When the dust-cloud disappears, he stands alone in the middle of the road, and the jeep turns the bend speeding toward the city and vanishes behind the grove of coconut trees.

The fleetest deer could not have caught up with that fast jeep and the fleeing city man, old Tacio says to himself.

Belo the barber steps out of his barbershop, and the women in the stores along the beach come out and stand in the door ways while the men in the vacant lot edge closer to the dirt road. Holding an open razor in one hand, Belo approaches the old Tacio who has come up the road.

“What happened, Tacio?” the barber asks.

“They cheated me,” Tacio says and flings his buri hat on the ground. He stamps down on it with both feet, as if it were his hat’s fault that Mr. Castro ran off without paying him in full.

“What happened?” the barber asks, again.

“He made a fool of me, demonio!” he says and jerks his head up. “Cabron! Cuckold!” 

Old Tacio and Belo the Barber gaze down the road for a minute, and then Tacio bends forward picking up his trampled buri hat and slaps off the dust on his thigh-trousers and walks down the beach.

Belo walks alongside the old man a little way, the former stepping in cadence, and, without a word, spins abruptly around and walks back to his barbershop leaving the old man alone.

Tacio  goes on, and the boy-helper upon seeing  the old man  comes up  and  walks  beside him. Slowly and heavily, they walk together until they come to a store the biggest in the fishing village.

On the steps of the store sit two half-naked children wearing only camisetas or Chinese T-shirts. Their sleeves are soiled and damp with mucous. Behind the counter lined with glass jars filled with candies, biscuits, threads, buttons, and fishing hooks a woman sits on a stool, and under her printed dress the woman’s belly's taut brown skin swells pressing against the cloth.

 “Buenas tardes, missis,” says old man Tacio. “Is your husband Julian… ” He does not wait for a reply and walks toward the room in the back of the store. Up along the walls hang fish hooks with wire or nylon leaders and two-coiled fishing lines, and in one corner a fishing net trails down from a nail onto the floor.

A middle-aged Chinese mestizo sits mending a fishing net at the head of a long wooden table, looking up when the old man comes into the room. His hands with woman-like fingers do not cease pulling a long cord.

“Hoy, friend Tacio,” says the Chinese mestizo. “And how was the fishing?”

Old Tacio with the fifty pesos in one hand, replies, “Very good. O, here is the money, Julian. But it’s only fifty pesos—” standing before the table and hearing his own strange voice.

“What? Only fifty pesos?” says the Chinese mestizo Julian.

O, o,” says Tacio. “I am indeed ashamed that this is the only money I can give you now. But something happened ... “ And he tells Julian what happened down at the beach. The merchant Julian cannot believe what he is hearing. Had he not provided the fishing guide Tacio with the gasoline and oil for the four fishing days and even loaned him his new tánsi line? When they lost it the second day, Tacio promised to get the money from Mr. Castro on Sunday or the last day of fishing. But now here he is with only fifty pesos ... just enough to pay for the gasoline and oil.

“I will pay you all of my debts,” says Tacio. In his effort to hold back his shame, he squints and his dull eyes flit toward the merchant's woman-like fingers. “Little by little I will pay you back …. It might even be sooner than you yourself will believe possible,” he stops. “Trust me.”

“Of course, I trust you,” says Julian. “But I need the money on Saturday.”

“I still have my small boat, Julian,” says old Tacio. He does not look at Julian but instead smiles hard with the corners of his thick mouth barely rising. “Maybe you have forgotten …. ”

“I have not forgotten, friend,” says the Chinese mestizo. Both hands lie still before him on the table for he has ceased mending the net. “But can you pay me on Saturday even half of it? No? I thought so .... ”

“No-no,” cries Old Tacio, “I mean yes, I will pay you.”

The Chinese mestizo merchant does not say anything for a while, and then continues: “You know, friend Tacio, I was depending very much on this money which I expected from you. I planned this week to buy new stocks in the city for my store, which you can see is very much empty!”

“Yes, I know ... ” says old Tacio looking at the other and with great effort raises his eyes from the woman-like slender fingers to the merchant’s face. Again he squints, and still slightly squinting wearily says: “That’s why besides the regular ferry and charter trips I do now and then, I am going dynamite fishing with Lungi tomorrow.”

Julian says nothing and is silent for a while.

Then the merchant says, “Surely, you don’t mean yourself!”

“Uagh …,” says Tacio. “I myself will go.”

So the other says, “Yourself, really, my friend Tacio?”

Julian leans over the table and quietly gathers the fishing net and pushes it away to one corner. “You are too old for it,” he says. “Diving for dynamited fish is only for strong young people. You are an old man now. You do  not know that!”

Sharp words that hurts old Tacio but makes him more determined to go dynamiting for fish. He says: “Uagh, one is never too old for dynamiting fish.”

Says the Chinese mestizo, “Whom do you think you are fooling, hah? That devil Lungi is only interested in your motorboat to take his dynamited fish to market. He cares nothing for you but only for his fish. Ay, old Tacio, you will be dealing with the devil himself! You know that ... !”

Tacio thinks, He doesn’t believe I’m a good diver and can dive very deep.

Julian swears to himself, Fool! and right away ceases; he has been too rash and impetuous. “And you, friend Tacio,” he says aloud, “believe him ... the devil himself!”

