(nakita ko nakasaulat sa likod ng mga pina-xerox na handouts nung college ako..second year ako nun malamang kasi meron 'fireplace'... natatawa ako kc dami wrong grammar... hahaha...)
The heat from the fireplace is not enough to protect me from the biting cold. Yes, the fire gives me warmth but there is something the fire cannot give. Warmth that only the person 100 kilometers away from Baguio can give.
Nais kong maulit ang dati kong araw,
Nang munti pang bata, sa piling ni nanay…
I remember my mother in in days like these, days when rain pours the whole week almost without ceasing. For her, rainy days are hard days for it means sleepless nights. She has to stay awake all night to empty the pails, casseroles, basins, big bowls and other can contain anythings. So my mother hangs plastics to catch those extra drippings.
I know how hard, tiring and exhausting what my mother is doing because I help her during Fridays. I have to keep watch everything and empty the pails, casseroles, basins, big bowls, hanged plastics and can contain anythings. I also have to squeeze out the water and mud from the rugs. I have to do these while my mother sleeps for an hour or two. But sometimes, I will let her sleep for the whole night so I will take the responsibility of keeping the house dry until morning. At my young age, I didn’t know that that getting a below average height will be a consequence of those sleepless nights. All I know is that I would not be able to watch the Saturday cartoons on TV the following day. Actually its okay for me because in my mind, God sees my helfulness so He will reward me by ordering the tv stations to air again the episodes I missed. And most of the time, the tv stations did air the episodes I missed. That is my concept of divine intervention when I was a kid.
Those Friday nights were the longest nights of my life. Add the words “most boring” when there are brownouts. I was not able to play my favorite classical music and torture my mind listening to my mother’s loud and annoying snoring. So to protect my head from exploding, I busy myself in burning old newspapers and kill the ants crawling on the wall. Poor ants..
There was a Saturday morning that my mother reprimanded me. She was very angry for not waking her up the previous night. At first, I cant understand why she is so angry. I just wanted her to have a good rest. But later, I realized that she is just concern at me, more concern than I am concern of her.
There was a time that the rain poured non-stop for almost 2 weeks. I need to accompany my mother in her vigil even though its not Friday. There was a particular night that I have to go out to make a dike so that the water will flow out from the backyard. I was soaked in the rain in that very cold night. The darkness was also straining my eyes. I can barely see the earth I am digging. But I can feel it in my feet that the water level is already above the ankle. Anytime, the water will flow into the house. So I used all of my strength to make a dike as soon as possible… but my weak body surrendered before I finished the dike.
I sat and lean my back on the wall opposite to where the wind is blowing to take some rest. Unconsciously, I threw the shovel. I heard a splash and saw it sank in the water when the lightning stroked from the sky. I was alerted because the water will flow into the house anytime if I will not finish the dike. My mother was also relying on me and I do not want all her efforts in keeping the house dry turn into vain. So with all of my remaining strength I picked up the shovel and finished the dike.
After finishing the dike, I felt so dizzy and cold that I have to use the shovel to keep my balance. I walked into the door, knocked and asked my mother for a towel and dry clothes. The door opened in no time and my mother gently pulled me inside the house.
“Close the door immediately,” she said while handing me the towel and dry clothes.
I noticed that she is holding a wire. “What are you going to do with that wire?” I asked.
“I will use it for reinforcing the roof,” my mother answered.
“How about the kerosene lamp, why are you not using it?”
“The lamp is already empty.”
Then I heard fast thugs from my mother’s feet. Maybe she realized that she has to reinforce the roof immediately or else the strong wind will carry it over to our neighbor’s backyard. I want to help her but my strength is not enough even to stand. I changed my clothes and said goodnight to my mother but I never heard a response. It is either she is too preoccupied in fastening the roof or was too weak to pronounce the words I want to hear.
My bed is now calling me. I feel like I was hypnotized and the order is to lie on my bed. Going to bed is easy even without lights because I know the house so well. I can go to bed without bumping to anything because I know where is everything… But I was wrong. Going to bed is like a thousand years of journey…
I heard a clang before my foot landed for the first step. I remember that the pails, casseroles, basins, big bowls, hanged plastics and other can-contain-anything are all around. Worse, my head is like a heavy ball attached to my neck…I feel so cold and my whole body is shivering. My knees can’t carry my body so I crawled going to bed. It was the longest and the most grueling trip in my entire life.
Sa aking pagtulog na labis ang himbing,
Ang bantay ko’y tala, and tanod ko’y bituin..
I was very tired but I can’t sleep. My whole body is shivering in cold. The blanket was not enough to warm me so I pulled another blanket. I’m sure it was my father’s blanket because it smells like him. He always smells like this, smell of perspiration dried in his skin. After I exerted a great effort to cover my body, I felt frustrated. The cold is still biting me and its fangs are penetrating my bones. But later, I realized the cold is coming from inside my body. The sound of the rain on the roof was also torturing me. It seems like it is expanding my brain. But I need to endure the noise to be able to sleep. I conditioned my mind that the fast and loud tick-tacks on the roof was Beethoven’s opus. And it worked! It was beautiful… very pleasant…I imagined myself living centuries ago and was watching and listening to Beethoven playing the piano! And with my mind relaxed, I was able to sleep… for some minutes.
It was not a concluding note to Beethoven’s concert piece. It was our roof sheet blown away by the strong wind.
“God help us,” I heard my mother cried. “I am already tired and nothing more to give. Please pour all the rain now and let all the wind blow tonight. I want to sleep now and please give us a good weather tomorrow.”
Then I heard my mother’s loud sob. Her cry was echoing in the house. It seems like I was also feeling the pain she is feeling because tears flowed my eyes. I heard my heart beat faster and stronger. My soul is commanding me to comfort her. I tried but I can’t move from bed. I also tried to say comforting words but only air came out of my mouth, making a soft “oooohh.”
I think my mother heard the faint sound I made because I heard the soft and slow thugs of her bare foot on the cement floor. I was never surprised because mothers have the ability to feel if their sons and daughters are in pain.
“Sleep now Buboy.” My mother said softly. “Everything will be fine tomorrow.”
“I can’t,”at last I pronounced some words.
“You have to sleep. You will not be able to listen to your favorite music or watch TV tomorrow if you will not sleep tonight.”
“I feel so cold and the noise that the raindrops on the roof…,” I was not able to finish my sentence so I covered my ears with my hands to express to my mother that the noise on the roof wont make me sleep.
“Okay, let us imagine that the rain on the roof is Beethoven playing the piano. Let us listen together as we catch our sleep,” my mother suggested while enclosing me in her arms.
I felt the warmth of her body flowing in me. It was very comforting…very caring… It was one of the greatest moments in my life in spite of what happened. It is also memorable because we listen together to Beethoven’s music with her arms around me… very memorable concert that every classical music lover will envy. Again my tears flowed from my eyes.
Sa piling ni nanay, langit ang buhay…
At my young age, I learned and was convinced that God is not a fairytale character. I was convinced that there is a God who heard and answered my mother’s prayer because the day after the night full of anguish was a fair day. I also feel good that day and was able to play with my cousins. The last thing I can remember in that day was my mother’s smiling eyes that followed as I leave the backyard. Those eyes were so calm, full of joy and saying something. How I wish at that time that I have the ability to read my mother’s mind. I am not sure but most probably it means “Thank you God for protecting us last night” or simply “Thank you God.”
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig habang ako’y nasa duyan.