Hamyang

Ni Alvin Q. Larida
Sugilanon

Sang nag-umpisa ang amon pag-imaway ni Nato, ginpaningkamotan gid namon magtiayon magpatindog sang amon puloy-an malayo sa poder ni Tatay, ang akon ugangan, agud mahibaloan man namon ang insakto nga pagbahinbahin sang amon nga budget. Agot si Nato sa lima nga magbulugto. Galagmay pa lang sila sang mailo sa ila iloy. Gani si Tatay Pedring lang ang nagbuhi kag nagpaeskwela sa ila tanan paagi sa ila gamay nga duta sa Barangay Canahay.

Sa tatlo ka tuig namon nga paglumon kay Tatay, indi maayo ang amon nangin relasyon. Ini man ang rason kung ngaa masami ang amon away ni Nato. Makita ko man nga palangga gid ni Tatay si Nato kag ang amon tatlo ka kabataan. Amo gid ini sang una ang nagapugong sa kaawot sang amon paghalin sa poder sang akon ugangan.

Sang mahuman ang amon ginapatindog nga balay sa Poblacion, nag-asiasi ako higayon nga magbalhin. Nangin mayad man ang amon pangabuhi. Taga Sabado, galagaw ang kabataan didto sa uma tungod mahilig sila maligo sa suba kag maningit sang kamunsil sa pangpang. Didto sila gapaamulya sa ila mga pakaisa. Taga uli nila kung hapon, madamo ang ila bitbit nga kamunsil. Gakaramungi pa gani ang tabungos.

Nagdugay kami sa Poblacion, apang taga fiesta lang ako makalagaw didto sa Canahay. Maayo na kung makaduwa ka bes ako makapalapit didto sa balay ni Tatay sa isa ka tuig. Wala man kami nagsabtanay ni Tatay sang naghalin kami sa iya poder, apang indi gid makabungat ang akon baba sa pagpanambit sa iya. Indi ko gid mapanalawsawan ang akon ginabatyag nahanungod sa iya.

Apang uyon gid sang kadamuan si Tatay. Nangin kapitan pa gani ini sang tatlo ka termino sa Canahay. Ginapalapitan ini sang mga kubos kag mga abyan niya. Taga hapon, samtang pula pa ang adlaw sa galawahan, ginapreparar na ni Tatay ang iya tuba nga ginbudburan sang balok kag padeharyo nga maskadahon, kumpleto sa buyo kag apog. May manamit pa ini nga sumsuman nga adobo nga bakbak ukon sinanlag nga apan. Kung makadawadawa kag dako ang patubas, shoktong ukon lapad man ang ginarolyo ni Tatay sa lamesa. Ini tanan para sa iya mga abyan kag kumpare. Pirti gid sila ka malipayon sa hinali nga maigo na sila sang ila tuba. Nagakisikisi gid si Tiyoy Nardo kag Tiyoy Dido sa ambahanon nga ginatira ni Tatay sa iya gitara.

Udto ato sang Marso kag nagapamaypay ako sa kagin-ot sa amon balkon sang nakabaton ako sang text halin kay Nato nga sa ospital kuno si Tatay diri sa Poblacion. Nagpin-ot kuno ang iya dughan kag nasapwan siya sa kusina nga nakahapa sa kilid sang buka nga baso. Gani nanghimos ako dayon para magkadto sa ospital.

Pag-abot ko sa ospital, daw gindapyahan ako sang mayami nga hangin. Paggawa ko sa ICU, sa nahamtangan ni Tatay, nakita ko nga mahuyang na siya kag nagapiyong na lang. Nabuta ang iya lawas sang aparato nga nagasuporta sa iya paginhawa. Naganguyngoy sa iya kilid si Manang Cecil, subang sa babaye kag ikaduwa niya nga bata. Daw indi ko makaya magsulod sa kwarto, gani gintext ko anay ang akon bana kung makapalapit siya higayon sa ospital para upod kami.

Sa kadugay ni Nato, ginpugos ko ang akon kaugalingon nga magsulod sa ICU. Nagtulukay lang kami ni Manang Cecil, kag ginkaptan ko ang kamot kag dapadapa ni Tatay nga tuman ka yami. Wala gid may naggwa biskan isa ka tinaga sa akon baba, biskan pag-agda na lang kay Manang. Daw ginsalapid ang akon dila sang tion nga ato. Hinayhinay ako dayon nga naggwa sa kwarto.

Sang nakauli na ako sa balay, nagtawag dayon si Nato nga wala na si Tatay—patay na si Tatay. Ginpahimos ako ni Nato para mag-uli sa uma. Kinanglan namon iplastar ang puloy-an ni Tatay para sa iya hamyang. Nag-una ako sa Canahay upod ang mga bata.

Sang ginahimos ko ang hiligdaan ni Tatay, nadiparahan ko ang nakatangkas nga mga album sa iya uluhan. Didto pa ang mga kodak sa kasal namon ni Nato. May mga nakapiod man nga mga relip nga bayo kag bistida nga sa akon tan-aw ginbakal niya para sa iya mga apo. Pagpalapit ko sa kusina, may nakita ko nga mga nakatangkas nga tabungos sa banggirahan. May mga pangalan nga nakasulat sa mga ini. Una ko nasid-ingan ang akon ngalan—Veronica. Abi ko anay si Nato ang nagapangpupu kag nagapangkutol sang mga gulay nga ginadala niya sa balay.

Nagtulo ang luha halin sa akon mata. Nangluya ako angay sang mga dahon sang alugbati nga nagaloyloy sa tabungos. Nakibot ako sang may naghaplas sa akon likod—si Manang Sylvia, asawa ni Manong Lando, subang nanday Nato. “Kaina pa kamo, Veron?” bungat niya sa akon.