However, when old man Tacio leaves the Chinese mestizo’s store he is carrying half a can of gasoline, and the boy who waited outside on the steps takes the gasoline can from him and carries it himself. Down the beach the two walk unhurriedly and up to the open shed in front of one of the two stores beside the market place.

There the boy says, “Old one, is you going dynamite-fishing tomorrow?”

“That’s right, ‘noy,” he says.

“I heard ‘Ñor Julian say you are too old for diving!”

Offended, Tacio says, “You ... shut your big mouth, hah!”

Both sit on a slope of beach and for some while watch the sunset in the bay. After a while he tells the boy to bring the gasoline to the house, and to tell Lungi he will go dynamite-fishing with him mañana.

Old Tacio goes into a tuba-an, a coconut wine store, just behind the shed. Store owner Pacita herself brings out a glass and the bottle of tuba she reserves for old Tacio every afternoon when he comes back from fishing. She pours the tuba and leaves the bottle on the table in front of the old man. Through the night he drinks out of his reserved tuba bottle and a couple more until he retches outside against wall of the tuba-store. Stepping into the dark, his stomach sour and with wobbly legs, he starts walking toward home; the boy comes to his side, who has returned from seeing Lungi, and holds up his arm to keep the old man from veering off the path.

When they reach the hut, Tacio climbs the bamboo steps alone with the least of noise so he does not wake up his young wife, whom he took from the native Subanon tribe as his second wife.

He suddenly feels hollow and empty inside. Drinking has not killed his shame … only makes it worse. The old man Tacio skips his supper and goes to sleep on the bamboo-split floor next to the bed he shares with his woman. But he cannot sleep, thinking of the dynamite-fishing in the morning.

A little before daybreak before anyone is awake, old Tacio gets up and after drinking his coffee wraps some boiled rice and a piece of dried fish in a banana leaf for his lunch. Going down the steps Tacio makes less noise than he had last night and goes rapidly up the path toward the beach. He carries the half can of gasoline himself since he does not  need the boy-helper this trip—unlike the four days fishing with the city man Mr. Castro. At the end of the path that merges with the dirt road, he sees that many of the vintas are still up on the beach, but his motorboat is already in the water. On its bow stands barefooted the dynamite-fisherman Lungi and some other dynamite-fishermen and fish divers; Tacio approaching them suspects they are  laughing at him for going dynamite-fishing at his old age. I could be mistaken, he thinks. But if so how is it they have  not stopped sneering?

 The drab morning clouds are low and so densely hovering over the village that surely he can touch them if he will only reach out with his hand. Ay, it is perfect weather just as perfect as the day before when he and Mr. Castro and the other city men had gone fishing off the bay.

In a while the village dynamite fishermen and the fish divers stop chuckling and lift their fishing canoes from the wooden boards and carry them, one on each side, down the shore into the water. Before their canoes are a few feet from the shoreline, the fishermen and the fish divers jump into the canoes and kick the water behind them to keep the canoes from floating back to the beach in the returning tide.

Later, when the morning sun is beginning to rise over the shimmering horizon and the clouds high in the sky, Tacio sitting on the stern of his motorboat lifts his head back and sings aloud for a generous catch. His voice is plaintive and full: laden with hope and passion. Quietly the young divers listen to him and quiet their mocking voices and under their breath hum with old Tacio’s plaintive song,  thinking with the old man of the home-made bombs that will soon explode and kill the fishes and of the many trips they must make to retrieve the bruised and dead fishes in the depths of the dark Sulu sea. And they also sing mournfully for their fisherman companions, who had lost a limb or an arm when the home-made dynamites prematurely exploded in their hands or on the bottom of their canoes.

 

                                 End

gaff

coconut wine

Repost 0
Published by Antonio Enriquez - in short stories
write a comment
May 23 2011 2 23 /05 /May /2011 09:53

Son

Copyright © 2010 by Antonio Enriquez

Digital Philippines

From paper book- Dance a  White Horse to Sleep and Other Stories, Asia-Pacific Series, UQP, Queensland, Australia, 1977

 

 

Son

                                     by Antonio Fermin Enriquez

 

“Papa will surely get angry when he sees this fallen fence,” he said as he came from the house to meet his girl. “And he fixed it only this morning.”

“Why did it fall down?” she said.

“It is because of the carabao of ’Ñor Piloy. I does not know why he cannot keep his carabao tied good and strong.”

Tito pressed down the rusty barbed wire with his feet and Thelma, carrying the food basket, held up the hem of her skirt between her brown legs and went through the fence. “Be careful with your dress,” he said. “It may get tangled on the barbs.”

She waited for him on the other side.

“Is that why your father was so angry with ‘Ñor Piloy the other day?”

Si,” he said. “His carabao ate up most of Papa’s coconut seedlings.”

He straightened the bamboo post and dug in some stones around it. She stood behind him and watched him work.

Tito and Thelma had come to the beach to fish and eat under the shade of the trees. Tito brought along fishing lines, one for himself and the other for her. He carried the lines himself because he remembered how Thelma had pierced herself once with the hook while carrying her line and how he had to pass the hook all the way through her forefinger and how he had to cut off its head before pulling it out.

They pulled off their slippers and walked barefoot on the sandy bank, going toward the trees where they would leave the food. There were dry leaves in the shade under the trees and they crackled under their feet.

“Just leave the food there,” Tito told her, putting down the pail of shrimps. ”O, o. Just there.”

“Them dog might eat it,” she said.

He said, “We can watch the food from the shore while we is fishing.”

