The Bentilador was set to high. Windows widely open. The curtains are barely moving. She doesn’t need a blanket for it is March, the beginning of the hot summer which last for two months. For three nights now, the Land Lady barely slept. The skin around her eyes is dark, like wearing a makeup at night. Sobering sounds prevented her for sleeping soundly and it is driving her mad. Because of her lack of sleep, she works inefficiently. Every mistake she makes just worsen the madness. Hot headed and over fatigue, she speaks less and less. Tonight she has a plan. And she is determined to keep the voices away. Voices which irritates her, like a mosquito buzzing on her ears. She stared at the monitor on her desk for the whole day. Her colleagues were astounded. The arm strikes five. She headed to the high way for a ride. She stares at the window of the bus. Her brain is busy. She doesn’t know what’s happening around her. She even paid the fare even though the conductor didn’t give her the ticket. Forty Five minutes had passed. EDSA is packed with power hungry traffic enforcers and speedy drivers. She got off the bus, took the elevated walkway to her street. The street was a typical metro community. With wet stalls at the corners selling everything from barbecues to food for those who are lazy to cook their supper. Tricycles begging her to ride in. But she hesitate, her house is just a stone throw away from the corner. She walks her street and her neighbors greeted her, but she can’t hear them. And her kumare was overwhelmed. She changed rapidly over the course of four days. She even curses now. And she was a devout catholic. Always attending church services during Sunday’s, where you can recognized her for she always wear only one color for the day, from head to toe. Even her umbrella should be the same color as her dress. She opened the gate. Forgot to closes it, and sat on the couch and just like every worker who returned home, she took a deep breath and said “at last, I’ am home”.
She was born at the height of the Vietnam War, during the time where Bob Dylan would sing Blowin in the Wind. During the time where the love bus and smoking pot was not an issue, for the bearded long hairs are abound. During the time where they called him Lyndon “Fucking” Johnson. And during the time Forrest rescued Lt. Dan from a napalm bombing. But she just looked like at her middle age. With no signs of wrinkles on her face. Her lips are cherry red with no lipstick. She didn’t have a family. She was the only child. Her parents left her the apartment which was erected when she was at grade school. She didn’t have a special friend during high school. Her folks died when she was in College. The apartment certainly helped her paid the dues, for she was alone. She has no real friends. Her kumare is two tongued. Her hair is fashioned like Ate Vi’s. She knows how to drive but don’t like the idea of driving to work. And EDSA is cramped. She cooks her own food. She eats alone at her long dining table which can feed at least ten. She shops at weekends. She has lots of extra money even if the borders are “makunat” when it comes to paying the rent. She likes lavender. She has no pets.
That night she cooked her favorite Tinola. With ripe papaya and a bit of horse radish leaves. Again, just like every time she ate, she lay’s the plate, spoon and fork on the right side, a small bowl for the piping hot soup, and a plate with rice. She doesn’t forget to say grace each and every time. She ate slowly, trying to hear the weep on her house. Like a spy using a stethoscope at the door. But it was quiet as a tomb on the house. Only the sound of spoon clinging on the plate. After her dinner, she took a quick hot bath and lied down. With pillow as the only companion she watched her favorite prime time soap opera which features the hottest teen love team today. She can feel that she was the main girl. She maybe old but she feels like a teenager. She followed every episode for the last five months, its gets quite boring sometimes. But she enjoys it. She was about to repose when she heard the sound. “AHA! That’s it!” she jolted. Like a cirque on the trapeze, she did a happy maneuver. Like a kid given with a present for her birthday. Wearing the devil’s smile, she took the torch and set out to the storage. It is full of boxes with her personal stuffs. Full of dust and darkness. With images of saints and gods hanging or plastered on the wall. Uncovering each and every box on the room, she has to end this tonight. “Fuck it! This is your last day!” she exclaimed.
