Sunday, 15 November 2020

My Sister's Story

(My sister, Minx, gave me this copy of her story as her gift to me in remembrance of our mother. I am sharing this, with her permission.)

The fire trees were on their last blooms. Their crowns are aglow with flame-like blossoms not unlike the dying embers of campfires. The golden shower tree swayed in the wind. Its grapelike cluster hung like droplets of golden sunshine.

She was looking thru the window as she folded my sister's clothes. Staring in fact yet oblivious to the explosion of colors gifted by the trees she has planted and tended from seed.

"Do you know where she went?" My mother's voice was reeking with sadness.

"No, I have no idea."

"We have to search for her."

I let out a deep sigh for I could foretell what our arduous search would entail. I have seen it before. Parents, brothers, sisters, lovers of friends who are missing. 

First, the police stations - have you picked up anybody violating the curfew? Then we make the trek to the Office of the Task Force Detainees - any new faces at Bicutan or Pag-Asa or any of the myriad of political prisoner camps strewn around the city? Next, the convents-the nuns are very active in hiding people wanted by the government. And finally, the morgues, to look lor salvaging victims left by the waysides for the flies to feast on, dead hollow eyes unseeing the violence that was visited upon them.

Nanay's usually ramrod straight back, was slightly slumped, carrying an unseen burden. She started to quietly mouthing the mysteries of an imaginary rosary.  Imaginary, for rosaries as well as crosses, saints Statues, and prayer books are banned in our household. Though she was born to a very old Catholic family, she married my father.  His family was one of the original members of the indigenous Protestant religion in the country. And to marry a member you have to give up your own religion and convert.

"Of course, there will be changes. Your sister, she has always disapproved of our Christmas parties..."

"Nanay. are you happy?" I once asked.

"I can't recall ever hearing you laugh. "

She gave me the look. The look that seems to say,

'Here you go again, thinking too deeply, analyzing things best left alone.' 

"Laughing out loud is like tempting fate. What is important is being at peace."

She has seen so much and experienced a lot. She grew up as one of the daughters of a political clan in the North and violence has peppered her family's history. An uncle was assassinated as he received the holy communion in Church.  In retaliation, a cousin burned down a whole village. The cries of widows and children left homeless can still be heard in the winds as you pass by Bantay.

She headed to Manila away from the violence never to return in more than 30 years. Her list of changes sounded like incantations, peace offerings to the gods. As if saying, I am willing to make changes, do all these just so I can have my daughter back.

"DO you think she will return?"

I dared not answer. All I have are useless, empty words. They hold no hope.

"Where should we start?" Her hands tentatively touching a lone hanging thread on my sister's shirt,  afraid that a slight pull might unravel my sister's whole existence.

Friday, 13 November 2020

Our Labrador, Basha!


Basha is our one-year-old black labrador, our "gentle giant" who is the youngest among our pets, including our German shepherd and our toy poodle. We brought her home a day before the New Year from her mom's place in BGC, Taguig. We named her Basha, a name I picked from the lead actor's character in the movie "One More Chance."

Labradors like Basha are highly energetic with an enormous appetite.  She enjoys a breakfast of eggs mixed with coconut oil. Coconut oil is a treat for her. Since she is hefty, she needs her exercise. Her morning routine starts in waking up at around 6 am. She'll immediately head to the door to go outside and play with our German shepherd, who treats her like her naughty puppy. She likes to play with her small "pond," a teal-colored plastic basin we bought for her, which we fill up with water for her to swim on.

She is gentle and very friendly to people. She is smart but quite goofy. She enjoys a game of fetch with all of us in the family. She'll bring us her rope toy or her stuffed toy, "Brown," which we then throw afar for her to pick and bring back to us. She would come to me in my work area, put her paw in my lap, looked at me with her big almond-shaped eyes to get my attention. Then she'll ask me for a cuddle where she'll try to go up to lay down in my lap.

Having Basha around made me aware of just how wonderful it is to seize the moment, spend time with loved ones, and snuggle with such a caring, huggable, and playful labrador. 

I just learned that Basha's mom and sibling are now in Ontario, enjoying autumn. I'm glad that they're doing great with their own family, much like Basha.
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