Tito uncoiled the lines from their bamboo reels and made sure that there was no break in the cords. Then he attached a small weight to each line. He picked up the pail, and together they went on down the beach with their bare feet cold on the sand.

“I hope to catch a big one,” she said, smiling at him and digging her toes into the sand.

“You will get a big one,” he told her. He handed her one of the lines and some shrimps in a banana leaf.

“I thinks I will fish over at the bocana,” she said. “There at the mouth of the river.”

O, o,” said Tito in Chabacano. “There is plenty of taraquito there.” 

She started off toward the inlet, Tito watching her from where he stood. Then he reached down into the pail, his hand chasing the shrimps. He caught one and hooked it through the tail so that it wouldn’t come off while in the water. And then he threw the line way out, throwing it like a lasso.  It hit, weights splashing, and sank quickly.

Tito stood in the afternoon sun holding the line in one hand, waiting for that sudden jerk at the line. But the fish were not striking, not even eating his bait; so he rolled up his pants and moved knee-deep in the water, changed the bait with a live shrimp and made that asthmatic sound by pressing the line hard between his thumb and forefinger and pulling at it suddenly against the other hand holding the bamboo reel. This was supposed to attract the fish. Still, the fish did not strike and he turned and watched her sitting on the bank of the bocana.

“Did you catch any yet?” she shouted from the inlet.

“Not yet,” Tito shouted back.

“There is no fish here either,” she said.

“There is plenty there,” said Tito. “There is always taraquito when the tide rises.”

“I does not seem to catch any,” she said.

Tito drew in his line, coiling it around the bamboo reel. He walked up along the seashore toward her. He stopped and gave her his line and took hers. He said, “Perhaps the bait is gone.”

“I did not feel any fish biting my bait,” she said.

“You has to jerk it at once when the taraquito strikes,” he told her. “Or else it will get away.” He watched the hook as it broke the surface, skimming the top of the waves. “You put the bait on the wrong way,” Tito said, breaking off the head of the shrimp and throwing it back into the sea.

“No, she said. “I did it right.”

“Then why is the head left instead of the tail?” he said.

“I does not know,” Thelma said.

“You must hook the shrimp through the tail,” said Tito. “Then it will not come off so easily.”

“I put on the bait correctly,” she insisted.

“No, you did not.” He knew he was being contentious, unfair. But he went on: “You hooked it through the head,” he said. “You did not add any weight when the current became strong. How can you catch any fish with that kind of line?”

Thelma did not answer. She was suddenly angry. And she had been very happy a short while ago. But he had spoiled it all.

They went on fishing, together, without talking. A wind came down and made little, fast-moving waves that raced interminably to the shore. Tito and Thelma both knew it was useless now to fish, even if they put on more weights. So, still without talking, they went up the white-pebbled shore toward the shade of the trees, Tito carrying the pail of shrimps and the fishing lines and walking ahead—and she following behind. They sat under the tree where they left their food-basket.

She set the food on the banana leaves and cradled the bottle of water in the sand. Then they ate without talking. The wind came in strong from the sea, ruffling the surface of the sand.

“What is the matter?” said Thelma.

Nada,” he said. “Nothing.”

“Something is the matter,” she said. “Why does you not tell me? Like you always does.”

Nuay nada ba,” said Tito. “Nothing-nothing.”

“Is it about your mother?”

“It is not about anything.”  Tito did  not want to think about his mother. Somehow, it always upset him and usually spoiled the day for him.

“You seems so upset,” she said. “You always gets this way when you has had a scene with her.”

He said, “No; we never quarrel.”

“I knows she loves you,” she told him. “But her kind of love has made you bitter. It suffocates you.”

Tito did not say anything.

“Is not love beautiful anymore?” she asked.

He could not look at her. The wind was blowing gently on his back now and ruffling the dry leaves—shrieking up the shoreline. He felt her probing him with her eyes, but he could not look at her.

Si; it is not beautiful any more.”

They sat there quietly for a while.

“I cannot love anybody,” he said. “Not even you. I mean, I tried ... but it is like—“

She knew he was trying to say something which often came hard when he was moody and crabby; then he would stop even before he had finished. The ants were crawling over the food. She started counting them in her mind.

“It is better this way,” he was saying. “I cannot really love anyone, really love anyone—freely.”

They sat across each other. Then she said:

“I thinks we would better go.”

Tito helped her put the leftovers and the bottle of water back in the basket and handed it to her. He picked up the pail of shrimps and, without looking at her, said: “I is sorry, Thelma. But I cannot help it.”

But already she was running down the shore, the food basket swinging in her hand. She ran toward the point, running quick-legged without looking back.

Alone, Tito stood there watching the sun now low over the horizon. After a while, he walked down the footpath which cut through the woods. He followed the path around the schoolyard back of the house. He opened the back gate and went around the house. Then he climbed the steps.

He went through the kitchen and into the dining room. He saw his father come in from the bedroom.

His father said, “Has you just come in?”

“Yes, Papa,” he said.

His father said, his voice sad: “Your mother has been waiting for you. You goes in and see her now.”

Tito looked up from the table then. There was something in his father’s voice, although there was nothing in his eyes. So he went into the bedroom.

He smelled sickness there as soon as he entered the room. It came from the leaves soaked in oil, from a bottle on the altar. She used the oil to ease the pain in her chest.

“Mama …,” said Tito. “What is it?”

