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January 16 2013 4 16 /01 /January /2013 12:28

University of Queensland Press, Australia

Extracts

SURVEYORS OF THE LIGUASAN MARSH

By Antonio Enriquez

Chapter 1

The two of them—Alberto Gonzales and his cousin Francisco—were on top of the papaya tree by the house in Zamboanga. They were then still boys. Suddenly, the papaya tree started to sway toward the house. Before he and his cousin could climb down, the three fell. The papaya top broke off against the edge of the galvanized iron roof and came down upon both of them: fruit, flowers, leaves, and all. They were too shocked and scared of his mother and Tia Isabel, who were in the yard near by, to cry.
―What was that, Albertito?‖ said the mother, using his pet name.
―Nada, mama,‖ he said. ―Nothing‖—although they were standing there, the papaya tree trunk still between their legs, for they had had no time to climb down because the tree fell so quickly.
―Ooohhhh,‖ she said. She never once looked at them, not even to turn her head for a glance, since she was too busy talking to their aunt. ―Then what was that racket I heard?‖ She went on talking, not looking at them still.
―It was nothing, mama,‖ he said. ―Nada, nada,‖ although the leaves, flowers, and fruit were still coming down on them like rainfall.
The two squatted there under the eaves, Alberto and his cousin Francisco, not moving a hair, really scared to move so as not to catch his mama’s or their aunt’s attention.
They were then still boys.

Chapter 2

For was he not a Zamboangueño, born and raised in Zamboanga, with Moros as his childhood playmates? Quite often, outside of his home town, in the Visayas or in Luzon, he was mistaken for a Moro.
―You must be a datu –chief,‖ the dimpled whore from Culi-Culi, a haven for worn-out prostitutes in Manila, had said to him while putting the money away under her elastic panty belt.
He had tipped her generously for one lay and treated her more gently than he would a decent girl. ―No, no, I’m not a datu,‖ he said, sitting up on the side of the pallet and gazing at the icon of Christ on a tiny altar up against a wall. ―Why do you say I’m a datu?‖
She sat up on the pallet too, and, wrapping her arms round him, leaned her head on the small of his back. She said, ―Did you not say you were from Zamboanga?‖
―It does not mean I’m a Moro,‖ he said. Her hair brushed against his back. Under a glaring electric ceiling bulb he was naked but for his socks, which he had not taken off. While screwing her he had felt silly and had even once turned his head to look at his stockinged feet. ―Much less am I a datu,‖ he said, ―justbecause I gave you a big tip.‖
Because Alberto had treated her decently, gently, the whore said she would give him an extra lay. He said, ―No, no, no, thanks,‖ and immediately felt so proud for having self-control and strong will. And yet one lay was truly enough, because before the week was over he had the clap, and while pissing into the toilet bowl in his boarding-house in Sampaloc, Manila, to relieve the burning sensation, he broke the toilet bowl cover, and two days or so later he nearly broke his head when he slipped on the bathroom tiles. He made up his mind then to see a doctor who had his clinic on the unlit ground floor of a half-demolished building in front of the University. The doctor gave him a long sermon on morality and the virtues of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the soldier saint and patron of fornicators, but after over half an hour had not written any prescription for his social disease. Alberto stood up to leave, and the doctor nonchalantly asked him where in the devil’s name he was going without the prescription. Alberto changed his voice to an effeminate’s, and said, ―I’m going to see a preacher.‖

 

Chapter 3

 