“Mga duwa pa lang ka oras, Manay,” sabat ko.

Nangin masako kami sa pagpanghimos. Pag-abot sang mag-ululutod, nagtilipon dayon sila para pagaistoryahan ang mga plano. Isa lang ka semana ang hamyang ni Tatay, tutal wala man sang ginapaabot nga paryente halin sa malayo nga lugar kag ini man ang gintulin niya sang buhi pa siya.

Madamo nga abyan ang nag-abot para itukod ang palaypay sa atubang sang balay. Madamo man ang nagpahulam sang lamesa kag mga bangko para gamiton sa hamyang. Tuman kasako nga kalisod apang masadya nga hilikoton sang pamilya.

Daw fiesta sang Canahay taga gab-i sa balay ni Tatay. Ang mga may edad nagahampang sang tong-its, pyatpyat, kag Lucky 9, samtang ang mga kabataan naga-lukoluko kabayo, one-two-three-four-pass, ukon amo-amo. Amo man kami kasako para magsukad sang meryenda nga nilaga nga saging kag kamote para ipares sa kape. Ang mga nanay nagalutik sa bomba sa pagpanghugas sang mga dalagko nga kaldero, kawa, kag pipila nga mga pinggan kag tasa. Biskan sin-o na lang ang nagapalapit sa balay para maghatag kag magdaguro, halin sa gubernador sang probinsya padalom sa mayor sang banwa. Gani daw napigaran gawa ang kalisod kag kasubo nga naagum sang bug-os nga pamilya.

Pagkatapos sang lubong ni Tatay, samtang sabak ko ang amon agot nga si Loloy, nga wala gahalin ang mga kamot sa akon soso sa pagpangayutong, may nagpalapit nga mal-am nga babaye sa lamesa. Nanghugas ini sa kawa nga may nilaga nga dahon sang kabugaw. Dayon nagkuha ini sang paper plate kag naggalo sang kan-on kag lauya kag afritada. Ayawan man kapugong ang paper plate sa iya ginbutang. Nagaudauda nga nagpungko ang mal-am sa uway nga bangko sa akon tupad.

“Uy, Veron, kumusta na ikaw?” ang muno niya sa akon

“Mayad man, Tiyay, ah,” sabat ko. Gindaho ko ang kamot sang bata sa iya. “Oh, amin na kay Lola.”

“Ay abaw, amo na ning agot mo?” ang dugang niya. “Amo gid ini ang pirmi ginabungat ni Pare Pedring sa balay sang buhi pa siya. Tuman daw kabus-ok sang agot niyo ni Nato.”

Ginahunahuna ko kung sin-o ang mal-am.

“Abi mo lang, Veron,” padayon niya, “sang nagabusong pa ikaw sang una sang subang mo, mapisan gid maningit sang paho si Pare sa amon kay ihatag niya kuno sa iya umagadon nga nagapanamkon sang maaslum nga paho nga ginpaligid sa ginamos.”

Gaalalapok ang kan-on sa baba sang mal-am samtang nagalitanya sa akon, kag ang kaina nga nagaingos nga si Loloy, nalingaw nga nagapamati sa iya.

“Palangga niya gid kamo sato kay kamo gid daw ang makaatipan sa iya kay agot niya si Nato kag giunungan ninyo siya.”

Nangin hipus ako sa pipila ka minuto. Natunaw ang mga tinaga sa akon dila. Nanindog ang akon mga bulbul sa mga matuod nga sugilanon sang mal-am sa akon. Basta si Nato na gani ang manginahanglan kag maghulam, wala gid nagabalibad si Tatay. Mangita ini paagi mahatagan lang ang iya bata.

Mga pila man ka gab-i nga wala ako mayad nga tinulugan, sige ka paminsar kay Tatay. Maluya ako ka tuman. Napuno ako sang kapung-aw, kag daw ginayaguta ako sang paghinulsol sa akon nahibaloan. Wala man lang ako kapangayo pasaylo sa iya.

Samtang nagapungko ako, may lalaki ako nga nasanaaw sa indi malayo, nagapanglakaton sa kahon. May bitbit ini nga tabungos nga buta sang kamunsil kag paho. Nagtangis ako, kag hinali ako ginpukaw ni Nato. “Nagaugayong ka, ga!”

Ginhakus ko ang akon bana. “Ga, updi ko magkadto kay Tatay buwas sa patyo,” siling ko sa iya. Ginhugot niya ang hakus niya sa akon kag gintrapohan sang iya palad ang akon mga luha.

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Dust and Drizzle

By Gian Carlo Licanda
Fiction

Something I can never understand whenever my mind wanders back to Marco is why he left the way he did. I often imagined that when whatever that we had was going to end, there would be lots of crying, of explaining why it hadn’t worked out, of whispering assurances between sobs that everything was going to be okay. But when he left, no words were spoken. I just woke up one morning alone in the bed that still bore the creases of his shape—arms spread as if they were welcoming my arrival, as if letting myself fall on the bed meant that he would hold me and never let go.

But in my unguarded moments, when my mind takes me back to him, I often wonder: Why did he leave me?

It might have begun on the morning of Marco’s thirty-second birthday. I woke up half an hour before he did that day, remembering that his wife and children was arriving from Davao to celebrate with him. If he had told me this the other night, I wouldn’t have come over. I didn’t want Agnes to find me in bed with her ex-husband. It was doubtful if this would matter to her, who would probably just think that I was just hanging out with Marco at a bar downtown last night and was just too wasted to go home. But it did matter to me.