The light from the petrol lamp on the altar threw grotesque shadows over her face. She motioned to him with a thin hand, and he moved to her bedside. Her eyes were pale and her face ashen: the color from her cheeks was gone.

“Is you feeling very bad, Mama?” he said.

“Just  the usual chest pain, hijo,” his mother said.

“Does it hurt badly?” said Tito.

“I is used to it,” she said, her voice harsh but faint. With her fragile hand, she pated the side of her bed, saying, “Sit here beside me.”

Tito sat down on the edge of the bed.

“I  has been waiting for you,” she said.

“I was out with some friends,” he lied to her.

His mother was looking straight into his eyes, with her own eyes saying: “You is lying again, hijo. You has been seeing her, again.”

He read those words in her eyes. Still, he lied to her again, saying, “I has not seen her, Mama. Verdad!”

“I is glad,” she said. “You must not ever see her.”

Tito said nothing. Talking would only hurt his mother and he did not want to hurt her. How can you tell your mother to leave you alone? Because you’re a man now, no longer the little boy she used to spank. How can you tell her that when she is sick—very sickly?

Her voice came in harsh whisper, “Tito, does you love your mother?”

Still he said nothing. Then, he felt his hand become wet on her cheek.

She caressed his hand, pressing it against her own cheek. “I will always love you!” she said.

Tito gently drew his hand away. He felt, all of a sudden, drained out and tired. He stood up and went slowly out of the room. He walked up to the table where his father was sitting.

“How  is she?” his father asked.

“She is all right,” he said. “I think she would like some hot soup.”

“You must not worry her too much, hijo,” said his father. “She is a very sick woman. Your mother es bien enfermosa …” His father walked away to the bedroom, carrying the hot soup in a bowl. Tito looked up from the table, out through the window, and across the river to the forested mountain. He watched the peaks beginning to sharpen against the sky, the slopes forming deep clefts as the evening shadows deepened. The humps of the mountain looked like a woman’s breasts, and, looking at them, Tito felt hollow and empty inside.

     

                                                       End 

 

pompano

Repost 0
Published by Antonio Enriquez - in short stories
write a comment
May 23 2011 2 23 /05 /May /2011 09:15

Antonio Fermin Enriquez

 

                                                  Beyond

 

A boy came down the dirt trail dragging one foot behind the other, like one in a trance. As he walked step after step, his feet scuffed the dust behind him in a puff of cloud. His head was bent over his chest, and he raised it every time he lifted his feet forward and dragged them one behind the other. Now when he looked up he saw the sun hanging like a red ball over the horizon. And below the horizon was a small village with flat sun-scorched savannas flanking each side and a dark highway cutting through it.

I says, “We can rest here. Stop a while, old one.”

“No” the old man says.

I says, “I is very tired.”

The old man says, “Just a few more steps, Manolo. And we will be on the highway.”

The boy was really alone. No one was with him although he seemed to talk to an old man. But in his mind the old man was with him and speaking to him as if he were there in his make-believe world. He had been with him for two nights and a day. The old man who was really dead now, had started the journey with the boy to the city. Now he lay way back behind, beside the trail with only a stone marking his grave. The boy had buried him there and continued with his journey.

 I says,Does you think we can get a drink of water there?”

The old man says, “We will ask the first house we come to.”

I says, “I wish I had the water now …  And some food.”

  He seemed to hear the old man in his mind. Now he tried to swallow his saliva to wet his throat, but even the back of his mouth was too dry. Something gnawed at his empty stomach. He could not go on. He bit his under lip till it hurt and ran the tip of his tongue along the hard parched skin of his mouth. 

We will rest in the village, Manolo. It is not too far now,” says the old man. “Look, you can see the houses.”

The boy took a step and then another, dragging his feet one behind the other. He kept his under lip clamped between his teeth so he could go on. The sun was now a quarter of the way down the horizon and the red rays sunk deep in the small village beside the highway. The boy turned round the bend, lifting his eyes at every step he made, and as he came at the end of the curve, the trail abruptly vanished and became the highway.

Meanwhile, the sun had completely sunk in the horizon; and after a while the lights in the village came on. Along the highway, the trucks and cars came rolling by with only their dim lights on, for there was yet enough daylight to drive on. A hundred yards off was a gasoline station.

The boy looked toward one and then the other end of the highway. Then he crossed the road and walked up along the side of it. There were some pies de gallo grass beside the ditch, and his feet hurt on the sharp, crushed rocks lying along the highway. He turned right toward the gasoline station just as a car swerved past him and halted in front of the station. He went on until he stood under the glaring electric lamps.

A man in baggy pants and uniform khaki shirt, with a blue star insignia sewed over his breast pocket, came to the car and lifted it is hood. A hot cloud hissed through the radiator as he turned the metal cap. Then he came up around the carand stood beside  the driver’s door. He said, “When is you coming back, Mon?”  — wiping off the dust on the glass window with an old rag.

Said the man called Mon, “Oo, maybe Monday or Tuesday.”

“Regular?”

Mon said, “Same. Ah, thirty liters, Please check my tires.”

The driver dropped the car keys on the man’s open palm. The man in the baggy pants went over to the back of the car, already fingering the tank key in one hand, and pulling the gasoline rubber hose with the other. He bent over the mouth of the gasoline tank, tipped the hose into it, and filled the tank with gasoline. Standing under the electric lamps near the gasoline machine, the boy heard it click and whirr, and, turning round, he saw the liter numbers going round in a circle.