In a way crudely, that was his life—always going crack, crack, crack. Or perhaps more like a duck’s nervous quack, quack, quack. But there was always a crack a cleavage, a break, and somehow he was always responsible for it. He was never conscious of it happening at the time. The exact moment could only be traced back—or, sometimes, foreseen—but at that infinitesimal moment when the break, aayyiiieee, the crack came: never!
He left some girls (not so many as he would like to boast or pretend to have had to his friends by his non-committal silence when the subject of girls and prostitutes was brought up)—before that rumble near the school, over a girl, in Zamboanga. He would like to think he left them, but now looking back and being true to himself, it seemed they had drifted away when that crack came.
And as for Myrna, that moment came some two years ago. They were standing by the side of the Liberal Arts building, in half darkness, the concrete parade-ground walk hard and firm under his feet.
―I have mother’s jewelry and some money I saved in my handbag,‖ she said. She smiled, so sweetly, and her face seemed to light up in the half darkness. It was as though she had smiled into his face, sending radiation of light into his with her love and trust in him.
He wanted to ask what she was doing with her mother’s jewelry, with the money. But then it suddenly came to him that her reply might force him to a commitment, irrevocable and implacable—to say yes to her. So, instead he said, ―Won’t your mother be angry if she discovers the loss of her jewelry?‖
―Does it matter when we are gone?‖ she said. And he saw the light in her face begin to dim. Still, she looked radiant standing there before him in her green-and-white school uniform, so beautiful and desirable. He ached wanting her. But was he ready to pay for tonight’s and all the night’s screwing for the rest of his life by running away with her now and eventually marrying her?
He tried not to look into her face when he said, ―Maybe we should think more about this. Why don’t we talk about this again tomorrow?‖
Finally, the light, the glow in her face, dimmed: but oh! she was so beautiful still. And then, suddenly, quiet and pitiful, she stood there with her mother’s jewelry and the little money she had saved in her bag. She did not say anything, although her eyes said, painfully, to him—or so he imagined—―You goddamn coward! You pitiful (how ironical), goddamn coward!‖
And then crack, crack, crack! And nothing he could say or do afterwards would change that scene or bring back the light, the radiance in her lovely, innocent face. Crack, and that finally was lost. O that I shall die!
And then there was Baby. He called her Baby, although her real name was Concepcion. She was a quiet, silent young girl, very dark, not so tall as Myrna, but more vivacious, easily excited: more soft in your arms, liquid-like, the moment you touched her. The two of them were in the unlit operating room of the town hospital, in the
darkness, and she was in her immaculately white nurse’s uniform, since she was on night-duty.
―You mean do it here?‖ he said, incredibly, holding both her hands in his and looking round for the operating table. He hardly could see it in the darkness; and there, in the unlit operating room, only her white nurse’s uniform reflected the shafts of faint moonlight coming through the windows.
―Why not?‖ she said, as she withdrew one hand and quickly thrust it inside his pants. She was panting then, and he thought he saw her red lips parting, hot, moist, falling like dewy rose petals.
But he was not ready: trembling and scared that if he gave in he would have to be tied up with her every moment for the rest of his life. Or, perhaps he wanted to show her he was much more gallant than other young men, mas galante; and had more dignity by refusing her: to quell her soaring passion on the operating table. ―What if the head nurse sees us!‖ he whispered, stalling for time. ―She comes in here during her rounds.‖
Really, she did not say anything, but in the closeness of her mouth and her breasts he felt her silent laughter begin to rise, to tremble as much as he trembled then—and to soar up her throat before breaking with contempt and hate for him. This he had not expected. And now, viciously, he heard her say, although she never said a word above a hiss, heard her say, spitefully, lashing her hiss-words like a horse-whip across his face: ―Miss Lydia Tamparong! She lays more men here on the operating table a night than there are patients operated on by Dr. Carreon in a week!‖
He lost her. He tried to capture the falling petals, to open her red roughed wet lips with his, but catlike she withdrew; hiss-falling away silently, invisibly, wafting down in the air-current of her hissing when he tried to kiss her again. And he swore just as silently: Dear God! Dear, dear God!

___________

TO BUY

Contact:

Antonio Enriquez

Ramiroville cor Macanhan UCCP Church, Macanhan, Cagayan de Oro City

Mobile: 09235242746

Email: antonio_e36@yahoo.com

antonioenriquez@outlook.com

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January 16 2013 4 16 /01 /January /2013 12:20

University of Queensland Press, Asia & Pacific Series 8, Queensland, Australia

Extracts

 

SURVEYORS OF THE LIGUASAN MARSH

By Antonio Enriquez

 

