“Tuburan! Tuburan!” The bus conductor shouted as the bus paved way to the dusty bus terminal of Poblacion Tuburan.
Tuburan is a twin sister of obsolete.
“I’m home”, I thought bitterly. The sikad sikad drivers waited at the doorstep of the bus---eagerly waiting for the home comers to take their picks. And if they are luckily chosen, they will get three pesos for the whole ride.
“Asa man ta, Mam?” A shirtless cad, with a crooked smile humbly asked me---I simply ignored him.
I walked the short distance between the bus terminal and the habal habal’s to look for a driver that can bring me to Barangay San Juan, the so-called home of my childish dreams and silly ambitions.
“San Juan ta Noy,” I said to Noy Virgilio while positioning myself at the back of the motorcycle. He angled his face towards me and there, he recognized me.
“O Day Katrina! Sus, ninggwapa man ta! Nindut ang epekto sa siyudad Day, no?” Noy Virgilio exclaimed. He is a jolly short man with a bald head.
I just gave him a sly smile and maybe, he noticed that I don’t want to talk about my city life. For them I was Katrina, yet I am popularly known as Kate by my peers and colleagues at work.
We passed the same old river yet with a new bridge. It was already cemented. Excess of the pork barrel I guessed. A sign on the bridge said:
This is made possible through the help of Cong. Inatay G. Yawa
As I arrived at my Tatay’s house, it seemed that the people had some fun. Maybe they were happy in some way.
“Hoy Kat! Kumusta na?!?” My mother gladly hugged me yet it was apparent enough that she was in the pit of sadness.
“Gwapa gihapon, Ma.” I tried to joke and returned her hug. As we entered the house, the scent of the lighted candles welcomed me. There were some cute lavender ribbons which decorated the white cloth on the wall. There were bunch of colorful flowers with dedication in each. The one that caught my attention was:
For the loving memory of Nanay Pena… I love you, Nay.
From your apo,
It would be cool if changed into Woody Allen’s words:
"I do not believe in an afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear"
I just love how he plays with his characters---a film director, an actor and a writer. I really want to meet the guy. I wanted to have a magical cabinet of my own and meet him in flesh. I don't want to die though---being chased by tener felt like one. I doubt if Kugelmass didn’t feel the same.
But I doubt if my relatives know anything about Allen.
I diverted my gaze on the corner where my Tatay sat. I approached him and blessed at his hand to show some due respect.
“Niya Tay, asa man si Nanay?” I asked him.
“Ha? Tu-a sa Sogod,” he replied with a catch in his voice while pointing his finger at one corner. Senility is a good excuse for him not to feel the pang in his heart.
I smiled bitterly.
After a short while, the kababaryo crowded the lawn. Some played Majong and others preferred Tung-it and Chakicha. There were a lot of kids and some mourners, waiting for the distribution of popcorn, juice and coffee and some
Nang Kiling guffawed when she hit Tung-it. Noy Romy said, "Gi-atay!" when he lost 20 pesos for the nth time.
I was annoyed.
Inside the house, the katiguwangan talked about the prohibited daily rituals.
"Dili manilhig, dili maligo." Nay Ina enumerated. Her enumeration continued as I paced towards my Ate's room. I changed my clothes since they already smelled of stale sweat.
I went back to the sala.
"Hesusmariahusep!" Nay Suling exclaimed as she saw me. All eyes followed hers.
"Oy, Katrina, nalipay ka nga namatay ang imong Nanay?!" The remark of Nay Delping.
I was dumbfounded.
The laughter and the pisti-inatay from outside echoed in my mind. I hurriedly went back to the room and changed my shirt into something gray with a confused kitten on its front.
When morning came, I talked to my Mama.
"Gusto kong maligo." I told her.
"Dili pwede," she replied.
"Si Manang Jean man lagi, naligo." I argued.
"Lahi ang iyang tinuhu-an." She agitatedly replied. I didn't know if it is because my sister changed her religion or because of my persistence. Maybe both.
"Lahi sad ang akong tinuhu-an," I defended myself. She gave me a look that said, “One more and you'll see what you want."
I turned my back on her and went outside. There I saw, my Tiya Nasing, cleaning the mess of the other night with the use of the stick while inside, Inday Janeth, my elder sister cleaned the sala using a cloth.
I was more than annoyed.
Another night settled, the dim light from the bulbs gave an unholy atmosphere.
Endless murmurs filled the air.
"Amahan namo, pagdaygun ang imong ngalan, ma-abot kanamo ang imong ginghari-an, matuman..."
The act was out of compliance and not as ritual blessing the dead with God's words.
My eyes roamed around. I saw my cousin who like me is accustomed to urbanized life. She lightly banged her head while listening to her MP3, yet she never argued earlier when the katiguwangan prohibited such simple luxuries. She even nodded.
At the day of my Nanay's burial, the attention of the mourners was diverted towards me.
“Hala, nagpabadlong baya si Katrina! Naligo sa lubong sa iyang apuhan” An old man said.
“Mao nay mahitabo kung magpuyo ka sa siyudad.”
I held my head high. I just came out of nowhere. I didn’t go with them in the church for the blessing or a mass for the culprit.
“Hoy, Kat! Kagon gyud ka ni Mama!” said my Uncle.
“Si Katrina baya…” My Aunt frowned.
I wanted to yell at them but I held myself. I portrayed a poker face through-out the short walk towards the Nanay’s soon-to-be tomb.
And as Nanay's coffin was slowly swallowed by the earth, my Mama’s tears, the mourner’s, the water dripping from my hair fell into the soil, buried with her.