The man in the baggy pants lifted his head and looked at the boy. He noticed that the boy’s shirt was dirty and torn at the sleeves, and that standing there under the light his legs were caked with mud. The boy walked up past the driver toward the man and stopped before him. He looked up at the man’s face, his eyes peering out from inside their sockets. Said the man in the baggy pants, “What does you want, ‘noy?”

The boy said nothing.

“We does not want kids hanging around here. Better move away, ‘noy. Go on.

He said nothing.

He ran the tip of his tongue between the parched skin of his lips. He felt very thirsty. He blinked his eyes, for the electric arc light white and glaring before him, had pierced through them. On each end of the driveway, the pair of arc lamps were like two noon suns against the dark of the sky.

The man in the baggy pants looked suspiciously down at the boy. Then he went round the car, pushing the boy aside, and tapped the tires with his fist to check the air. As he walked over to the front of the car, the driver put a hand out through the window and placed some bills in his hand. He thrust the bills in his trousers pocket, and walked on toward a water faucet beside the gasoline station. He picked up a bucket of water, walked back to the car, poured some water into the radiator and shut the hood closed. He made a sign with his hand, and the car slid down the driveway and on to the highway.  

As the man in the baggy pants spun on his heels to set the bucket down by the faucet, he came face to face with the boy or rather he looked down and their eyes met, the boy’s eyes having that same quality of peering out from inside of their sockets. They were like a pair of burnt holes in a blanket, and the boy more like a scarecrow than anything else with his long arms and stilt legs. “What!” The man in the baggy pants said. “Oo, do not stand in the way, ‘noy.”

The boy said, “Sir, Could I please, sir —— ”

The man was suspicious of the boy. He craned his neck and looked past the boy on to a bunch of tires lying beside the station building. The boy, he thought, could be only a camouflage while the older boys were stealing  his tires and tools. So he said, “Go on. Do not stand in the way. Go on.”

The boy said, “Please, sir. Could I… please, sir—— ”

The sun-scorched hue on the boy’s face made his skin look like a leper’s. Suddenly, the peering quality in his eyes vanished and turned into a pair of dirty water pools. Then his lips began to move, to form words, the hard dry tongue slithering; and, somehow, the man seemed to hear the words, though not a word came through the boys parched lips. He said, “Is it only water you want, ‘noy?”

“Sir!” —That was all. As though the man would understand, knowing without him saying the words, but merely forming them in his parched lips that refused to talk or say anything.

The man looked down at the bucket in his hands as though to make sure there was still water in it. Then, he put up his face. “Here,” he said. “Alright. Here, then … ”

The boy’s long arms stretched out and grasped the bucket, nearly pulling it away from the man’s hand that was wound round the handle. The man stood back to watch the boy drink from the brim of the bucket.

The boy felt the water lance through his lungs and rip through his stomach like a ball of lead. After a while, the hardness became soft and smooth. The man had seen the boy’s head disappear in the bucket, and now,  as it tilted back, he saw the boy, face wet and beady, the water dripping down his chin on to his chest. The boy returned the water bucket, looked at the man once, and then muttering something through his lips, he walked past him and down the driveway.

The man set the bucket down by the faucet and thrusting his fist into his trousers pocket marched up into the station. His wife who was entering an account on the journal book looked up at him. She was sitting behind the table. Her face had an unnatural pallor, and it iswas increased by the table lamp before her. But she had a pleasing face, the kind of face that had been pretty when she was young.  The wife said, “What is the matter, Pa?”

He said, “Nothing.” He pulled his fist out of his pocket and placed the paper bills into the cash box. He had his back to her.

She said, “What is really the matter?”

He said, “The boy’s eyes… they was so sad and his face so pitiful.”

 “What boy? Was you talking with a boy out there?” his wife said, her hand poised with the pencil in mid-air.

The man turned round and faced his wife. He was angry and cross about something and he wished he could grasp it in his bare hands and choke it to death. That was the way he knew how to kill it. The boy had made him angry. But why? he thought despairingly. All at one time, he felt pity and anger for the boy. And the anger, a part of it now, was his distrust and suspicion not only in the boy but in everything. He said, “Some boy … you know, the kind of boys who comes in here and runs off with some of our tools or a tire perhaps.”

His wife looking up curiously at him said, “What did he want?”

He said, “Just a drink of water.”

“Oo —— ” she looked down at the journal book and commenced to write something on it. Then she said, “Was that Mon in his car?"

The husband said, “Ugh-huh.”

After a while she tilted her face back and said, “I was thinking , Pa, maybe we could take off on a week’s vacation. Visit Mama at the farm.”

He said, “O, o. But no one will look after the station.”

The wife said, “Maybe we could get someone, Just for a week.”

The man said to her, almost angrily, “Whom can we trust? You cannot trust anybody nowadays.”

His wife said, “Well, I was just thinking, Pa.”

Meanwhile, the boy was walking along down the highway. The sharp crushed pebbles made his toes cringe, and he bit his under lip, till it nearly bled, to lessen the pain. From his chest down to his trunk, he felt fresh and fine, for the water had cleared his head and cooled his breast. He wished, though, his feet and legs would stop aching and not hurt him very much.