Chapter 1

The two of them—Alberto Gonzales and his cousin Francisco—were on top of the papaya tree by the house in Zamboanga. They were then still boys. Suddenly, the papaya tree started to sway toward the house. Before he and his cousin could climb down, the three fell. The papaya top broke off against the edge of the galvanized iron roof and came down upon both of them: fruit, flowers, leaves, and all. They were too shocked and scared of his mother and Tia Isabel, who were in the yard near by, to cry.
―What was that, Albertito?‖ said the mother, using his pet name.
―Nada, mama,‖ he said. ―Nothing‖—although they were standing there, the papaya tree trunk still between their legs, for they had had no time to climb down because the tree fell so quickly.
―Ooohhhh,‖ she said. She never once looked at them, not even to turn her head for a glance, since she was too busy talking to their aunt. ―Then what was that racket I heard?‖ She went on talking, not looking at them still.
―It was nothing, mama,‖ he said. ―Nada, nada,‖ although the leaves, flowers, and fruit were still coming down on them like rainfall.
The two squatted there under the eaves, Alberto and his cousin Francisco, not moving a hair, really scared to move so as not to catch his mama’s or their aunt’s attention.
They were then still boys.

Chapter 2

For was he not a Zamboangueño, born and raised in Zamboanga, with Moros as his childhood playmates? Quite often, outside of his home town, in the Visayas or in Luzon, he was mistaken for a Moro.
―You must be a datu –chief,‖ the dimpled whore from Culi-Culi, a haven for worn-out prostitutes in Manila, had said to him while putting the money away under her elastic panty belt.
He had tipped her generously for one lay and treated her more gently than he would a decent girl. ―No, no, I’m not a datu,‖ he said, sitting up on the side of the pallet and gazing at the icon of Christ on a tiny altar up against a wall. ―Why do you say I’m a datu?‖
She sat up on the pallet too, and, wrapping her arms round him, leaned her head on the small of his back. She said, ―Did you not say you were from Zamboanga?‖
―It does not mean I’m a Moro,‖ he said. Her hair brushed against his back. Under a glaring electric ceiling bulb he was naked but for his socks, which he had not taken off. While screwing her he had felt silly and had even once turned his head to look at his stockinged feet. ―Much less am I a datu,‖ he said, ―justbecause I gave you a big tip.‖
Because Alberto had treated her decently, gently, the whore said she would give him an extra lay. He said, ―No, no, no, thanks,‖ and immediately felt so proud for having self-control and strong will. And yet one lay was truly enough, because before the week was over he had the clap, and while pissing into the toilet bowl in his boarding-house in Sampaloc, Manila, to relieve the burning sensation, he broke the toilet bowl cover, and two days or so later he nearly broke his head when he slipped on the bathroom tiles. He made up his mind then to see a doctor who had his clinic on the unlit ground floor of a half-demolished building in front of the University. The doctor gave him a long sermon on morality and the virtues of Saint Ignatius Loyola, the soldier saint and patron of fornicators, but after over half an hour had not written any prescription for his social disease. Alberto stood up to leave, and the doctor nonchalantly asked him where in the devil’s name he was going without the prescription. Alberto changed his voice to an effeminate’s, and said, ―I’m going to see a preacher.‖

 

Chapter 3

 

