Fisherboy (11 of 11)
Fisherboy: Imaginarily Directed By Ishmael Bernal
A Story by Jonathan Aquino (11 of 11)
The funeral was on the street in front of the wooden village council hall. The entire town was there, scattered on tables stretching across the dirt road. Most of the menfolk were drinking lambanog, and everybody else seems to be playing cards. There were two sealed coffins. Jay and Bugoy were seated on the borrowed monoblock bench.
"Kuya Jay," cried the young boy, "my father is gone!"
Jay had his arm around Bugoy. There was nothing he can say to take away the pain. "He didn't listen to mother! To Kuya Orlando!"Bugoy cried bitterly. "If only..."
Jay was looking at the crowd. "Where are Kuya Orlando's relatives?"
"He didn't have any," answered Bugoy, sniffing, wiping his nose with his sando. "He came back from Manila, I don't know, maybe two years ago. His father had a stroke, so he took care of him. Then he died. Kuya Orlando didn't want to go back to Manila, didn't even want to talk about it. So he stayed and went to work for my father."
"I still remember what he told us," said Jay, eyes misting."
"I won't forget them!" Bugoy almost shouted. "I'm going to finish school! When I get rich, I'm going to take my mother away from here!"
Prudy arrived then, breathless.
"Tsong!" cried Jay, rushing to embrace him.
"Oh Jay, thank God you're not hurt!" he said, holding the boy tight.
Jay was crying.
"Jay, what's wrong?" the old bachelor asked, alarmed.
"Tsong!" the boy cried, holding on to him like a drowning soul. "I want to go home!"
The years quickly passed. Prudy had put up a mini-grocery and became a softdrinks dealer. Jay was now freshman at FEU. One day, Prudy fetched Jay from school so the young man could accompany him to the bus station. Prudy was going to his hometown in Ilocos to sell his share of the riceland he had inherited.
"You've grown up so handsomely, son!" Prudy beamed, as they strolled around the station, happy in each other's company.
"Tsong, I don't think I ever told you..." Jay said, embracing the man who had become the father he never had. "Thank you..." Jay was crying. "Thank you for...everything...If not for you, I don't what would have happened to me..."
"I should be the one thanking you, son!" Prudy. "You brought so much happiness to my life!"
"I know now why you let me become a fisherman," Jay told him, looking into the old man's eyes. "You want me to experience that life, you want me to learn from it, to realize...Tsong, if I had known then what I knew now, Kuya Orlando would still be alive, and Bugoy would still have a father!"
Prudy lovingly held the young man's face in hands. "Remember, son," he said, "whatever happens, I'll always be proud of you!"
Jay didn't leave the station until the bus did. It was disappearing in the distance when the city lights came to life. The sun had set when Jay turned and began walking home.
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