On the 25th Sunday, the 3rd month of the year, the breaking of the breeze comforted the whole season. The sun was so brilliant engulfed throughout the day, while the chirping of the birds sounded melodiously. They flew here and there, catching each other like lovers missed from hugs and kisses. They were played by the wind blows, swaying their wings against the air, chasing until they found their refuge and rested. Under the monstrous tree they were on, there was a nipa hat, a native, beautifully designed by hands. It was made up of good Nara, a lumber where drawn on it, the lines of the old ways. It was surrounded by the grassy ground but viable to anybody who would like to rest from a journey. But one could ask: was there anybody around that small house? If there was, then who would that someone be?
At 3:00 o clock on that same day, I was on my way home. I walked cautiously as my feet were forceless stepping on the ground. In a far away distance, I saw an old wrinkled woman similarly exhausted as I was, as if losing her breaths. She was panting while her eyes focused to mine. I did not hesitate to come over her to ask where she might be coming from. She dropped down her sungkod without answering my question. The woman collapsed. So, I looked somewhere else but nobody could have been there.
“Water…water..” I clutched my bag, but empty inside.
I promptly checked the womans wrist. I felt her pulse slowly beating. I was gasping, continuously gasping at the same time troubled to what happened. I shrieked for help but nobody answered my calling. I desperately called for the second time, but my voice only echoed around the space unknown.
After a long wait, I heard groaning. My nap was over. Beside me, I noticed womans fingertips slowly moving. She moaned as if wanted to say something. Her voice was not that clear. I could only figure out simultaneous moaning. Until at 5:30, she became conscious.
She wanted to move freely but her body remained tired. I helped her up so that I could ask her the same question. But I found myself speechless. My words did not matter at all.
As time lapsed, we altogether stood up after we gained some strength to walk on. We started pacing forward across the way I did not even familiar. We only walked without talking each other. So mysterious on my part, I went along the person I didnt know so well. So we headed through the forest without saying anything what really happened. All I should do was to follow what she was leading for.
All of a sudden, she stopped. She extended her right hand pointing toward identical portals. At first, the doors were all similar but when I walked closer to them, they were different. One was rectangular with images carved on by a genius sculptor I thought. I saw on it the vastness of the world; the people living on it; the things with them, the temporal happiness; the humanly desires that nobody could dictate when to use them.
While seeing those images, I felt frustrated. I felt like a reflection to what I saw. Others have been disappearing while others aggressively becoming like the sprouting leaves. There were those who had lost their hopes but many still hoping to be fortunate enough whatever the risk would be. There were people who dealt lives following their own desires and pleasures, but others became slaves, until only could find comfort at death.
“Why all of these things happened?” I asked the woman beside me. No answer but instead she led the other door.
The next doorway was still not even common. Maybe quite sometimes I saw it already on the movie, but why should that be like burning fires, blazing all throughout the entrance?
“I should have found another way, not like this!” I looked at myself now complaining.
A few minute after, the woman next to me got inside the door. I wondered she didnt feel anything painful or harm after crossing the flames. Then, she signalled me to follow her but my body against my mind. She swayed again and I saw her eyes shimmering, focused to mine like the time we first encountered each other. I saw in her hand the gestures of certainty that nothing should be afraid of. This time, I must have to decide or else I would be left alone. So I started closing my eyes like a child helplessly listening to a motherly sermon. I suddenly pursue the flames that I thought painful but was not. There I reckoned everything no feelings as if nothing had happened, only that beyond what I had expected. The sense of fear vanished ironically like I felt before.
While everything was amazing and wonderful, the woman sought another unusual. Under the heavy creek, there was an alibangbang bitten by a gruesome monstrous bao. The helpless creature wanted to escape out but I guessed nobody could dare to rescue the butterflys misfortune. At a wink of my eyes, it was totally swallowed and instantly chewed and digested. The hideous turtle right away noticed us, but unknowingly overcome by sleep.
My eyes glued into the sleeping bao. I could not let it happened. I wanted it to be justified. The helpless being should not be treated like that way. It had life, breathing as to live, breathing as to fly once again- so unfortunate fellow.
But my journey had not its ending. I had to pace once more, accompanied by someone I didnt know.
My legs were losing their strength to walk. Ahead of me, still the woman carrying without burdens. She was as if on foot on the clouds, while, I, was desperately disturbed by the spotted dimensional rocks. My cohort toes were tightly closed, forcedly making another step forward. It was a serious struggle, incredulously surviving over pains.
“This is your world.” The woman spoke at last.
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
She continued.” You see, your life is tricky. When you are still on your mothers womb, you gained so much care and attention. Both of your parents spending their nights, watching you crying until you stop after youre fed. You have a big rule for them. It is when you smile and tickle; your parents hardships and tiresome disappear. But when time justifies, your world changes and becomes a part of others. You have your friends and they would tell anybody who you are now. At times, you easily follow what they tell you and do what they do. Yes, they treat you like a golden lamb but eventually, you happen to be like rusty steel being sold to a junk shop. You would try to be away from the insanity youre in but unfortunately, time doesnt let you do it. It is true that time heals but for you, it doesnt move any inch because the damage has been done. Finally, youve got injury and your wounds will be forever.”
As I listened to her, my hands were shaking. I saw sincerity in her eyes but how could she know all of these things? Whats then?
“Your thoughts continue to explore your being human.” She said.
I felt the cold air running into my spine. It seemed like she read what I was thinking. She uttered horrible things.
She went on. “Soon youll be disappeared. The people around will be going in and out finding you. They will mourn your absence and then will courageously search you every now and then. They will have some rest sitting on that hat while others on the ground. One will talk more all about you and everybody will listen. Others will appreciate you because youre gone. And silence will overcome them. At the end, their tears will unconsciously roll against their faces without knowing if they are of joy or sadness.”
“Why should I know these things? And why you keep on telling me fantasy? All you should do is to send me home! My parents are waiting for me. And I still have my class!”
I checked the time but it was already late in the evening- 6:00, and the kampana rang.
“To the world where you will be, youll carry purse containing nothing. Youll try to have something to eat as what you desire in the past, but cant have any. Youll find water so you can drink after a long journey, but therell be none. Still, youll continue what youve started, walking amidst fine and rough roads ahead of you. Youll have a short time to sleep and a little time to rest until youll be befriended by a sungkod. Together, both of you will walk towards unknown.” She paused.
After she gave a litany, Id come to ponder what she was talking to me. There was power in her words. But what did I do? And how long should I be with her?
I could no longer wait few seconds to stay. I should go home now. My friends and family have been waiting for me.
“You wanted to go home now?” she asked me, chuckling.
“See that glistening light opposite to us. You must catch that portal before it closes. Nobody has ever entered there, because every time you go into it, the light suddenly disappears. So if it happens, no more another chance to escape. Maybe, time is so precious to make that light glimmered again. I am sure, that time is now.”
Without any protest, I hurriedly made a step back from her. But as I yanked off myself down the creek, suddenly my right leg was totally bound. It was a horrible snake. The old lady behind me was filled with laughter. I did not expect such deformity. The staff she was holding was now a hideous bend gripping me. I could not move nor run. It had almost over my body- slowly choking my neck. My breath was not that fast while the stranger continuously laughing, that her voice echoed throughout that unfamiliarity.
Jovanie was born in La Union, San Isidro, Davao Oriental. He is BSEd English graduate in Davao Oriental State College of Science and Technology, Mati City and currently an English instructor from the said institution. Born at La Union, San Isidro, Davao Oriental.