At the dark corner she catches a low weep. “There you are! You little grommets!” At last, she found them. Like Arthur Evans uncovering the tomb of Tut. Like a sprinter, she moves toward the kitchen for a plastic bag. Of which she has many. She grabs that shopping bag of the mall which always greeted her at weekends. “One…two…three…” one by one she deposited them at the bag. “I need to recheck the spot, just to make sure no one gets left behind, and I have to be quick before Mother returns!” She took a quick glance at the spot. “Alright, that’s it” Acting like a villain, she left the room with a work well done. She was at the door, ready to get out of the house when it suddenly rain. It was summer and it rained, as if the god she worships is preventing her for continuing this deed.
Under the cover of an umbrella and walking towards the river by the sidewalk, the balut vendor noticed her. He is the “suki” of the land lady. He offered the Land Lady some, but the Lady just walks towards her success. She reached the sidewalk by the filthy river. “This is it” and she threw the plastic bag on the river’s side which is also serves as the trash pit of the whole baranggay. A success indeed. The gods shall forgive her at Sunday. She shall pray with knees bent to the ground, where the foam lies for that it won’t hurt. That is what she believes. She shall offer prayers and with every bead of her necklace, god shall forgive her. Just as the rain started abruptly, it also halts in an instant, just like the noodles the security guard enjoys when the Land Lady passed. “Please give me one” she stated to the balut guy. “You look happy” he replied. “Yes I’ am happy, for god always bless me, we may done something wrong or unlawful to him, but I’ am very sure that when you go to church, he shall forgive you. Right? ” The vendor just grin, she didn’t understand the Lady. The vendor was a non catholic. But he goes to church for two times a week. He may be poor but he has all the blessings his god can give him. For he only ask for the right amount. Walking towards home, the Land Lady can now sleep quietly after she’s done with her balut and a bottle of cold beer. A celebration for her freedom. The freedom to sleep well and tight, that is what city dwellers always want. The quietness of a city which is very unyielding. And the fireflies have gone out of the city. And she slept.
It was the wee hours of morning, party goers are on their way home. Workers are on their way to the factories which gave them extra pay for working on Sunday. The balut vendor pedals his mobile store. For he shall attend the early morning church service. By the river he hears a sober. He stopped and got down at the trash bin of the baranggay. It was three a few hours ago. But the river swelled because of the rain, and it might swallowed the two. “Uh oh, another creature had taken the toll of ignorance” he exclaimed, with tears nearing down on his eyes he got out, put the found object on his balut basket which is still a bit hot. And pedaled home. He lives at the other side of the river, in a housing project by a TV station. He can’t afford an apartment so they just lived by the river during the late 90s. With rising profits and an act for humanity, the local TV stations decided to give the city dwellers a righteous space, a bit far from the river where they shall not smell the filth of the water. His house is small, with all the basic needs of a full grown family, it was also colorful. Houses where inches apart. With house plants on the entrance. He quickly wrapped the newly found object in cheese cloth. It insulates heat well, because what he had just found was soaked for hours in the filthy river. It was a month old he guessed. He does not like the idea of this. Almost all city dwellers hated them. So they all do the same thing, wrap them in plastic and leave them somewhere where it should slowly die from the coldness of their heart. No one shall hear the cry. And if they did, they don’t want. They just don’t care. Hours had passed, it wept. He tried to give it some food. It moved a bit at first. Like a toy with run out batteries. Then it ate. Eyes shall open; it was blue, and hazy. The object shakes. It trembles. The object sleeps in a box, with insulation like that only a mother can give. Like we do when it is raining at night, we uncurl on our blankets. It gives us heat. He was amazed that it ate all of it. It must be hungry! And he shall ask his Lord to let the object live. He shall go to church now, he’ll be back later. He wears his Sundays best. A long sleeves polo. A nice pair of pants. And a polished black shoes. He walks to church. And the creature shall sleep.
Weeks shall pass and the object shall grow big. And the balut vendor and the object shall sleep. He named her Bindi. Sometimes in the creature’s dream, she can hear her mother trying to find them. A faithful weep their mother has. But she won’t see them anymore. And by her dreams she shall hear her sound… “Meow…”

1 comment:

Christine said...

i wonder what this is about..