I am homesick for the reek of carabao* dung drying under the sun.
I have come to the point where I now know how it is for paralytics when
they get to feel flashes of heat and cold at the sight
of icicles or kettle merrily singing in singeing heat
I now get flashes of the taste and smell
of damnably sour crunchy unripened mangoes that only my home islands can grow.
I am homesick for the reek of carabao dung drying under the sun,
the one that we non-farmers harvest from the ground to take home to our
little plots of tomatoes and eggplants, to make the soil fat,
to make the fruits fat, to make us kids fat…
I feel homesick for the reek of caked mud cracking under the sun,
gray mud turned powdery white plastered on the burnt brown that is
my grandfather’s merrily laughing toothless friend’s skin, who
couldn’t hear very well the guffaws my Lolo would bring
whenever we take time from our little garden of okras and cotton and
come visit him in his tiny tiny
nipa hut stuck in the middle of the flatness of the land he tills
that is not his. On weekends and on school vacations.
When it was a clear day with a slight cooling wind.
When the rice fields were swaying green, anticipating grains,
or, already stalk-brown, a silent witness to muted gain…
His name was Lolo Cente, if I remember it right, and mine is Lolo Jose,
the Jose of Jose Rizal, but who is simply “Lolo” to me,
and who, unlike that Jose who is Rizal, this Lolo-to-me quit school when he was 7
because he’d rather ride the back of his carabaos and
play with them, out of the mud, through the streams, far far away from the school yard,
away from where his teacher and mom could catch and drag him back.
A bit of a truant. A bit like Juan Tamad, who wanted to take it easy all day,
,though, my Lolo-to-me was no slacker, no stranger to the singe of the burning sun,
and he, like Lolo Cente, was toothless, too, by only 2 teeth, but unlike
Lolo Cente, Lolo could hear even a whisper until
Death peacefully whispered to him at 102. What a life he had.
That was about 3 times of the Jose’s who is Rizal…
I am so so homesick of the smell of parched soil reeking under a
sudden sprinkling of serious rain, of the kind that will soak your hanging laundry in a
matter of seconds, the kind that will create little oceans and lakes on
imperceptible indentations here and there along the earth road,
the kind of rain that will wedge minute waterfalls and waterways against the edge
of miniature hills and mountains at the sides of the banked ground that is the
foundation of our wooden house, the one where I spent my infancy in,
the one where I first realized that adults aren’t so wise after all
when I was only less than 2 and they had me holding my baby brother so that
they could get a picture of us together,
back when Kodak means kodak, means photograph, means to photograph.
That photograph of me intensely holding on to my reclining position,
at one end of the, then-popular, plain hardwood sofa, so as
not to drop my body and my baby brother, tight in my arms, still exists, back home.
…these words here are just memory lane gone cruising…
…the less-of-a-second-long flash of the taste of one’s home’s dishes and fruits at
the back of one’s nostrils that is somewhere inside one’s skull
does funny things, indeed, to the rest of the brain…
I have used-coffee grounds strewn over my indoor pots’ soil, the ones where I had
grass-like houseplants stuck onto, my oxygen providers, here, inside,
where no slight wind sways them from side to side.
[4March2014, 8pm, in about 30 minutes]
carabao = water buffalo, nicknamed the farmer’s best friend because it’s the muscle in traditional farming
nipa hut = traditional house generally of bamboo and where the roof is of thatched leaves of the nipa palm (Nypa fruticans)
Lolo = grandfather; the general address for the elderly male
Cente = short and informal for the name Vicente
Jose Rizal = the Philippines’ National Hero; author and medical doctor in late 19th century; studied in Manila, Paris, Madrid, and Heidelberg; martyred at 35
Juan Tamad = in folklore, he was a lazy lad who couldn’t be trusted to get things done; Juan is Spanish for John; tamad is Tagalog/Filipino for lazy
!muchas gracias to the owners of the photos I have here ♥