It was a summer in 1960. Tinang was busy fixing the breakfast table for her children when she announced that she would go to the city to visit the kids’ father. Some of the smaller kids were not really paying attention to the announcement, as they were very eager to take or even fight for their share of the meal.
Like any young woman after the World War II, Tinang married early. She and her husband lived a very simple life; toiling by day and procreating at night. They both worked in their farm then, in a small town near the southern tip of Cebu. Only corn grew on the rocky soil. But they also lived near the sea. The sea produce was plentiful, and kids learned to fish at a very young age. So it was both farming and fishing that let them survive.
With the absence of any information about family planning, she gave birth almost every year. At 40, she had already given birth thirteen times, including twins. Sadly, only nine survived. The youngest is about half a year old. Thus, the increasing need of the growing family forced the husband to look for a job elsewhere.
The husband worked at a foundry in Cebu City, 120 kilometers away from his family. Tinang schedules a usual monthly visit getting the allotment from her husband, and budget the scanty amount to feed the large family.
Life in the province was hard for such a big family. Even having a rice meal was a luxury they cannot afford. The kids were forced to help. Since the eldest died right after birth, Nina, the second child, carried the responsibility of taking care of her siblings when the parents were away. At a tender age of 15, she was only able to reach grade 2, having to quit school every time her mother gave birth.
Boning was next in line. Like Nina, he was also responsible for taking care of the other siblings. He was also allowed to go with the uncles when they went fishing. School had no appeal to him. He declared he’d rather plant corn or catch fish than go to school.
Tinang then gave the usual instructions to the elder kids. They nodded, afraid to speak up. They knew that any sign of disobedience would result to a harsh beating. She then picked up the baby crawling on the dining table and gave him to Nina.
After everyone finished breakfast, Biboy, the third child, raised his hand. “I’ll go with you, Ma!” All the other kids looked at him. Then they turned their gaze toward their mother. He was barely ten, confident, and considered to be the smartest of the siblings. He was the only kid who loved school, even escaping from work just to attend classes.
Many days he heard him talk about the city. Mostly repeating the descriptions he heard from his father, and emphasizing his determination to work and live there someday. He boasted that he’d finish college so that when he grew up he won’t be fishing or farming. Nobody encouraged him to dream beyond their simple living, he was just an ambitious kid.
“No, no you can’t. You better stay here. Catch fish and plant corn” Tinang said with an angry look at the young boy.
“Ma, please” Biboy begged. But she just ignored him. She had to take the 9 AM trip to be able to reach the city by afternoon. With rough roads and the dilapidated buses, the trip will take at least 6 hours.
“Ma, please let me come with you” Biboy pleaded again. The other kids just watched him. They knew that he’d be punished soon. They’ve seen it happened a lot of times. Boning and Nina did not attempt to stop their younger brother too. They knew he was a persistent brat. They even wished he’d be spanked right then and there.
“Now go away! I’m in a hurry”.
Unnoticed, Biboy took her mother’s slippers and ran outside. Though they walk barefooted in and around the house, he knew that she can’t go to the city without her only slippers. It was one of her only decent possessions.
Then she began to look for it. All the other kids were pointing at Biboy as the culprit. She screamed at the top of her lungs. “Biboy!” Any minute longer, she would surely miss the bus.
From afar, Biboy pleaded. “Ma, please.”
“I said you stay here. Don’t be stubborn, or I’ll spank you till I see blood. Now, where are my slippers?” Tinang shouted.
“Would you bring me to the city if I find your slippers?” Biboy let out a naughty grin.
But Tinang got more angrier. She chased Biboy with a broomstick. But he was too quick. They ran around the house, then to the corn fields. The bus passed by with the familiar honk. It was the only bus to the city that day, and she was too far to signal it to stop. Her fury continued after missing her bus. She was cursing and shouting. Biboy froze upon seeing her mother turning redder. At last, she caught up with the kid and then beat him almost to death.
The wails of the little boy echoed in the hills. Nosy neighbors got curious too. But they had become used to it. Biboy saw his dream vanished. Perhaps, he thought, it could wait another day. He only wanted to see the city but he got bruises instead. Blood was flowing in his legs and arms. The mother was still unrelenting and unforgiving. She dragged the limping child back to the house.
Almost an hour later, neighbors had gathered around to discuss the bad news: The bus Tinang missed careened into a cliff a few kilometers away from their house, leaving more than half of the passengers – dead.
She was silent upon hearing the news. She could not believe she missed the trip to limbo.
Biboy stopped crying too. He also heard it all.
Tinang looked at his bloodied boy for a minute. Tears of regret began flowing from her eyes. She moved towards him, hugged him tight, and thanked him for saving her life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ceblogger authors three “Potent” and “Notable” blogs namely:
Jumbled writings is his creative blog, and according to him-
“The poems and stories here are written for the entertainment and satisfaction of the author. A fully edited text is not guaranteed. Errors and mistakes in grammar and spelling may be everywhere. However, if you enjoy reading the stories, the author will appreciate it more if you leave a comment. If you find the stories way, way below your taste and standard, you may not visit again.”
I like the poignant feeling this short poem evokes: untitled poem from a hopeless romantic.
And he has two- sentence stories too , like “Reunited” .
He has many more creative posts in his writing blog, so don’t forgo this chance to be entertained by his witty and ingenious posts .
He says this about himself:
He was born on a night in November 1975, to a loving couple who, despite struggling their way to get college degrees, were still able to raise their only son (and three daughters) and sent him to schools like UP and USC. “
Ceblogger.Com are his sports and random topics blogs where he writes about his passion for sports and other non-creative topics.