2Rivers Feb 23 to March 1
Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal
A Story by Jonathan Aquino (3 of 11)
Sunlight was pouring through the grills behind the open capiz windows. The sounds of jeepneys and tricycles outside filled the room. Jay was standing in the kitchen, wearing black shorts and a basketball jersey. He was staring at the kettle like a victim of a carnival hypnotist. He shook his head, regaining his senses, as he heard footsteps.
"Good morning, Jay!" Prudy said cheerfully, coming down the stairs in a latte-colored bathrobe.
"Good morning, sir," the boy mumbled. At the moment, the kettle whistled.
"Oh, you made breakfast!" Prudy exclaimed, pleased. "Wow! But where did you get the bread?"
"I found it in the fridge," said Jake, strangely inanimate, pouring hot water into a mug. "Half a loaf of Tasty." He suddenly stopped. "I hope you don't mind," he said, alarmed.
"No, no, this is perfect!" said Prudy! "I like my eggs scrambled!" He sat down. "Oh, yeah, I remember! I made tuna sandwiches yesterday! Come on, let's eat!"
"I'm not hungry, sir," said Jay, bringing him the steaming brown coffee. He seemed fascinated by the light-blue patterns on the linoleum floor.
"Why? Are you ill?" Prudy asked, concerned.
Then it dawned on him, an epiphany like a thunderbolt.
"Oh, my God! Jake, come here!"
The boy approached, reluctant but submissive.
Prudy put his hands on the boy's shoulders. "Jake, look at me," he said. Serious. "Is it because of what happened last night?"
"It's your first time, right?”
"Sir?"The boy was startled.
"Look, Jay," said the old bachelor. "I'm really sorry."
The boy fidgeted. "It's just that..."
"Are you mad at me?" Prudy asked anxiously.
Jay seemed to be actually thinking about it. Slowly, he shook his head.
"You're too young to understand," Prudy said with an air of sorrow. "But I can promise this! You live with me now! You don't have to live in the streets anymore!
A sparrow flew over South Cemetery. Prudy and Jay were surrounded by the dead as they navigate their way around the tombs. The sun was pale, as if a reminder that its light will, someday, die too.
"Here we are, Jay," said Prudy, stopping before a solitary tomb. He sighed. “This is Arman.”
Jay put the flowers on the tomb reverently. He began to light the large candle he was carrying. A tiny flame came alive.
"He was only fifteen," Jay said softly, looking at the tombstone. "Just like me..."
"Would you like to see his picture?" Prudy asked hesitantly.
Slowly, Prudy took out his wallet and opened it. He handed it to Jay.
The boy looked at the photo. He shivered as he gave the wallet back. He sighed, looking at Arman's tomb.
"He looked just like me."
"The first time I saw you..." Prudy can't find the words.
Jay was contemplating the marble tombstone.
"What happened to him?"
Prudy shook his head. "There was a street rumble," he said, painful memories etched on his face.
Jay would look at him, then at the tomb, then him again.
"He fell with a street fraternity," Prudy continued. Suddenly, he felt very weak. He sat on a grave marker.
Jay waited, his fingers running lightly on the smooth surface of Arman's tomb.
"I told him many times to stay away from them," Prudy continued, looking at the statue of an angel standing over a grave, weeds growing around it. "I learned too late that he hasn't been going to school for months. He got kicked out. Then he began to spend most of his time at the gang's hangout in Baseco. Arman...he...got into drugs." Prudy began to cry.
Jay went over and put his hand on the old man's shoulder, looking down with growing understanding.
"Arman was a good boy," said Prudy, voice chocking with tears. "An affectionate, thoughtful, intelligent boy! He loved to read. Those pocketbooks in the house? They're all his..."
Jay sat on his ankle and put his arm around the old man.
"It's been three years!" cried Prudy. "Oh, God, Jay, I miss him so much!"
"Don't worry," said Jay, "I'm here and I won't leave you!"
"Thank you, Jay!" said Prudy, hugging him. "Thank you!" He wiped his tears and sniffed.
Jay smiled as the old man ruffled his hair fondly.
"You know," said Prudy, "Arman used to call me Tsong." He chuckled. "I found it really corny," he continued, smiling at the memory. "But I would be really be happy if you call me that, Jay!"
The boy laughed. "Okay, Tsong!" he said, returning the old man's embrace for the first time.
To Be Continued Next Saturday Night On The 2Rivers Saturday Evening Posts
(Photo courtesy of brusselspictures.com)
From The Journal of Jonathan Aquino aka Huggybear
Feb. 25, 2013
11:18 p.m., Monday
My last night in Pooc, Talisay in Cebu. Typing this on the guestroom, waiting for
sleep. Tired, long travel from work in Lahug City. Will move there tomorrow. Just
had dinner. On the way in Tabunok, I bought a P10 porkchop and "puso" (pronounced
pu-SO), locally cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves the size of pingpong balls,
3 for P10. But my favorite is "humba," a local pork dish that's like adobo and
paksiw combined. Speaking of food, I learned that "inasal," which is a popular
term in Manila, is just the Visayan word for "lechon" (roasted)
Today is the start of my third week in Cebu. I have neglected my diary for the
past weeks. I need to organize my thoughts and write down my adventures and
lessons learned in my journey. Will do that this weekend. I have painful
experiences but I don't want to be too detailed, but at the same I have to leave
a record or else I would regret taking for granted a significant event in my
life. My FB post earlier this week says it all: "Since I came here, I had
semi-new experiences that I swear to God will never happen again."
I am thinking: here in Cebu I have a beach in Talisay where I can swim for free;
a mountain hang-out in Lahug with a breath-taking view of the city; a jogging
lane at the I.T. Park; a decent gym with very affordable membership. Another
hang-out is the public library near the Capitol with nearly all the books I've
always wanted to read. I like my new company. I have more reasons to stay. When I
become eligible for vacation leaves, that's when I could travel to Bohol, Davao,
Thailand, Peru, Australia or any other place. Cebu will be my homebase
But I won't be here forever