You may want to read chapter 4 first.
The zephyr breeze caressed her upturned faceand diffused into the thin moisture of sweat that seeped through her skin.. She gasped, seemingly in need of air. Her eyes were closed, like a maiden in repose. She had delicate, gossamer wings on – flimsy, undulating appendages – that were gently flying her higher and higher up the clouds. She moaned and her thighs quivered as each exquisite rivulet of sensation coursed through her body.
Benny, kissed her mount of Hedon once more as another moan of pleasure escaped from her .
The building desire that Benny felt had reached its crescendo. It was more than he could bear now. His mouth on hers, he gently lowered himself into Julia. When skin touched skin – two became one – and their bodies were lost in the miasma of pleasure and ecstasy. It was like a glowing ember – at first, flickering in the dark, then increasing in intensity… growing bigger and brighter… until it became one fiery conflagration that was difficult to contain. This left them grasping and clinging hungrily for each other. They were oblivious of everything around them as they rolled and wrestled on the bamboo floor of the small hut.
Outside, a bonfire was raging. A handful of young men and women were singing the salidummay – “ay ay salidummay, salidummay, diway.” ( a native chant). Their eager, brown faces looked surreal amidst the shadows of the night. The “gangsa” (gongs) have been neatly stacked in one corner of the small, corrugated plaza. The plaza was almost empty now, except for them. The arm of Morpheus seemed to be at a distance to these young people, as they laughed merrily, taunted and flirted with each other.
It was Benny and Julia’s first night as husband and wife.
The taddok (native dances) and the gangsa (gongs) had opened the festivities in the morning, while a cow was butchered for that momentous occasion – complete with the native rituals that the old folks had performed. There was merrymaking all day long, with lots of “basi” native wine and rice cakes enough for the small, far -flung barrio to feast on.
Fr. Belucci wanted to conduct a formal church wedding but the increasing violence and unrest in the area had made it impossible for them to implement that plan. Instead, a native Taloctoc wedding took place, where Benny’s parents finally met Julia’s.
The good priest was too old to take the arduous trek to Taloctoc; but he did not protest to the native wedding as he was aware that native marriages were even more binding and respected by the people.
In Taloctoc, even at very young ages, children were betrothed to someone their parents considered suitable. When the child reached puberty, marriage was the inevitable conclusion. The word “love” never came into the picture. Love was a relative word for them. So the tradition of betrothal was usually followed without question. Benny was spared of this, because of Fr. Belucci.
Far from the perimeter of the eerie shadows of the bonfire, 5 men stood rigidly on guard . In spite of the festive air, their ears and eyes were alert and wary. And it was justified that they should be , for after a few minutes, a man came crashing through the thick foliage.
“Where’s Ka Benny?” the man asked in one burst of bated breath.
” Calm down, what is it?”
” We have to get going, a whole battalion of soldiers will be at Tindayan tomorrow morning to start bringing materials for the dam,” he could not conceal the growing desperation in his voice.
At the first loud knock, Benny knew it was time to go. He was thankful, God had given him those few, precious hours to be with his parents again and to be wed to the woman he loved most.
“They did what I predicted ,” Benny said as a matter-of -fact, before the man could open his mouth.
The man vigorously nodded. “Yes, yes…it is positive, they had started their convoy now.
“Then gather the men. Let’s start moving” Benny directed. He stood for a minute staring at the back of the departing man and thought, ” Was this a part of my plan when I started schooling? To be the regional commander of the NPA (New People’s Army)? He had never been a violent man…even now…but fate had handed him a different dish. He was lucky, Taloctoc was one of the NPA’s stronghold, or he would not have been able to get married peacefully.
Photo by Jenn of Jenn Was Here
When Ka Pepe had literally forced him and Julia to go to the mountains with them on that dreadful night, he had never thought that he would be taking Ka Pepe’s place. Ka Pepe had died in one bloody encounter with the army in the mountains of Benguet. From then on, the rest of the men, looked up to him for guidance and direction. He was one of the youngest in the group but his thoughts and ideas were brilliant. His tactical offensives were like that of an experienced general in the field of battle. Benny knew it was because of the countless books that he had read which gave him vital insights into many things. He was voted unanimously to take Ka Pepe’s place.
The atrocities of the government coupled with the abuse of the military because of martial law had caused Benny to question the government’s supposed to be – pro-people agenda. The tribal chief of Tindayan had been assassinated because of the dam project and now they were bringing in the army to drive them away from the land that they had treasured and considered their lifeline. He realized to his surprise that the NPA’s idealogies were the goals he would like to achieve : equality, freedom and justice for all.
“What is it?” Julia was beside him.
He snapped out of his train of thoughts and looked into her eyes. How he loved this woman so much. He had read in books the phrases-“love at first sight” and “head over heels” but he had laughed at these then. How could a person fall in love at first glance? But he was sure now, that what he felt for Julia was not only love at first sight but a love he could not even properly, articulate in words ( and people say that he was a prolific writer!) .
They were barely together for 2 weeks, but he had been drawn like a magnet- irresistibly and undeniably- towards her. He could not imagine life without Julia- and he knew he had to marry her or he’ll never be happy.
“Do you have to go now?” her voice was worried but soothing and calm.
“I’m afraid we have to,” he touched her face with the tips of his finger, tracing the contours that he came to know so intimately that night.
“I love you”, he said, whispering…seeking…adoring…
“I love you too,” she said and kissed him fervently – almost like a prayer.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
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