In a way crudely, that was his life—always going crack, crack, crack. Or perhaps more like a duck’s nervous quack, quack, quack. But there was always a crack a cleavage, a break, and somehow he was always responsible for it. He was never conscious of it happening at the time. The exact moment could only be traced back—or, sometimes, foreseen—but at that infinitesimal moment when the break, aayyiiieee, the crack came: never!
He left some girls (not so many as he would like to boast or pretend to have had to his friends by his non-committal silence when the subject of girls and prostitutes was brought up)—before that rumble near the school, over a girl, in Zamboanga. He would like to think he left them, but now looking back and being true to himself, it seemed they had drifted away when that crack came.
And as for Myrna, that moment came some two years ago. They were standing by the side of the Liberal Arts building, in half darkness, the concrete parade-ground walk hard and firm under his feet.
―I have mother’s jewelry and some money I saved in my handbag,‖ she said. She smiled, so sweetly, and her face seemed to light up in the half darkness. It was as though she had smiled into his face, sending radiation of light into his with her love and trust in him.
He wanted to ask what she was doing with her mother’s jewelry, with the money. But then it suddenly came to him that her reply might force him to a commitment, irrevocable and implacable—to say yes to her. So, instead he said, ―Won’t your mother be angry if she discovers the loss of her jewelry?‖
―Does it matter when we are gone?‖ she said. And he saw the light in her face begin to dim. Still, she looked radiant standing there before him in her green-and-white school uniform, so beautiful and desirable. He ached wanting her. But was he ready to pay for tonight’s and all the night’s screwing for the rest of his life by running away with her now and eventually marrying her?
He tried not to look into her face when he said, ―Maybe we should think more about this. Why don’t we talk about this again tomorrow?‖
Finally, the light, the glow in her face, dimmed: but oh! she was so beautiful still. And then, suddenly, quiet and pitiful, she stood there with her mother’s jewelry and the little money she had saved in her bag. She did not say anything, although her eyes said, painfully, to him—or so he imagined—―You goddamn coward! You pitiful (how ironical), goddamn coward!‖
And then crack, crack, crack! And nothing he could say or do afterwards would change that scene or bring back the light, the radiance in her lovely, innocent face. Crack, and that finally was lost. O that I shall die!
And then there was Baby. He called her Baby, although her real name was Concepcion. She was a quiet, silent young girl, very dark, not so tall as Myrna, but more vivacious, easily excited: more soft in your arms, liquid-like, the moment you touched her. The two of them were in the unlit operating room of the town hospital, in the
darkness, and she was in her immaculately white nurse’s uniform, since she was on night-duty.
―You mean do it here?‖ he said, incredibly, holding both her hands in his and looking round for the operating table. He hardly could see it in the darkness; and there, in the unlit operating room, only her white nurse’s uniform reflected the shafts of faint moonlight coming through the windows.
―Why not?‖ she said, as she withdrew one hand and quickly thrust it inside his pants. She was panting then, and he thought he saw her red lips parting, hot, moist, falling like dewy rose petals.
But he was not ready: trembling and scared that if he gave in he would have to be tied up with her every moment for the rest of his life. Or, perhaps he wanted to show her he was much more gallant than other young men, mas galante; and had more dignity by refusing her: to quell her soaring passion on the operating table. ―What if the head nurse sees us!‖ he whispered, stalling for time. ―She comes in here during her rounds.‖
Really, she did not say anything, but in the closeness of her mouth and her breasts he felt her silent laughter begin to rise, to tremble as much as he trembled then—and to soar up her throat before breaking with contempt and hate for him. This he had not expected. And now, viciously, he heard her say, although she never said a word above a hiss, heard her say, spitefully, lashing her hiss-words like a horse-whip across his face: ―Miss Lydia Tamparong! She lays more men here on the operating table a night than there are patients operated on by Dr. Carreon in a week!‖
He lost her. He tried to capture the falling petals, to open her red roughed wet lips with his, but catlike she withdrew; hiss-falling away silently, invisibly, wafting down in the air-current of her hissing when he tried to kiss her again. And he swore just as silently: Dear God! Dear, dear God!

___________

TO BUY

Contact:

Antonio Enriquez

Ramiroville cor Macanhan UCCP Church, Macanhan, Cagayan de Oro City

Mobile: 09235242746

Email: antonio_e36@yahoo.com

antonioenriquez@outlook.com

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January 16 2013 4 16 /01 /January /2013 11:57

UP Press 2006

Extracts

Samboangan: the Cult of War
by Antonio Enriquez

Chapter 3

Two days later, Governor Sebastian Torres and his fleet sailed back to the port of New Samboangan Community from Punta Pana. A very huge welcome and celebration awaited them. Since it was Christmas Eve, a lucky day! A grand double feast was celebrated: Christmas Eve and a consecrated Mass for the victory against the notorious Moro Pirate Jainal. Also the rector of Tandapit Jesuit Residencia, Father Serra, offered a Noche Buena Mass. He had come for such purpose, sailing from his Jesuit Residencia over 100 kms. North to the Fort, as the crow flies. Assisting him was no other than Father Cochea, the chaplain of the Fort Nuestra Señora dela Immaculada Concepcion and the parish priest of New Samboangan Settlement.

But the festivities’ grand and ostentatious point was the hanging of half a dozen chieftains of Jainal the Pirate, for a day before, gibbets had been built and raised all along the road leading to the Fort. Brought alive, and kicking, so to say, to the Fort, the half-dozen chieftains were hanged before the Subanons and Lutaos of the New Samboangan Community. “Let these hangings serve as an example,” Governor Torres told the new settlers, who had been brought to the pueblo’s new settlement either peacefully or by force. “Look: this is what happens to Moro pirates and infidels, who dared the might of Spain and the King.”

