Love is dear!

By Emmanuelle

HE was from this island paradise, where one is forever a child running fast and furious through its flats and hills and mountains high. It was a running as a prelude to, later in his young life like most others of his ilk, a running away from this place where the sea is its north and south and east and west. His soles and palms, like the others, got permanently rough and tough from clambering up trees and rough terrains. The roughness would remain surface skin; it was just the callous from the wood barks and the rocks, the rub of the sand, and the whip of the wind. The toughness, though, would stay.

And like many of his ilk, he believed one stopped growing if one forever stayed within the island crib hewed from the sea, the mountains and the sky. One remained a child, trapped within the safe, familiar rough. He believed he would truly be a grown-up if he survived the rough and tumble of the stranger world beyond.

And so he must run on. And so he did. Right smack into a raging World War.

It was a war far more cruel than anything he could imagine; but, the island halfway prepared him for it. He walked the Death March. And unlike most of the other marchers, his life did not end at Capas.

His life began anew. His surviving the war made him to want to make the most of what is left of the rest of his life. He studied to be an aeronautics engineer and learned to make flying as safe as running. He also became a husband and a father. And because he was a husband and a father, he took up running again, and this time his feet brought him to the United States of America, where he settled his running feet for good.

Well, almost. When his wife died and his children were all grown and independent, and when he retired to become one of the glorified pensionados,  suddenly, just like in a child’s game of Snakes and Ladders, he slid down to where he started just before the war. Alone again, naturally.

This time, he ran back home to his island, and the rest of the country’s 6,999+. Regardless of his family’s outrage, he set out to find himself (again!) a new life and a new wife. He ran, nay, limped around with his baston with a couple of women less than half his age. These women dot dubious dating places like the casino. And he was embraced by their cold arms delirious of what he can offer: dollars in the bank, marriage in their pocket and stamp on their passport. Luckily, his sisters were able to shoo away these women.

But they could not shoo away the last but not the least ma-abilidad of them, a lassie of twenty-three years, more or less one-fourth of his age, from Lobong, San Jacinto, Pangasinan. He was so smitten with this slip of a girl so fair and frail who chirped her promise to take care of him and all his ageing needs, plus his sisters and theirs. Overwhelmed with what he would like to believe as true love outpouring, he gave her his heart, his name, his ATM, his passport, etc. (Up to this writing, they are still tracing the extent of his self-surrender. The ATM was totally emptied, ano fi?)

One day, on his way to or from the international airport (the family forgot if it was to or from; he was gone with her too often) he disappeared for the longest time. She brought him home to a condo in the city which lease he had been long paying. She introduced him to her “uncle” who lived with her as chaperon. The girl did not sleep with her new husband that night or any other night for that matter. She slept with the “uncle”.

Next, she brought him home to San Jacinto where she made him stay with her grandparents for weeks. He would say later, “they were so poor; I never realized I can be so grateful for food, any kind of food.”

Midweek of this June, a call came for one of his sisters. A home for the aged in Marikina informed his sister he was abandoned to their care by his “granddaughter” who said there was no one to help her take care of him while she worked. He was starved, dehydrated, with skin black-and-blue and so swollen he was a big round blob they could not lay flat on the bed.

He told his sisters and their children what he went through like he was running out of breath and time. He truly was. Among his many injuries, there were traces of poison in his bloodstream. Promptly afterwards, he had a stroke and turned comatose. His sisters and their family brought him to the ICU of one of the best hospitals. The next day, one after the other, his systems failed. A day later, just before the sun rose at dawn, he died. He was 88. It was a rest heaven-sent.

To his death, he never got to see his children.

If there were lawyers among the readers of this Feelings story, can you please tell the family (probono for a start), what to do, where to scratch ang kanilang mga kukong nangingilo? More importantly, can justice be got? Can they go to court on this one?

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