The boy walked off the highway and sat down beside the ditch. The grass was tall on the slope, and the dark came with a certain coolness as the settling of fog in the hills where he and the old man had lived comfortably alone in a small hut by the river bank. Behind him the trucks and the cars, now with their full lights on, sped up and down the highway. The whooshing the rumbling shook the night air, it rippled through the tall grass, and fiercely blew the dust and burnt motor fuel at him. Below the slope was a nipa-thatched house, with its door already closed, but a faint light came through a window crack. It was the first house he saw from the gasoline station, and there were no other houses nearby.

 Maybe we can get some food there,” I says. “You stay here, old one.” It is easy to bring the old man back in his mind. All he has to do is to say something that they both shared, and the old man would be with him. Because two days before, the old man was lying down at the side of the trail and feeling worst than ever since the beginning of their journey. The old man said, “You must go on without me, Manolo.”

The boys said, “No-no, I does not wish to go without you.”

The old man said, “Listen, Manolo, If you go on, I will be with you. But if you go back, then you shall be alone.”

 The old man seemed to see the beginning of the trail a long way away in back of his mind. He could see the small hut, where he and the boy lived alone together, the river beside it where he and the boy would fish, and the small room where they slept together; and here in the hills the boy had grown up till he was nine years old. Then one morning they both went down the hills following the trail to begin their journey to the city. The boy said, “My wish, is to be with you.”

“Do you believe me, Manolo?”

The boy began to cry quietly.

The old one said, “No-no, do not cry, you must trust me. Whatever I have told you shall come true. So stop it, and go now immediately.”

Said the boy, “Let me stay with you and take care of you, old one. Then we can begin the journey together.”

The old man said, “You must go now. Only when you go will I be with you.”

But the boy did not leave him, and when the old man died the next day, the boy buried him beside the trail and placed a stone to mark his grave. Then he went on down the trail, alone, but somehow he could bring the old man back by speaking of something that he knew they could share together. For the old man had told him so.

The boy, now, went down the slope and climbed the steps of the house. He knocked on the door and stood back. Then he heard movements in the back room and light steps coming up the sala to the door. A woman’s smallish face peered through the crack.  It was an old face, and her cheeks were hollow as if all her molar teeth had been pulled. She said, “What do you want, ‘noy?”

The boy said, “Do you have some food to spare, please?”

“No. Go away.” The door shut on his face.

Then it opened back a little, widening the crack. Her smallish face would be seen peering through the crack again, and she asked, “Are you all by yourself?”

The boy said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Said the woman, You is not lying to me, is you, ‘noy? I does not want to have strangers in when my husband is not here.” She craned her neck and look past the boy and into the dark outside. The boy looked over his shoulders as if he himself did not trust his own words. “Anyway, there is only left-over from tonights supper,” she said. “Just about enough to feed one little mouth.”

The boy said, “No, mum; not lying.  I is alone, alone by myself.”

“I has only half a fish and bananas. Those I has enough.”

He said, “It is alright, mum, I has had nothing to eat since yesterday.”

The woman widened the crack.

The boy slid through the crack and stepped into the house. The woman closed the door behind him and dropped the bar down in the groove. She was quite certain that no one had followed the boy into the house, yet she was still suspicious. Now she turned round, going to the kitchen, saying,  “Sit down there, ‘noy, by the table.”

He sat on a wooden stool, watching the door of the kitchen where the woman had gone off. He heard her moving round After  a while, the woman emerged through the door and set the plate of rice and dried fish and some boiled bananas in front of him on the table. There was a pitcher of water that was half-full, covered with a piece of clean, white cloth. A glass of water stood beside it.

The woman walked past the table and stood beside the door where she could watch the boy and at the window all at one time. The boy slipped a piece of dried fish into his pocket while the womans face was turned toward the window. He commenced to eat, hungrily chewing even the bones of the fish and choking on his bananas he put into his mouth. She watched him suspiciously, but twice the boy was able to slip a banana under his shirt. She said, “What is you doing, ‘noy, out alone by yourself?”  Her cheeks collapsed in her face like a punctured balloon when she spoke.

The boy chewing on the dried fish said, “I is just passing through, mum.”

“Passing through? Where is you going?”

“ — “To the city, mum.”

The woman said, “Does your parents know? Is they aware you is traveling alone?”

He said, “They does not know, mum. An old man took care of me.”

He went on eating, trying to chew rapidly as he could the food on his plate. He swallowed a large bite of boiled banana and a fistful of rice and nearly choked on them. The woman asked, after the boy had finished eating, “Where is the old man now?”

The word nearly slipped out from his mouth. He was about to tell her that the old one was outside waiting for him in his make-believe world. In his dream-world, in his make-believe, the old man was as real as the smallish face woman. Truly he is waiting for me outside, he thought. I have some food for him. “He is back at  the trail,” the boy said, without looking up from the table.

The woman walked away from the door and peered out the window. Then she walked over to the table and took the piece of white cloth off from the mouth of the pitcher. She poured him a glass of water and set the pitcher down on the table. The boy drank off the glass and wiped his mouth on his sleeves. He stood up and the woman went ahead of him to the door. She lifted  the bar off the groove, and the boy went out through the door.  She said, “If I were the old man, I would not have you tramping through the country by yourself. A boy like you could get in a lot of trouble.—Why did he ever let you go ahead all alone, hah?”

The boy said, “He has left me, mum.”

She asked, “Oo, is he waiting for you in the city? I thought you said he was back at the trail.”