Then they gathered the new settlers, Subanons and Lutaos, before the Fort itself, and when everyone was there, the Spanish themselves raised a along wooden pole. On one end was exhibited the decapitated head of the Pirate Jainal, which had already begun to rot during the two-, three-day trip from Punta Pana to the New Samboangan Community. For Governor Torres and Father Cochea were delayed returning to the Samboangan port, since they had to look after the suffering and besieged inhabitants of the stricken sitios and barrios plundered by the demised Datu Jainal.

The following day, exposed to the tropical sun, the uncovered severed head at the end of the pole disintegrated faster and more rapidly. An unbearable, foul smell of rotting flesh polluted the air of the Fort and round the whole plaza, hanging like a mantle over the Samboangan Settlement of the Indios (what all islanders were called by the Spaniards).

And the rest of the week, folks said, that slowly, slowly, the carnivorous birds of the marshland nitpicked piece by piece, morsel by morsel, the rotting, putrefied head of Jainal the Pirate. First the carnivorous birds gorged the eyes, the nose, the ears, and then the loose, rotten flesh round the blackish cheeks. At last, they pecked the skull dry of its hair and scalp. These carnivore birds were already forgotten by Subanon and Lutao natives here, for the

Carnivorous birds were seldom seen, if at all, since they flew only on moonless nights. The horrible birds lived in the marshland, north of the fort, less than half a kilometer away, and indeed gone and forgotten until they reappeared again at the hangings. What the natives knew was that the carnivorous birds had lived there in the marshland long, long before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1521 A.D. _________

TO BUY

Contact:

Antonio Enriquez

Ramirovill cor, Macanhan UCCP Church

Macanhan, Cagayan de Oro City

Mobile: 09235242746

Emails: antonio_e36@yahoo.com

antonioenriquez@outlook.com

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January 16 2013 4 16 /01 /January /2013 11:31

Historical novel     No. of words: 49,015

Extracts

 

The Survivors

              by Antonio Enriquez

                                                 

Chapter 1

           

 

 

Before dawn that day, hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians had gathered on the mountain tabletop, fronting the valleys below. They were farmers, carpenters, coconut-gatherers, corn- and rice-shearers, and laborers. There were former civic officers, sabes tu, like Mayor Agustin Perez and minor officials and civil servants and Philippine Constabulary officers like Captain Pedro Santos.

Somebody along the line, not me, said: “But why are we going with the Japanese Forces?”

 “To keep them company .... ” said another, laughing a bit beside me.

 “They’ll miss us ... the blank Japanese,” said still another, in our row, but did not laugh;

“if we don’t go with them.”

Ay, will they miss us,” I said.

“It looks that way, hoy!”

We all made light of the forced “evacuation,” to relieve the tension and worry gnawing at our minds.

“Move!” the kempeitai cried. “Move. Move. Move.”

Grro, grro, grrooo,” screamed a  Japanese officer from the other end of a column in Engrish, reddish in the face as only a red hue can show in yellow skin.

“He means let’s go,” a man said to me, and jerked me gently when I did not move from my line.

“I know … no need to push,” said I, pretending anger in spite of the gentle push.

Ay. But I did not, you know … ” 

O, o,” I said, a trace of false anger noticeable in the harsh tone of my voice. Turning toward the man, whom I had recognized earlier — “Ay, it’s you, Captain Santos.”

“Yes-yes,” he replied. “And the mayor is with us … somewhere. The Japanese officer thought of bunching us together, those who worked at City Hall … sabes tu.”

Pues we started down from the mountain tabletop to the valley below.

“A  division … some 20,000 Japanese troops,” someone said, in a loud voice, in front of the line.

“No.”

“Yes, that’s what I heard.”

Gende yo cre,” said a Chabacano-speaking farmer. “I don’t believe.”

No; si no quiere bos,” he replied. “No ... if you don’t wish to.”

“That’s too many soldiers, imagine 20,000. That’s why I don’t believe.”

A voice behind us said, “Come on, move.”

“Move, move,” the Japanese kempeitai shouted. “Waatts da mat ter?