Marco and Agnes had separated a year before. I didn’t exactly know the reason behind, but I knew that it had something to do with Marco’s proclivity for gambling. When he called me on the day Agnes and he separated and she brought the children to Davao with her, he was crying. I didn’t think twice about coming over to keep him company. He was my best friend since high school. And more than that, I had always loved him. It pained me so much to see him devastated over his family—and the life he always dreamed of having—crumbling right under his feet. That night, we drank bottle after bottle of beer until we winded up kissing and undressing each other in bed. And that unexpected turn of events spiraled out of hand and brought me to that day a year later, on the same bed with him, in the same room that smelled of cigarettes, beer, and after-sex musk.

When I woke up that morning, I did not spring up at once. I lay on the edge of the bed in the wash of morning sunlight that was coming in to the room in a slant through the glass window. My mind went over the ingredients I was going to buy at the grocery store on the way home from work. I was going to cook his favorite Mexican casserole for dinner. We planned on heading out to the beach on the night Agnes and the kids had gone back home.

I should be moving, but instead, I stared at the tiny flecks of dust in the ray of light and thought about how they had always been there in the room with us just floating about—unseen, silent, and in secret. Then my eyes darted onto Marco, and I thought about how we were just like the dust. But I didn’t mind. If this was the only way to be with him.

When I was done getting dressed, I bent toward his sleeping figure and kissed him on the cheek.

“Happy birthday, love,” I whispered.

He stirred but didn’t wake up.

* * *

Maybe it began when Marco arrived at my apartment a little after six that day. I had just finished cooking and had not taken a shower yet when he announced his arrival with a honk of his car. I went to the gate still wearing an apron. I thought that that might have infuriated him. He always hated it when I became unconscious with the time. Sitting next to him in his car on the way to the beach, he was very silent, and was monosyllabic and noncommittal when answering questions.

“How was the day with the kids?”

“Fine.”

“Where did you take them today?”

“Just around.”

“Did Agnes come with you?”

“Yeah.”

The conversation went on and on that way. I kept on talking to lighten up the mood, to lighten him up.

“This is going to be a perfect night. Have you read the papers? There’s going to be a meteor shower tonight. And what better place to watch it than at the beach? Plus it’s your birthday!”

“Yeah.”

“Hey, are you okay?” I reached out and squeezed him on his shoulder. “You seem . . . off.”

“Sorry. It’s just . . . ” He hesitated. “I’m just tired.”

“From last night?” I said. That made him chuckle, and I was glad it did.

I looked out ahead of us and noticed the fine drizzle through the beam of the headlights, and the glowing insects flying along the road, probably looking for some bush for cover from the rain. My heart sank. I really wanted us to watch the meteor shower and hoped that the drizzle wouldn’t turn into rain.

The rest of the ride I spent contemplating about how our relationship were like the dust and drizzle. We were unseen unless exposed in a certain slant of light in the bedroom, or a passing car’s headlight shining on the road. I wondered what was going to happen if one day we woke up and what we had was exposed in the light. The thought didn’t help, not with Marco’s dismissive attitude at the moment. So I cleared my mind and tried my best to fall asleep in the midst of the engines revving.

Had I known that it was going to be the last time I would be with him, I would have held his hand in the car throughout the ride. But we were just humans, with no knowledge of what tomorrow held. I was just living in that moment with him, oblivious that in Marco’s mind, he was thinking of ways to leave me without hurting me. Of words to say so that the ending wouldn’t hurt me. That much. But being left behind is always going to be painful. And of all people, Marco should know that.

On that last night we spent at the beach, I was sure it was a prelude to something so great to have in this lifetime—to have someone, to love someone, and be loved in return. I was certain he loved me. Of course, he loved me. Although he hadn’t told me so yet, I was so sure of it. I believed that what we had went beyond the affirmation needed through words, that what mattered were the actions. I felt it with the way he looked at me, with the way he kissed me, and most especially when we kept each other warm in bed at night.

Thinking about it now, maybe that was just all I was to him—someone to keep him warm whenever he got lonely at night.

Over dinner that night at the beach, Marco was still strangely silent, and it was making me uncomfortable.

“How was the food?” I asked him, beaming.

“It’s delicious,” he said without even looking at me.

“What is it, really?” I asked. I was beginning to lose my temper. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I just . . .” His voice trailed off. “I told you, I’m just tired.”

I didn’t know why, but it scared me. I couldn’t even bring myself to ask him what he was tired of. I was afraid that if I pressed on, he would say that he was tired of me. Of us. So instead, I told him that I wanted to watch the meteor shower that would begin in a few moments.

And tonight, I thought, tonight I am going to tell you I love and that I want us to be together. Out in the open.

* * *

I didn’t actually quite get what Marco meant when he said one time that some words were so hard to speak out, they tangled themselves in your throat in an almost choking manner. It was probably him exaggerating things again as he often did, I thought. He loved taking things up a few notches than what they actually were. Like how one time, when we were huddled in our favorite spot in a corner table at Starbucks, he insisted that it was my new hair color, ash gray, that was giving him a headache. I thought he meant it figuratively. But he then proceeded to explain how the color hurt his eyes, that the pain traveled through some nerves and manifested in his head. I mean, how can a mere hair color give someone a headache? How can words choke you?

But that time, I understood what he was saying as the words got caught up inside my throat.

We dressed up and went outside to the fishnet hammock underneath the coconut trees where we could get the best view of the night sky. Before midnight, the meteors began to appear. Our conversation was continually broken by exclamations of “There’s one!” and pointless attempts to point the meteor as the other tried to find the fleeting flash amid the myriad of silver dots of light. Then I took his hand in mine. He darted his gaze away from the sky to me, smiling, and at the same time arching his eyebrow in wonder.

