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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rainy Days and Memories Part II

This is the continuation of the post Rainy Days and Memories.

The picture looks fresh from how I conjure the actualities in my thoughts...

The transistor radio is always on. While watching my mom doing our neighbors' laundry, her ears are too focused on the radio drama that she has been regularly listening to. After the drama, she turns off the radio leaving some soapy water on the knob.

"We have to conserve the batteries because the news said that there is a coming storm tonight." I look at the skies and the sunshine has been so selfish all day, it had been within the past days, cloudy skies, and cool weather, giving me some goose bumps everytime a splash of water kisses my skin. My mom is menially brushing the dirty clothes on a backboard made of a slab of wood.

I quickly get up from where I am seated. "Hey, where are you going?" Go get twenty pesos from my sweater's pocket in the room. It's almost lunch time. Buy a kilo of rice and a small can of sardines," my mom says. (That's about fifty cents these days)I get inside the house and go to my parents's room walking past the empty table in the kitchen. While taking out the money from my moms pocket, I can't help but realize the poverty that my family has been into. "Why can't we afford to buy a sack of rice that will last for several weeks so I and my brothers don't have to go the variety store every now and then for a kilo of rice and a can of sardines?"

Glad there is something for some fish, I have been sick and tired of eating plain rice mashed with some soy sauce and lard. I pretty much enjoy it though, particularly on a very cold weather. I just noticed that I enjoy eating whatever is served on the table when it's cold while hearing the lashing storm outside and the whipping on the galvanized walls and roof on our house of the bamboos in the backyard. Yes, and the bamboos are a great provider, my dad would get some shoots and my mom would gladly boil them and saute in oil, ginger, and garlic. If there is more, my dad would ask my older brother to sell them to the neighbors so we could buy more rice and sustain ourselves for the next few days.

I just fold the bill in my palm and hold it tightly as I get out of the room. I must have developed a phobia once I placed the money in my pocket which was supposed to buy as a meal and lost it somewhere. I had gotten the umpteenth corporal punishment from my dad because of the incident. On my way out of the house, I glance at the dirty kitchen extremely located on my right. I see my dad boiling some water for some cups of coffee to sustain his addiction and basically the entire family's addiction to it. While teary eyed and dingy because of the smoke coming from the woods, he occupies himself stacking chopped woods above the fireplace. Oh, we can't afford to have a gas stove yet. Even a single burner must be a dream for us for the time being.

He piles the wet pieces of wood just above the hearth where he made up a hanging shelf intended for them. He is always in a haste to free them from moisture. Momentarily, he sees me and asks the same question my mom had earlier for me. "Buy me a few sticks of cigarettes if there's any change," he adds. I hate the idea knowing how dirt poor we are but I have no choice. I sulkily leave the place.

My dad is deprived of any jobs during inexorable weather, and so is my older brother waiting for the sunshine to peek out of the sky soon so he could display his horse for horseback riding at a nearby park. That means money if he gets tourists ride on his horse for an hour or so. I have always looked up to him as a brother who always displayed so much concern for the entire family and who at a young age learned how to work not only for his own but for several mouths to feed at home.

Around one to two times a day during the rainy days, he wears his old raincoat which already looks like a trash, socks a pair of plastic bags on his feet and wears his leaky rubber footwear given by my dad. He leaves the house, takes an empty sack from the stable outside, a scythe and braves the storm to get some grass for the animal.

After lunch, my older brother comes home. I knew it was dangerous for him to have gone out of the house. I may not show him my concerns but I am glad he is safe. Much to my delight and my younger brothers', he takes home with him fallen off pomelos, wild passion fruit, avocados, and chayotes he picked up around the neighborhood. We sumptuously fare on them while our parents enjoy a nap in their room. We play some little games inside the house since there is no TV set to entertain ourselves. If ever there were, the power outage would always be a problem. The only thing ran by electricity at home is the single bulb located in the small living room between the only two bedrooms in the house. We get tired after some time, and proceed to our room opposite our parents'. The house becomes quiet as we snuggle in the cushionless bed just before dusk comes. I close my eyes, whisper a prayer hoping that God provides us another kilo of rice when the night comes.

"Hey, I thought you have a class at 5:30 p.m." Lisa, the cafeteria owner said. I came to my senses, rushed up to my station and clicked on the video icon on the messenger menu while anxiously thinking of my family back home. "Oh, it's rainy days again and I have to work doubly hard."

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paisley said...

by all accounts,, you are a wonderful son, brother, and human being in general.. i am so glad to know you,, and have this little window into your world.....

Lianne said...

I never went through the kinds of difficulties that you describe here. Honestly, I hope I never do, because I'm not sure I would have the strength you and your family obviously did/do to keep on fighting each day. Reading your story is good for me, especially when I start to grumble and complain about my problems...which all seem so petty in comparison. Thank you for sharing. :)


A wonderful essay, my friend, and the way you ended it put the perfect cap on it. How resilient children are! Your life unfolds in your posts. They are never predictable.

Nick Phillips, MY said...

I don't think I could ever imagine the hardships you went through. My parents weren't rich people when I was growing up but they somehow managed to give me a comfortable life and I do think you're a pretty strong, confident and resourceful lad! wonderful post.