New Year’s Eve 2021
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
AT exactly 3:00 a.m., I normally go out to the yard to feel the air. Today it is cool, crisp and windy, passing through the limbs of the trees and the shrubs. I looked at the sky and saw the moon trying to peep through the passing clouds. It was cold but the sky is brighter than usual. It reminds me of bonfires, pine trees, early morning conversations of students who were unable to sleep and roasting marshmallows. It reminds me of me, waiting for the gate of Pink Sisters to open so I could hear the angelic voices of the cloistered nuns.
The breeze wrapped my body in a dance, my hair blown in all directions, and I could feel the cool, fresh air ingrain itself in the pores of my skin. I remember the house in the mountains built on the slope of a hill. I remember planting a lone sugarcane and my sister planting chicken bones hoping they will grow into chickens. I remember gathering sunflower stalks to make the wooden floors shine. I remember the wide windows whose large wooden slats have to be aligned at the close of the day. I remember sliding down the hill and getting scratched like a half-skinned cat.
My mother loved the sky. She would wake up at about the same time I wake up at dawn and point to me the little stars and gave them names, names that were not necessarily those given by the scientists or the astrologers she never bothered to read. She read Bannawag regularly, and I would sneak the copies at night and read them, instead of focusing on my school subjects. I learned to read and write in Ilocano at a very young age because of what she read, which were not children’s stories, but stories of everyday life. When she caught me reading the magazine, she would quickly snatch it, and push the books in my lap instead.
My father was a different story. He did not buy us toys, he made them for us. He assembled tiny wooden cars pulled with a string, and a small sledge we used to engage the steep slopes of the mountains. He made small airplanes from galvanized sheets and used pine wood as improvised propellers that actually rotates, but could not fly. He told me, “Your Uncle Opie flies an airplane. One day he would land his plane on the roof to visit us.” That was when I started dreaming to become a pilot, to be closer to the stars.
I remember these memories vividly, as if I were still a child. I could feel the strong presence of my mother and father in the energies that animate the breeze. Their hands wrap my body with the warmth of their bodies pressed together, a reassurance of the constancy of their love, in full acceptance of my precociousness, adventurism and occasional quirks.
This love makes me cry. Its warmth burns my heart. At the same time, it feels like an arrow that is embedded in the heart and could not be extricated, and continues to draw blood, once its memory is triggered. That memory comes without warning, and the grief is fresh again, drawing copious tears, blending its saltiness with the sweetness of the morning air.
I am among the stars
calling each one of them
by the names you gave
from the whisper of Hera
my airplane flies
in the flaming space beyond the sky
keeping pace with the lightning speed
of the chariots of Athena
Share your Comments or Reactions
Powered by Facebook Comments