I looked at him in the eye and opened my mouth to speak. I wanted to ask him what we were. I wanted to ask him if he really loved me. But the words wouldn’t come out. I felt my chest tighten, and unconsciously, I was holding my breath. I closed my mouth and opened it again, but still, the words wouldn’t come out. I was suddenly not sure of everything that was happening between us. The words were held back by uncertainties and fears of rejection. The act was painful, as if my words had suddenly took a physical form and they laid there unmoving inside my throat, blocking my airways, choking me to death.

We never saw the stars the other people in the beach saw, focused as we were in our own patch of sky. After a while, I just kept my sightings to myself, making each meteor mine, while he kept his, too, both pretending the shooting stars had simply stopped.

I was happy with what we had, so I told myself that whether I told him I love him or not didn’t matter. What mattered that moment was we were together.

* * *

There are so many moments in this lifetime that I wish I could relive. But one thing that haunted me the most is the sight of him lying beside me in the hammock, smiling and running his fingers on my cheeks. In that moment, basking in the glow of his eyes, I felt one with the shooting stars.

I regret not taking the chance in that moment. Many years later, whenever I try to relive that moment, I like to imagine that this is what happened: When he looked at me when the stars rained down from the heavens, I told him I love him, and he said it back to me. Then he took me in his arms, and we went back to the room and made love once again. When I woke up that morning, he was there beside me sleeping, not just his shape imprinted on the bed that had gone cold in his absence.

* * *

The weeks that came after that event were torture. I came to his apartment only to find him gone, along with his possessions. I tried to reach him in every way imaginable, to no avail. At last, when I had mustered enough courage to call Agnes, pretending to check on the kids, I found out that they had gotten back together. It turned out that on his birthday, they had a talk. Agnes was thinking that it was best for the kids that they got back together and urged Marco to come live with them in Davao.

“I’m glad you’re back together,” I told her over the phone. I was glad I didn’t cry. I was glad my voice wasn’t breaking at the news. But my heart did. “I really am.”

“Me, too. I thought a year away with him would do the trick. But turns out the heart wants who it wants.” I could almost see her smile in her voice. “So I’m giving him another chance. I just wish this time it would work out. You know. For the kids. For us.”

“Of course it will.”

“Hey, thanks for looking out for him when we were away.”

“Anything for my best man.” I laughed a little, which sounded awkward, so I punctuated it with clearing my throat.

“He’s here. Wait, I’m giving him the phone.”

“No, it’s okay.” But it was too late. Marco was already on the other end of the line.

“Hey,” he said in an almost broken whisper.

I did not say anything. I hung up.

* * *

Years later, when the wounds had healed and our paths crossed once again, I could still feel regret that I didn’t tell him that night at the beach what I had always wanted to tell him. I don’t know if it would have changed anything. The feeling of regret jolted out from me when I saw him in a fast food restaurant. But time had dulled the feeling.

I couldn’t sleep that night, so I had decided to go out and read the night away at McDonald’s. My eyes kept on darting from the pages of the book to the glass doors whenever someone came in. For some reason, I was suddenly thinking about Marco. It was almost like before, when we would hang out here until dawn to read or talk or both, over cheeseburgers and fries. I remembered in particular the way we shared fries. Although we were not saying it, we were making sure that we got one alternately. And one time, when there was only one left of the fries, he picked it up, dipped it in the catsup, and darted it towards my mouth. I bit the half, my lips barely touching his fingers. And he said, laughing, “Fair is fair.” And then I laughed along with him because I was happy, too.

And as if the universe felt my internal recollection and wanted to mock me, I saw Marco coming in through the doors. He passed by me and took a table right in front of me. All of a sudden, more memories that I had buried deep down came rushing to the surface. And the surge of emotion was so overwhelming that I couldn’t even begin to single out one. I watched him through the corners of my eyes. Through the blur, I made out his familiar contour and self-possession—the way he sat, like he was leaning in to listen. It was him. It was both overwhelmingly sad and relieving. After a long time, finally, I saw him.

I found myself arguing if I should stay inside the restaurant or just go, but then decided that this night had to happen, so I stayed. I calmed myself.

When he turned, he saw me. I watched him from the corner of my eyes watching me, and I knew I had to turn. When I did, we stared at each other for a moment. He was surprised and was obviously uncomfortable. I gave him a weak smile and looked away. I gathered the books I had laid on the table, and stood up to leave.

He followed me outside, and I let him walk with me on the street. We were silent for a time, feeling the awkward air hanging around us. I hugged the books on my chest, for the night had gone quite cold.

“It’s getting cold.” He finally broke the silence.

“Well, it’s almost Christmas again.” I took the opportunity for a closer look. His jet-black hair was now dyed a dark brown, though still tousled as if it had been caught by a wind. He had a pimple or two on his cheek, and dark circles around his eyes, probably because of spending too many nights playing his online game, again. Or gambling?

As we walked, I began to feel more at ease, and I just kept myself from saying that this was the first time we had seen each other after many years.

We walked a few more steps in a companionable silence. Then in a self-conscious voice, he began to tell me about Agnes and the kids, his life in Davao, and about how he was so thankful he got his family back together. I also decided to tell him about my life—about leaving the city and living in the country, about my work in a public high school, and about the book I was working on. Often, he gave me that inquiring, childlike look of his that I so loved.

After close to half an hour, when I was well aware that we had already walked more than halfway to where I was staying the night, I told him I had to go.

While hailing a tricycle, he said, “I think of you often.” Amid the drones of the vehicles that were passing by, I could hear the loneliness in his voice. And although I had wanted it for so long, I never asked the reason for his leaving me. For some reason, I felt that I did not need an answer anymore, but a closure. I needed us an ending.