The boy said nothing. He went down the steps, his bare feet swishing on the wooden slabs of the stairs. “Wait,” the woman said. “You, there —— ” she passed the door following the boy outside. “What kind of an old man is he to … Does he not care what happens to you along the way?” The boy went down the steps of the house and down onto the ground. “Hoy,” the woman said. “You, boy —— ” He went on, beginning to cross the small garden planted with cosmos flowers beside the house. “Now, you there,” she said. “Wait. Now, you wait.” The boy then stopped among the cosmos plants and looked back over his shoulder. “What did you say you were going to the city for?”

Said the boy, “My mother sent for me.”

The woman stood under the porch, and said, “Why did she send for you?”

Said the boy, “She sent for me, so I could go to school. She says I is old enough now. I is nine years old already, mum.”

She said, “And the old man?”  

The boy said nothing. He turned and started walking along the ditch which ran alongside the highway. The woman went into the house, barred the door, and brought the empty dishes to the kitchen sink. Then she cleaned the table and with a rag wiped off the rice grains that had fallen on the table. She swept them off with the rag to one corner of the table and caught the rice grains in her open palm; not noticing that almost all her boiled bananas were gone. She walked to the window. She leaned out and peeped sidewise into the dark, but the boy was not anywhere in sight.

The boy had crossed the ditch and was walking on the green slope of the highway. The tall grass reached to his waist. Now and then, the twin lights of a car would sweep the dark, and for a moment the boy would be suspended in the lights as though he had stopped walking and his feet had ceased moving. Then the car would speed on, and the dark would come in as suddenly as it had vanished.

 I do not like her, old one, I am thinking. I would not have eaten anything, if I was not so hungry.Then, “Let us rest here. It is too dark to go on now. Here, I brought you some food.” I draw a piece of fish out from my trousers pocket, and then put it right back in. It satisfied me very much that I had given the old 1some food. After walking a while in the dark, I sit down on the slope of the ditch. I stretch out my legs, sitting there straight-legged beside the highway without a thought in my head. Then I lie back on the grass, closed my eyes, and immediately fell asleep.

The boy first felt the sunlight filtering thro his eyelids. He batted his eyes, closed them, and sealed them with an arm across his eyes. But soon he tasted the heat of the sun on his lips, and he knew he would not be able to sleep again. So he sat up, took out the piece of fried fish from his pocket and the boiled bananas from under his shirt, put some bananas down on the grass beside him, and then commenced to eat.

When he had finished eating he looked round where he could get a drink of water. He did not wish to go back to the frightened, small fish-faced woman. Maybe, he thought, I can get a drink of water at the next house. Or at the next village.

“Let us walk already, Manolo,” I hears the old man say.

I says, “It is early yet, old one.”

He says, “We starts now while there is  yet no sun.”

I can hear the old man speak in my mind as though he was here and not lying at the side of the trail many kilometers away with a stone marking his grave.

He says, “Come on, hijo.”

I says, “How far is it yet, old one?”

He says, “Maybe  about a hundred kilometers more.”

The boy stood up from the green slope and climbed into the highway. About this time the sun was already a quarter of the way up beyond the hills. Now, standing on the highway with the sun behind him, he saw it is orange-red reflections along the highway and on the roof beams of the houses and on the flat country before him, with his shadow tall and flat ahead like the land on the travel catalogue.

He began to walk, dragging his feet one behind the other, and lifting his face at every step. After he had gone some hundred yards, his feet began to hurt, the toes cringing, and the crushed sharp rocks cutting his skin and opening up old sores. He limped, his back arched in a hump melting into a similar stance. He took a step and then another, his body from the waist up not moving except his head; and, somehow, the boy felt the old man beside him and their steps falling together and scuffing the dust in a puff of cloud.

Meanwhile, along the highway, huge trucks and cars came whooshing and rolling by.

                                                            End

 

Repost 0
Published by Antonio Enriquez - in short stories
write a comment
August 17 2010 3 17 /08 /August /2010 11:04

Picture-6.jpg

 

Calandracas #1

 Selected Stories & Other Writings


 

 

Philippine Copyright©2006 by A. R. Enriquez

 Cover Design by Anton Vladimir V. Enriquez

Drawing by Nonoy Estarte

 Contents

 

Fiction

 

Short Stories

Asocena 6, Iguana 25, Pablo-Pedro 54, The Ant Hill 79

The Icon 97, Dance a White Horse to Sleep 167

 

First Chapter

Subanons

English 193

Chabacano 210

 

Essays

To Forge a Voice 228, Writing in English 245

 Scraps

Zamboanga:the “Garden of Flowers”

never was! 255, Jesuits Return to Fort Pilar: 1666—

No Way! 259

 

 

Fiction

 

Short Stories

 

 EXTRACTS:

 

 

ASOCENA

 

Like most of the boys in Labuan, a

coastal barrio in Zamboanga, Chu had a farm

dog. He called him Leal, which in the native

tongue Chabacano means loyal. It was always

fun to watch Leal chase the big monkeys in the

cornfield, for as the dog passed under the low

branches of the trees on the slope of a small hill

above the slash-and-burn farm, the monkeys

hanging by their tails from the low branches

would reach out and pull Leal’s tail. This

always enraged the dog and he would bark at

the foot of the hill until the monkeys, bored,

left for higher branches. Chu could not think of

anything funnier happening to a farm dog.

Early one morning Leal was missing,

and Chu went up to their farm to look for him.