Ahead, a flabby, slow-footed man did not move.

“Did you not hear the kempeitai, hah?” said a fellow next to him. “You want to lose your head, amigo? Come on, move already.”

Said the flabby man sternly, “Who wants to lose his head, do you?” The fellow spun around, and recognizing Mayor Perez, immediately apologized.  “I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you, Mayor.”

No reply from the mayor but he moved several breast-lengths from his place.

Captain Santos’s aide, Sergeant Arcilla, leaning from his line peered out and said, “Mayor Perez is in front of us. Heard him talk to someone there, over there.”

Neither Captain Santos nor I bent in front of our line to where Arcilla pointed. We were all of us together, and here we had a common denominator: all servants and lackeys of the kempeitai captain.          

 

 

 

 

                                                                Chapter 2

 

 

We rested in the middle of the slope. An hour or so later, the kempeitai captain came to our group, a young native woman in tow. She was maybe in her early twenties, dressed in native garments, colorful though tattered, with anklets round her shanks, which made gleeful ringing sounds everytime she moved them. Her name was Talibon.

Yu kip ‘er,” said the Kempeitai. “Tayk ker of ‘er.”

“Yes,” we said.

Dun’t forgit.”

“All right.”

He went off without another word.

She stood there before us, scrubby but proud. Though a bit unsure of herself as we were strangers to her, she never lowered her head to us, as common native women would, bowing in respect before Christians and city officials. But likely she didn’t recognize the mayor. But how about the constabulary men who were still in uniform? Living out there in the mountains the closest sight she had of military men was when they raided her barrio or went after a tribesman for thievery or murder. Usually murder.

She is astonishingly beautiful, I thought. Never have I seen a more beautiful native woman.

Later, sitting on a treeroot, she told us what happened. Her husband was a native chieftain, who, with some of his forest warriors, was killed in an encounter with a Japanese patrol. Armed only with long knives, blow guns, slingshots, poison-tipped arrows, and spears, the chieftain and his forest warriors were massacred. They stood no chance against modern weapons which spat fire.

As she fled, conscripted Filipino “volunteers” captured her and turned her over to the kempeitai. For reward the secret police promised them leniency and an increase in their food ration.  No longer would the kempeitai bash their heads  for forgetting to bow at a passing Japanese officer and serve last week’s gruel topped with swarming flies.  

 

 

                               

        

                                                     Chapter 3

 

 

The orphan boy Tibo was running down the slope and crashing through the bushes and thickets. He shouted, “Oy, oy, oy.”

He ran several times up and down the slope. Soon he got tired, and you could see it as his feet started to wobble in a sort of a funny way.

Much aware of the steepness, I descended slowly and carefully. I had no wish to slip. Behind me my wife Emma followed, going down much slower. An extra packet with her jewelry and a small statue of the Virgen Milagrosa swung from her hips. Other trinkets too, which she had  not told me she had brought with her, hung in the other packet. 

We halted a while to catch our breath.

“You don’t need them, Emma,” I said to my wife, “none of those trinkets.” 

“We’ll need them when we get back … to barter for food.”

“If! For food .… ?”

Really, I could not believe what I heard.

Soon she will have to discard them, even the Virgin’s statue. I swore, “May I die!”

The further we were from the mountain tabletop and lower down the steep, the heavier became our camp packs on our backs or shoulders. Without making a sign, everyone halted to rest, not just us, the Bocaviejas, but the other evacuees too.

After half an hour’s rest, we started going down the mountain side again. At this point, the Japanese troops having marched earlier and faster were over the first hills, and no longer could they be seen leading the march. After climbing up and down the mountain sides and cliffs that morning found us in a valley that was verdant with plants and wild flowers.

Behind the green vegetation and wild orchids, and outlining the edge of the valley, were clayish mounts of rocks. This as far as your eyes could see. Isolated brush, with little blades of leaves, and small clumps of scrubby woods grew nearby.

As my wife Emma and the orphan boy were crossing the shadowed part of the valley, I sat down on a rock and waited for them. That part was flat as a pan, and the two would have made quicker progress if not for some clusters of rock blocking their way. 