There was a question in his eyes. He wasn’t asking for forgiveness but something more—something, maybe, to gauge the extent of his own delusion. Forgiveness, I had given him months before. But his look, his lingering, angered me as silent expectations often did. I managed to hide this with a smile, and to assure him, I held his hand, and squeezed it, just like the old days.

“I loved you, you know.” I told him.

This had the most unbelievable effect.

Standing there on the sidewalk among the passers-by, he gave a sudden cry, and he covered his mouth. His chest shuddered, and his eyes filled with tears. He was aware of the looks the people were giving us.

I took his hand again and said, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t know why I said that.

He kept on shaking his head. He looked ready to speak but said nothing.

“It’s okay,” I said. “You don’t have to answer me. You know, some words are so hard to speak, they choke you.”

I offered to walk him back to McDonald’s, but he refused. When he felt better, he raised his gaze to look at me with that same unaskable question. Then he leaned and kissed me fully on the cheek. His lips were cold, and somehow they suggested the ending I needed, that we both needed.

“I loved you, too, Miguel,” he said. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you. But you knew that, didn’t you? I loved you, too.”

I stared at him. If you had loved me, I wanted to say, and if what you are saying were true, then before you leave right now, look at me and tell me why you left me that way. Tell me how a person can love someone and at the same time see him unworthy of explanations why he was left behind. Tell me all the ways and words for goodbye until my ears tire of hearing them, until there’s nothing left to say in this lifetime, which would have been everything that mattered to me when we were still together though breaking apart. Tell me.

But instead, I just nodded and smiled.

Then he walked away. But before he disappeared around the corner, he turned to look at me one last time. I couldn’t remember how long it was. But this time, it seemed to me like he took all the time in the world to leave me.

Amay, Anak, kag Tiyay Magda

Ni Alvin Q. Larida 
Sugilanon

 

Ginaganahan ako kaupod siya, ang nagatudlo sa amon sang maayo nga  tinuohan kag nagpakilala sa tatlo ka persona nga amon dalangpan—ang Amay, ang Anak, kag si Tiyay Magda.

Sa Sitio San Joaquin, sa pagluad sang dulom, nagatililipon kami sa Payag Dalangpan, kung sa diin ang mga babaye nagasuksok sang bandana nga puti nga may marka sang trayanggulo nga mata—simbolo sang tatlo ka persona—samtang ang mga lalaki nagasuksok sang itom nga balabal nga ginburambod sa ulo.

Ako subong ang natulinan ni Tiyay Magda nga magpreparar sa Dalangpan. Sa sulod sang tatlo ka bulan, kinahanglan nga diri ako magtinir sa payag kaupod niya. Ang pag-atipan kag pagbantay sa amon manunudlo isa sa dose ka kasuguan. Palangga namon si Tiyay labaw pa sa pagpalangga niya sa amon.

Sa pagkagat sang dulom, samtang sanaaw pa ang planeta Venus, nagahalok kami tanan kay Tiyay bilang amon balaan nga pagrespeto sa tinuohan. Magaumpisa ang amon pamulong-pulong sa tinaga nga Nilatin: Concupitio mala, dilige Christum, daemona secteris, salvifcum. Nagaararapok ang lana halin sa baba ni Tiyay samtang ginamitlang ini. Ginatim-id gid sang tagsa ka myembro ang mga tinaga nga ginaluad ni Tiyay. Para sa amon, bulawan ang mga tinaga, gani amon ini ginausang sang taman-taman, kag magagurumo ang amon kasingkasing sang tampad nga pag-ulikid sa balaan nga persona.

Pagkatapos sang hulubaton, ang tagsa ka myembro kinahanglan nga magapamanyos kag magainom sang lana, nga naghalin sa binalhasan ni Tiyay kag dinuplaan sang tatlo ka bes. Diri namon maagom ang kapawa kag kahilwayan halin sa tatlo ka persona.

Nagparauli na ang mga myembro sang mag-urangol ang ido sa Dalangpan. Malamig na ang dapya sang hangin, kag matingil na ang inukay nga kawayan sa sobra kabaskog sang amihan. Init gid lamang halin sa pugon ang nagapusnga sa amon malamig nga panit.

Nagsukad ko sang kan-on, kag ginbutang sa lamesa ang amon sud-an nga bulad. Ginsugba ko na ini kagaina bag-o mag-umpisa ang pamulong-pulong. Nanamitan si Tiyay sa kaparat sang bulad, gani tatlo gid ka luwag nga kan-on ang ginbutang niya sa iya plato kag ginpugaan ini sang tatlo ka kihad nga kamatis. Madasig niya nga ginmoal ang amon nga panyapon sa iya maligwa nga ngislo.

Mal-am na si Tiyay. Nag-saysyentay singko anyos na siya sang nagligad semana. Apang makita mo pa ang kabakod sang iya lawas, kahimsog sang iya mga titi, kag kahamis sang iya panit biskan kurinot na ini. Ako baynte-uno anyos pa lang, apang sa akon butkon nakapas-an ang kaluwasan sang amon myembro.

Sa amon pagpahuway ni Tiyay, ginhumlad ko ang banig sa amon katre kag ginplastaran ini sang tatlo ka ulunan. Gintabunan ko ang mata ni Tiyay sang bandana nga puti, tapos gin-amat-amat ko uba ang akon T-shirt kag shorts. Naghigda ako nga nakahublas sa katre. Gin-alsa ko ang akon butkon kag ginpaubaya ang kaugalingon sa ikatatlo nga persona.

