Pauwi sa Ngiti para sa kaarawan ng aking mahal na ina
Nagpaalam ako sa iyo noon.
Noon, ang buo kong daigdig ay maipagkakasya
sa bakpak na bughaw na maong,
kabughawang lumalalim kapag napapatakan
ng ulan. Anim na taon ako, malamang.
Puno ng pagngangalit na simpula
ng kotseng laruan sa puso ng kamao,
pagtatampo na hinayaan mong
magpakawala ng malaalupihang salita.
Hindi ko alam kung natakot kang
makita akong lumabas ng tarangkahan.
Ilang hakbang na hindi man lamang
umabot sa tindahan ni Aleng Tinay
At napahinto ako. Inupuan ang bakpak
na pinabuntis ng mga laruan at damit
sa pagmamadali. Humangos ang mainit
na hangin, sinipa ang alikabok,
Salbaheng kalaro. Napuwing ako,
naluha nang di-sadya.
Halos bulag akong tumayo
at, kipkip ang bakpak,
Sinalat ang walang pintura
at magaspang na pader na kongkreto
pabalik sa tarangkahan.
Mumunti ang hakbang pauwi
Sa iyong nangangambang ngiti.
Kaarawan ngayon ng aking mahal na ina. Tinawagan ko siya. Himala at narinig niya ang aking pagbati. May mga araw na hindi sinlinaw ang linya ng telepono, o hindi sinlakas ang aking tinig, o kaya ay may kahinaan ang kanyang pandinig. Isang araw isasalin ko ito. Isang araw ako mismo ang magbibigay sa kanya ng kopya. Isang araw mababasa ko sa kanya ito. Sana. Sa ngayon, ikaw na mambabasa siguro ang mauuna pang makakabasa nito kaysa kanya. Ikaw na hindi umaruga sa akin, ikaw na baka hindi ko man lang kilala.
This will be a short one. Just a link to an open letter. Wikileaks has managed to do. Funny how in this case those who shout TERRORISTS! the loudest seem to have the bloodiest hands. A new brand of squirty handwash should be invented. Let’s call it Lady Macbeth, shall we?
Just to shout to the world… or whoever is out there… I put up a new blog for my forthcoming book of poetry in Filipino, Baha-bahagdang Karupukan. The text is in Filipino, but I will try to translate when I can.
Baha-bahagdang Karupukan roughly translates as “levels of fragility” – but that doesn’t capture the root word “hagdan” which means stairs, or, in this context, terrace.
This is what Jim’s wife said after I had placed an order for a 25 kg bag of dog food. She said Jim passed away on the 17th of “this month” – meaning November. Yes, I know it is the 2nd of December today, but death has a way of slowing time for those it touches.
I hadn’t spoken to Jim for a few months, but his wife told me in a previous conversation (over ordering dog food, again), that he was bedridden and would not take food. He just wanted to die.
Jim and I had a chuckle when we first met. It was obviously a funny line to say “Hi, Jim, I’m Jim! Nice to meet you.” For at least two years he delivered bags of dog food for our pets. And he genuinely wanted to know where I was from originally, and, having never left the borders of South Africa, he asked what it was like in my country. In September last year he heard about the terrible floods in Manila. I told him I was on my way there in a few days. He was truly concerned for my family, as if they were his own. When I returned from that trip he listened intently as I described what I had seen.
He mentioned he had cancer and was treated for it. He hated being sick, and was hopeful that he had gotten rid of the disease. But it came back with a vengeance. Early this year someone else had taken over the delivery.
I really didn’t know Jim very well. Didn’t even know his surname. All I know is that he was a very kind and soft spoken man. Easy to surrender a smile or a gentle laugh.