Bending a little, I massaged my bad left foot, sabes tu, without the small toe. I had crushed it with a hoe, there at our small farm, some years ago, so I did not have to report back to work. That was two or so years ago at the construction of the Japanese airfield in the seashore barrio of Calarian.

Self-inflicted.

It was beginning to hurt me.

Will I be able to endure the pain? I asked myself. We’ve just started and already my bad foot is hurting so much. Rayo!

Not hearing her approach, I did not lift my head until Emma spoke. “Is it your bad leg again?” she said. “Is it again bothering you?”

Not lifting my head at her still, although now I heard her clearly. “Si, Emma. It’s my toe again.”

The little toe was hurting although it had been amputated. What a big joke.

Mutilated. Self-inflicted. Cut off. It’s all the same. No toe.

Ironical! I said to myself, smiling and twisting my lips at her. Now, I lifted my head, and looked up at her. In disbelief, the irony unfading. “How can a toe hurt when it’s not there, gone for  two years already,” I said. Come on, tell me!”

 “It is just in your mind, Paolo.”

“Don’t you tell me … just in my mind. ”

I continued massaging the muscles of my bad foot. Emma went to a spot behind another rock where she hid her jewelry and the little statue of the Virgin Mary. Before walking back to me, she gazed about her looking here and there. Maybe if she sees anyone suspicious, she’ll unbury them, I thought.

Then I heard a murmuring sound, not much farther down the slope. It came into my ears, like a soothing balm, making me forget the pain in my left foot: thinking, I’ll cool myself a bit, and skip among the rocks toward it.

Going down the slope, I slid a little although it had not rained, not in the cool sunny month of May. What made it slippery was the eternal shade from the forest foliage, which kept the ground damp the whole year round, even during the dry months.

Grabbing at shoots and stems of thickets and undergrowth to prevent from slipping down the steep, I continued my way down slowly. Ahead of me a stream of pebbles rolled down fast, and   ceased  rolling seconds after I reached the bottom of a gorge.

Along the bank I halted to listen to the murmur of the stream grow louder. It hummed in my ears, while on its bed ran clear and crystal-like water. Up ahead the land before me, farther from the cluster of rocks, were stunted thickets and brush. The ground was and level flat as one’s palm once again.

I wrenched my head up toward a mount of rocks along the river bank.

Hoy, Emma, come down here …”  I shouted at my wife. “The water is very clear and beautiful.”

“No-no,” she shouted back.

“Yes. Come down. Why not?”

Behind the rocks where I had left her she raised her head but ignored me.  The orphan Tibo was on the other side of the clump of rocks; he could not see me, even if he were to stare down the slope. There were just too many jutting rocks between us.

I did not call her again. Instead, I gazed across the stream at a high bank. On its head stood a patch of woods with more trees of very small trunks than there were on the slopes. The small-trunk trees grew straight up with little branches at the end of which were bundles of green leaves. But I did not cross the stream to get to the high bank, for the cool and clear water here was more tempting. I put both my feet — even the foot without the small toe — into the water.

Frio, bien frio el agua, I said aloud in my mind,  Won’t it  be great if I cool my bad foot the whole morning? Cool them until the pain is gone.

Just then, from the slope overlooking the gorge, I heard the kempeitai captain calling us. We were to join those others evacuating, too; they were now starting the march into the jungle.

O, o, to the Japanese we were just evacuating, not retreating and hiding from the American airplanes — thinking, But whom is the kempeitai making a fool of — at the wild cats and monkeys here!

____________

TO BUY:

Contact:

 Antonio Enriquez

Ramiroville cor. Macanhan UCCP Church Compound

Macanhan, Cagayan de Oro City 9000

celfn: +639235242746

emails: antonio_e36@yahoo.com;

antonioenriquez@outlook.com

antonio-enriquez.blogspot.com

           

 

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  • : antoniofermin's name
  • : See Deep South through folktales and literature, see the clash between Christians and Moros, see its history through tradition and myths, see Zambanga's mestizos as they fought against their Spanish colonizers, see how the Zamboanguenos sieze the strongest Spanish fort in the Visayas and Mindanao, see the new Imperialist U.S.A. trample the Zamboanga revolutionarios by starving the people, see the horror and terror of the dictator Marcos's martial law, & see ethnic cleansing in the evil regime.
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