Nag-ugayong si Tiyay, tanda sang iya pagbasbas sang ikaduwa nga pamulong-pulong. Hinay-hinay niya gin-uba ang iya bestida, kag hinali nga nagsaka sa akon. Indi ko pwede tandugon si Tiyay sa iya pagduruwadi, nga iya gin-ubra samtang gapaspas nga gapaspas ang pagpanakayon sa akon. Raginit sang katre kag ingos lamang ni Tiyay ang mabatian sa sulod sang Dalangpan.

Nakibot ako sang gindilapan ni Tiyay ang akon dughan, kag nagtinir ang hampang sang iya dila sa akon pusod. Kag higayon niya ako gin-ulaan sang lana—ginbubuan sang balaan nga likido. Kag hinali niya ini ginlumoy nga daw uhaw sa ilig sang akon pagpautwas.

Natapos kami ni Tiyay nga nagakabatyag sang kahilwayan kag kaluwasan.

Amo ini ang samyaw sang akon kabuhi sa poder ni Tiyay. Amo ini ang akon nga sugo—ang pagaupdan ang ikatatlo nga persona.

Sa sunod nga sinemana, ang akon naman pakaisa nga si Nonoy ang magaupod kay Tiyay para siya pagaalagaran kag palanggaon labaw pa sa pagpalangga niya sa amon. Kay ini isa lamang sa dose ka kasuguan nga ginbantala sa amon sang tatlo ka persona—ang Amay, ang Anak, kag si Tiyay Magda.

Kung Di Mo Na Kaya

Ni Rustom M. Gaton
Maikling Kuwento

 

Sa unang pagkakataon, nakita kong maayos ang kuwarto ko. Nakatupi ang kumot, tama at walang yukot ang bedsheet, nakapuwesto ang mga unan. Wala na ring laman ang laundry bin, at wala ring nagkalat na damit sa itaas at ilalim ng kama.

Maging study table ko sa gilid ay nailigpit ding maigi. Nakasalansan ang mga papel, at nakasilid lahat sa garapon ang mga bolpen at lapis. Ang nakatuping papel sa gitna ng mesa ay maayos rin ang pagkapatong.

Maayos na sana lahat kung wala lang ang malamig kong katawan na nakabitay sa ceiling fan at ang nakatumbang monobloc chair sa ilalim.

Dapat talaga masaya ako ngayon eh kasi sa wakas ay naayos ko na lahat. Naiwan ko na lahat ng pagod ko. Hinihintay ko na lang ang liwanag na kukuha sa akin.

Ang tagal. Parang dinudurog ang puso ko sa paghihintay. Sino ang mag-aakala na maaari ko rin palang kaawaan ang sarili kong kalagayan?

Tinitigan ko ang nakabitay kong katawan na ngayon ay wala nang kabuhay-buhay. Ang putla na nito. Kulay kahel na rin ang mga labi nito. Gayunpaman, mukha lang mahimbing na natutulog ang bangkay. Tila ba wala itong dinadalang anumang pasanin sa buhay.

Napansin ko ang mga daliri ng katawan. B-bakit kusang gumagalaw ang mga ito? nausal ko sa aking isip, at mas lalo pang nanlaki ang mga mata ko nang makitang unti-unting nabubuo ang isang ngiti sa mga labi ng katawan. Dahan-dahan ding bumuklat ang mga mata.

Napaatras ako sa aking nakikita. Bakit nabubuhay ang aking bangkay?

Umangat ang mga kamay ng katawan at hinawakan ang taling nakapulupot sa leeg nito, pilit itong kinakalas. Maya-maya pa’y nakawala sa tali ang katawan at nahulog sa sahig.

Bumangon ang katawan. Halatang labis itong nanghihina at paminsan-minsan pang umuubo.

Kinuha nito ang nakatumbang monobloc at pinatayo sa likod ng study table. Umupo ito at sumalampak ang ulo sa mesa.

Patay na ba siya ulit? Paano nangyari ’yon? Natutulog lang ba siya? Ako pa ba ’yan? Labis akong naguguluhan habang pinagmamasdan ang katawang natutulog sa mesa. May paminsan-minsan pang pumapatak na luha sa mga mata nito.

Halos isang oras din akong naghintay bago nagising muli ang katawan. Iniangat nito ang ulo mula sa mesa at pinahiran ang mga natuyong luha. Pagkatapos dinampot nito ang nakatuping papel, na naglalaman ng isinulat kong pamamaalam.

Hawak ng dalawang kamay, binasa nito ang nakasulat. “Hindi ko pala kayang gawin ito,” sabi nito maya-maya.

Kumunot ang noo ko. Ngunit nandito ako. Nandito pa ako sa labas ng katawan ko.

Pinunit nito ang papel at itinapon sa basurahan. Tumungo ito sa aparador at kinuha ang paborito kong kulay abong jacket. Isinuot rin nito ang bunny slippers ko na pink bago tuluyang lumabas ng silid.

Naiwan sa loob ng kuwarto na naguguluhan.

“Sabi ko na eh, susuko ka rin,” narinig kong may nagsabi sa likuran ko. “Mahirap talagang kontrolin ang babaeng iyon. Masyadong matigas ang ulo.”

Kaboses ko ang nagsasalita.

Lumingon ako, at sa sobrang gulat ko, napaatras ako sa aking kinatatayuan. Isang babae ang nakatayo sa harap ko. Mata-sa-matang tumitingin ito sa akin.

Kilalang-kilala ko ang mukha niya. “B-bakit kamukha kita?” nausal ko na lamang.

“Gaya mo, minsan din akong nasa loob ng babaeng iyon,” sagot nito. “Gaya mo, nasawi rin ako.” Inangat nito ang isang kamay, at nakita kong may hiwa ito sa pulso.

“Hindi pa tayo kinukuha ng liwanag dahil hihintayin pa natin ang kamatayan niya.” Isa na namang pamilyar na boses ang nagsalita. “Hindi pa niya oras.”