“Have you seen Leal, Pa?” he said.

“No,” his father said. “I thought he was

with you when I left the house.”

“I hope nothing has happened to him,”

the boy said.

The father noted real worry in his son’s

voice. His boy was taking it badly. He was too

“Maybe he’s in the house,” he said.

“I already looked for him everywhere

in the house,” the boy said, “and on the yard,

too.”

“Don’t worry, Chu,” the father said. “He

is just around somewhere.”

“Do you think, Pa,” Chu said, “anything

has happened to him?”

There was that worry in his voice again,

the father noticed. Chu looked bad trying to

hide his worry, not knowing how to handle it.

“You are a big worrier,” he said. “Why don’t

you look for him at the river? He loves to flush

those wild palomas pigeons along the river

bank.”

The sun was still very young in the

morning. Chu walked barefoot along the

footpath, coming down the slope of the hill

through the meadow in front of the house. The

path was smooth and the dew was cool under

his bare feet. He passed the house and went

around the back and on to the long bank of the

river, his feet wet in the mud clay, and then

went up the river to a clearing below the woods

where the wild pigeons came down every

morning. But the palomas were quietly feeding

in the black sand, pecking at the small pebbles,

lumping low and short-legged on the river bed.

If Leal were here, he would come between them

and the clearing, and once they flushed they

would come whirring at him, some rising

steep,others skimming by his head, before they

angled back down into the brush. And so Chu

went on, around the clearing, taking the longer

route back to the house.

At lunch Chu would not eat anything.

He sat at the table staring at the food on his

plate. He had that worried look again, the same

one as at the farm, staring at his food without

touching it.

His father said, “Don’t you want to

eat?”

Chu said,” I’m not hungry.”

“The tapa sundried meat is

wonderful.” The father picked up Chu’s plate,

put a piece of fried venison on it, and, setting

the plate down in front of the boy, he said, “You

try it, hijo.”

Chu’s mother reached for a knife on the

table and cut the venison into slices. Then she

set the knife down beside the meat. She said,

“Try a tiny piece, Chu.”

“I don’t want to eat anything,” the boy

said.

__________________   

 

 

Iguana

 

 

We heard the mother hen croak.

“Get up, Macario,” Ma said.

“The mother hen…”

“What?” said Pa, awakening.

We heard the hen croak again

and then, all of a sudden, become quiet…

“The mother hen,” Ma said.

“Maybe the iguana has entered the chicken

house. Quick.”

“Leche!” Pa said.

I am sitting on the top rung of the kitchen steps

with a .22-caliber rifle in my hands. I sit there

waiting for the iguana to come out of the

bamboo thickets across the river. It is morning,

soft and light.

Just then I hear mama call me from the

flower garden. I lean the rifle against the wall

of the kitchen and go down the wooden steps.

Then I go around the back of the house and on

to the footpath, worn smooth and scoured by

countless interminable feet, and then across

before the now useless, broken-down chicken

house. I go on. Suddenly the path levels off as

straight as a plumb-line toward the garden. I

walk a small way on the footpath before

stopping in front of the garden.

Ma is squatting on the ground before her flower

bed of daisies. Her hands are busy turning the

soft black loam over and patting it gently

around the stems. “Where is the water I asked

you for?” she says without yet looking up at

me. “Did I not tell you to bring me some

water?”

I have forgotten all about the water.

“You did not tell me, Ma,” I say. She stands up,

her hands caked with black loam and hanging

rigid at her sides. She turns toward me. Her

eyes become locked with mine, quiet and

searching. But I still don’t move.

“You must help me in the garden, hijo,”

she says. “For your father won’t lift a finger to

help me.” As I look back at her, I notice the

reddish blotches on the balls of her eyes and the

swelling around them, and I think, She cried

some more after Pa left. She cried there in her

room. Alone there in her room she cried as papa

tramped angrily out of the house.

Earlier Pa had shouted at her and was

very red behind the ears with anger. I was then

under the house, the bamboo-split floor not

three feet above my bare head, and I was about

to take the fodder to our pigs when I heard him,

in the sala, say: “I’m not giving you even a

centavo. Not one centavo, do you hear? Nothing

for that foolishness of a chicken house.”

“The iguana will kill all my chicks,”

said Ma. I suddenly stood stock-still under the

house, not making any noise that would warn

them. Then she said, “Last night I lost my last

chicken, the mother hen of those chicks. If you

don’t give me money to repair the coop, the

iguana will eat all those chicks tonight. See if I

am wrong.”

I could hear them talking loudly in the

sala through the bamboo-split floor. I heard Pa

say, almost hissing with anger, “That wouldn’t

have happened if you had listened to me. But

you would not listen. What you listen to are

those foolish ideas which go around in your

head.”

“You do not care about the chicks,” I heard

mama say. “You would rather see them all eaten

up by the iguana than give a centavo to repair

the chicken house.” Standing under the bamboo

floor directly where they both stood or sat I

heard papa’s chair scrape as though he were

about to rise, and then just as suddenly he

changed his mind and remained seated, still and

immobile.

Repost 0
Published by Antonio Enriquez - in short stories
write a comment

Présentation

  • : Antonio Enriquez's name
  • Antonio Enriquez's name
  • : Work of folktales, historical pieces, fiction and nonfiction: stories and novels set mostly in Zamboanga Peninsula and Maguindanao. Chabacano pieces.
  • Contact

Recherche

Liens