Friday, May 2, 2014

the storyteller - a repost

my name is lucia.
i turned eighty-three last january. my husband is juan. he will also be eighty-three come march 27. at this age you may think i am already bedridden but no. i could still walk, attend mass and do chores among other things. we have eight children - two sons and six daughters. so far we have twenty-one grandchildren and one great grandchild. i could no longer remember all their names but i know their faces.

juan and i spent most of our lives in a barrio called salvacion, some three kilometers away from the main highway, in the municipality of polangui, province of albay. nowadays the road to our house is very accessible due to tricycles, motorcycles and occasional jeepneys. thanks to politicians, the rocky, dirty and dust-filled road is now cemented. a new term would mean a few meters of paved road.

my day usually starts at three in the morning. i would wake up and ask my husband where we spent the night because i felt it wasn't our house. juan would answer that it's our eldest daughter's house. we call her nene. then i would immediately ask him when will we go home to polangui. he would answer "tomorrow if we have the money for the bus fare". contented with his answer, i fix myself and wait for breakfast.

nene wakes up at around five for her morning walk. she attends to me and her father before she walks at the nearby memorial park. she tells me what day it is and if there is a special occasion. if it's friday she would add that her children will come home from manila for the weekend. after a breakfast of noodles, pan-de-sal and milk, i go out to sweep while juan waters the plants.

i then spend the rest of the morning packing my things just in case juan decides to go home. at around ten baby, my youngest daughter would invite me to take a bath. which would make me lose my mood. even if she tells me that i will smell good and feel fresh, i hate taking a bath. no need to feel fresh all the time; and besides, i always smell good. i tell them that if i will take a bath, i will die soon and i will feel weak but they won't listen. there are times when i give in to their request so i take a bath every two or three days.

from time to time i look for juan thinking that he is somewhere with his other girl. i would then be at ease when i see him taking a nap. usually i take morning naps too.

lunch at twelve noon or after bathing. nene loves watching television especially that one with the host giving money to poor people with sexy girls dancing like crazy. so i also get to watch television until i fall into a slumber.

baby would wake me up for merienda. at around four in the afternoon nene would hear mass at the parish church. as much as she would want me to accompany her, she fears that i will wander off when she is hearing confession. she tells me to wait for her children who will arrive soon.

dinner during weekdays is at six in the evening which is earlier than the usual family dinner. after an hour or so, nene's son will arrive. he would greet us with the usual mano and kiss on the cheek. as he unpacks his things, he hands me a pasalubong. my favorite - cheeseburger. i would eat it after we pray the rosary which at first i thought they recited in latin but they told me it is english.

this son of nene is very touchy. he loves to hug and kiss me. he also smiles a lot. he listens to my stories like a kid who attentively listens to a storyteller. i could not tell if he understands my stories because i speak in my vernacular tongue but it matters not. at least i have an audience. anyway this particular grandson of mine has my husband's nose. at the end of my story he would nod and smile even more.

more than once i heard my grandson relate a story to his mother. with his thunderous voice i could not help but see for myself what was happening for i thought he was angry. of course he wasn't. he is just like me - a storyteller.

i often ask my grandson when will he introduce his girlfriend to me. a number of times i advised him to go out and meet young girls. funny because juan and i did not allow nene to go out most of the time but here i am telling her son to attend social dances and parties. whenever i ask him about getting married, he would only smile and tell me that if he gets married, i won't be receiving cheeseburgers every weekend. i know he is kidding me because i am already old.

one day nene told me that the tilapia in the fish pond are now ready to be harvested. i made haste to the pond with my fishing rod. it was pouring but no rain would stop me. i then heard someone call me. i looked back and saw my grandson. he had a bigger umbrella with him. with a smile he told me that i will get wet if i go fishing so it will be better if we wait until the rain has stopped.

i waved my hand and answered that if he doesn't want to accompany me then he better go home. to my surprise he took my shovel and started digging for worms. he handed me a bunch of juicy earthworms perfect for fishing.

the next hour was pure fun as we caught big tilapia one after the other. the fish were really biting so to speak. we had to stop when the timba was already overflowing. juan came late so i instructed him to clean the fish.

i expected that i will eat tilapia for lunch and i did. nene remarked about the size of the tilapia. her son, the one who helped me was also there. i then asked nene for his name. nene told her son to introduce himself.

lola, my name is paci. i am your grandson, he answered.