Tiningnan ko ang pinanggalingan ng boses, at nakakita ako ng isa na namang babaeng kamukha ko. May butas na gawa ng bala sa noo nito. Sa likuran nito, nakatayo ang marami pang babaeng kamukha ko.

Marami na kaming sumuko?

Diin na si Simó?

Ni Allan Ace Dignadice
Sugilanon

 

Mahilig si Simó maghampang sang loko-loko kabayo. Kahampang niya pirme ang iya duwa ka magulang nga lalaki, kag sa adlaw-adlaw nila nga pagpanaguay, pirme gid mapirde ang agot nga si Simó.

Isa ka udtong adlaw, samtang gapangita sang palanaguan si Simó sa ila balay, nakasulod siya sa isa ka kwarto nga amo pa lang niya nakita. Kay sin-o ni man? pamangkot niya sa iya huna-huna.

“Pernando nga tulisan, panago kamo tanan!” singgit sang isa niya ka magulang.

Nagdali-dali sa pagpanago si Simó sa isa ka dako nga aparador. Ginhawa niya ka hinay-hinay plastar ang iya lawas upod sang mga bayo kag sapatos. Mabatian niya ang pagkudog sang iya dughan kaupod sang iya madalom nga pagginhawa. Ginakulbaan siya nga basi ma-bong siya sang iya magulang.

Nag-agi ang pila ka minuto. Wala.

Daw madaog na gid ko sini! Namalakpak sa iya hunahuna si Simó.

Sang pipila pa gid ka minuto ang nag-agi, may nabatian na si Simó nga mga tingog. “Hoy, Simó! Diin ka timo?” singgit sang isa niya ka magulang.

Gusto lang ko sina nila ma-bong, gin-isip ni Simó. Indi takon maggwa.

“Simo? Ginapangita ka ni Manong mo,” pagpanawag sang iya iloy.

Abaw, gamiton pa nila si Mamang para mainto ko! Wala gihapon naggwa si Simó sa iya nga ginapanaguan.

“Simó! Bakulon ka gid ni Papang kay wala ka nanyapon!” pagpanghadlok sang isa pa niya ka magulang.

Gabangisi sa sulod sang aparador si Simó samtang gapinanawag ang iya pamilya sa iya. Ginaisip na lang ni Simó nga nainggit lang ang iya mga utod kay amo pa lang siya nadaog sa loko-loko kabayo. Ti man, nakabalos gid ko!

“Simó? Simó!”

“Diin ka na timo?”

“Simó, gwa na da. Pamahaw na!”

Daw wala lang sa bungog ni Simó ang pagpanawag sa iya.

“Simó!”

“Simó? Simó.”

Wala sa gihapon naggwa sa aparador ang agot. Sa iya huna-huna, Ahhh! Kun maggwa ko, hambalon lang na nila nga naka-seb si Manong. Indi takon!

Nag-agi pa ang pila ka minuto.

Kag inoras. Kag mga adlaw.

Semana. Bulan kag mga tinuig. Asta nga daw nalimtan na lang sang panimalay nga ginapangita pa nila si Simó. Nadula na ang mga pagpanawag, pagpaniyagit, kag pagpakitluoy. Nagtinong ang bug-os nga balay, kag wala na sang may naghampang pa liwat sang loko-loko kabayo kay asta sa sini nga mga tion, sila nagapalamangkutanon: Diin na si Simó?

Muwang

Ni Doren John Bernasol
Dagli

 

“’Nak, ibibigay ni sir lahat ng gusto mo,” panghihikayat ng ina. “’Yong bike, maraming chocolates, at iba pang mga laruan. May ipagyayabang ka na ulit sa mga kaklase mo. Di ba gusto mo ’yon, ’nak? Gusto mo ’yon?”

Diniinan ng ina ang hawak sa balikat ng bata. Tumango ang bata.

“Basta huwag kang iyak ha?” dagdag ng ina. “Sumunod ka lang sa gusto niya. Tulad lang ng ginawa mo dati kay sir.”

“Siya pa rin ho ba, Nay?” tanong ng bata.

“Di na, ’nak. Mas mabait ito siya. Kausapin mo. Marunong din siya ng konting Tagalog.”

Kinatok ng ina ang pinto.

Tumambad sa mag-ina ang maamong mukha ng matanda. Nakangiti. Walang balbas, puti ang buhok, at may kalakihan ang tiyan.

“Please be careful with my son, sir,” ang Ingles ng ina.

“Walang problema,” sabi ng matanda, sabay abot ng bayad. “As agreed. I added some.” Pinapapasok nito sa silid ang bata at isinara ang pinto. Umalis na ang nanay.

Umupo sa kama ang matanda at kinandong ang bata. “My dear, what’s your name?”

Di marunong mag-Ingles ang bata, pero natanong na ito sa kaniya dati. Sinagot niya ito ng buong pangalan at edad. Ito ang turo ng nanay niya. Matapos nito ay nagtanong ang bata, “Sabi ho ng nanay ko, bibilhan mo ako ng bike, chocolates, at iba pang laruan?”

“Oo naman,” sabi ng matanda. “Basta sundin mo ako.”

“Ay, hindi na lang ho ’yon.”

“Toy na lang? Tell me ano’ng toy gusto mo.”

“Puwede po bang huwag ni’yo na lang akong ibalik kina Nanay?”

Hindi tumugon ang matanda. Pinag-isipan nito ang gagawin habang akap ang bata.

It Comes at Night

By Angelo Serrano
Fiction

Daddy had to go out for the evening. I did not know where he was going, but I knew that Mommy was upset about it. She handled the dishes with little care, and I was worried they might break. The clinking of plates was just as loud as the gushing of water. She didn’t want him to go out again.

I was seven at the time.

Before he left, Daddy gave me a kiss on the forehead. “Be good to your mommy, OK?” he said. He tried giving Mommy a kiss as well, but she jerked her head away. Daddy closed the door behind him, and then it was quiet in our small house. Mommy placed a red kettle on the stove.

I spent the evening playing. Cheap plastic Power Rangers were fighting against Batman. Batman was winning because Batman always won. Daddy told me it was because he was brave. “We are both brave,” he would say. I admired Batman for that, and as a kid, I wanted to be just like him.

Just when Batman was about to beat the last Power Ranger, the pink one, Mommy told me it was time for my half bath. I resisted for a while because what child would let a bath get in the way of play? Mommy, however, asserted her authority. “One . . . two . . .”

She poured the steaming water from the red kettle into the pail and turned the tap on to mix it with cold water. She undressed me, then left me alone in the bath. I was old enough to bathe myself, and I was proud of it.

The water was at just the right temperature. It didn’t sear my skin and didn’t give me chills either. It was comforting and warmed me to my core. Mommy always knew how to find that balance. I scrubbed away the afternoon’s dirt while playing with the water and swirling it around with a dipper. Mid-bath, I panicked because of a cockroach. Mommy slapped it down with her slipper and took it away by its antenna. I did not enjoy the remainder of the bath, afraid that there might be more of them.

Once I was finished, Mommy patted me dry with a soft towel, and made me wear my pajamas. She made me a glass of warm milk, and I chugged it down. Mommy gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek for drinking it so quickly, and I felt proud of myself. Soon we were off to bed, and the lights were turned off.

At the time, my parents and I had to sleep in a mattress on the floor because we didn’t have a bedframe yet. I didn’t mind, really. All that was important to me was that it was comfortable. The mattress was soft, and I had my favorite pillow, so everything was fine. The only complain I had was that you could sometimes hear the monsters lurking outside. Whenever we heard them, Mommy would hold me close, and I would feel much safer and loved.

Sometimes, the monsters would be able to enter the house, but never our room.

That evening, another monster got inside. I did not know what time it was, but I woke up to the front door opening and slamming shut. Then I heard it taking a glass and turning on the tap. I heard its heavy and irregular footsteps, just outside our bedroom. It was singing to itself, terribly. I did not understand what it was saying, or what it was singing, but I was scared. The darkness in our room did not help, but Mommy held me tight, as if to say she wouldn’t let anything happen to me.

A few minutes of more singing and bellowing from the monster passed. Without warning, it uttered Mommy’s name, and it sent shivers down my spine. The voice, deep and wobbly, was right outside our bedroom door. How did it know Mommy’s name? I wondered. Does it know my name? Will it get into the bedroom?

Mommy ignored it. She tried sleeping through it, but the monster kept calling her name. It wanted her to join him outside. I was afraid that she would. What if she did? Will she leave me here alone? I was glad that Mommy made no sign of wanting to leave, but I was still afraid.

I couldn’t imagine what the creature must’ve been like. I was afraid that it was hulking. I was afraid that it was covered in thick black hair. I was afraid it had sharp teeth and red eyes.

For the briefest moment, it stopped calling Mommy’s name. I was glad. And then I wasn’t.

It was calling my name. It was telling me that since Mommy wouldn’t go out, I should be the one to do so. I was terrified. Why does it want me to go out? Is it going to eat me? Why would it eat me? I haven’t been naughty. I do what my parents ask me to do, and I don’t complain about whatever on my plate is. Why does it want me?

I embraced Mommy tighter, and she did the same. She kissed my forehead, told me to stay in the room, and then left. Part of me wanted to go out with her, if only to not be alone, but I knew she was going to face the monster, and that scared me more than being alone.

She opened the door, letting the light from outside leak in, then closed the door. It was dark again.

Minutes passed, and I heard a plate breaking. I heard shouting. I heard something hit the wall. I was alone in the dark room, holding my pillow ever tighter, afraid of the monster Mommy had to face. I had to stop myself from crying because the monster might hear me. I did not know when I fell asleep.

When I opened my eyes, it was morning. Soft sunlight was shining down on me from the window, and I could hear a boy yelling, “Pandesal!” I rubbed the eye boogers away, and was still too sleepy to remember anything from the previous night.

When I opened the door and stepped out, Mommy was facing the stove. I could hear sizzling and smell the Spam. Rice and scrambled eggs were already on the table, still warm. Daddy was snoring like a beast in the sofa. He smelled like beer, and Mommy always told me I wasn’t allowed to drink beer because I was too young. I was curious, and I partially resented that.

Mommy turned to serve the Spam on the table. I was already seated for breakfast. I noticed Mommy had a black eye, like those boxers on TV. Her neck was red, too. She smiled at me. “Good morning.”

I suddenly remembered the previous evening. How a monster got in. I remembered something broke, and something hit the wall. Yet the house was clean and orderly. I remembered shouting. I guessed that Mommy had to fight off the monster while Daddy was gone. I opened my arms wide to give her a hug, and she knelt down to hug me back. It was warm and loving.

I was hesitant to do so, but I asked her anyway, “Why don’t we leave so that the monsters can’t find us?”

She gave me a cup of rice, an egg, and two slices of Spam. She didn’t say anything. I felt how bad of a question that was, but did not know why.

I was halfway through my breakfast when Mommy placed a mug of warm Milo on the table for me. “We don’t have to leave,” she said. “If your father stopped leaving at night, the monsters wouldn’t come anymore.”

I guessed that the monsters were too scared of Daddy. He was brave, after all. Like Batman. He said so. I wanted to be just like him.