Nature and Ancestry
Essays and Poems by Seth Sage
Scenes that caught my eyes, struck my mind, and touched my heart during a vacation.
#1: Kuya (Brother)
“Kuya!” Vitto called, offering his brother, Nathan, a portion of his chocolate bar. Without needing an apology (even Vitto’s face did not look sorry with all the chocolate in his face), Nathan accepted the snack, smiling his usual, radiant smile.
It was amazing how Vitto still shared his food with his brother after being thumped by Nathan’s heavy fists. Yes, it was all his fault that caused his demise, so he must feel guilty; however, if one looks closely, Vitto’s respect and understanding towards his brother was the one in motion. He respects Nathan as his brother. He understood his brother’s conditon of having polio. He knows that he loves Nathan — his brother, his kuya.
There was a little girl
who loitered by the sea.
She wore a dress of white
that matched her milky skin.
She waved her hand at us
as if to greet us ‘hi’.
Yet she wasn’t smiling,
nor did she say goodbye.
Neither was she from hell
nor was she an angel
No, I would never lie,
for I’ve seen with both eyes
That she was just a girl —
a little girl cloud up there
in the bright, blue heavens
wherein she loitered by
~Little Girl in the Sky
#3: Through the Liquor’s Truth
Drunk as ever, Uncle Rudy walked with us before we left. He had his hands around my neck and my father’s to support his weight. He was babbling about how happy he was that we visited.
“Thank you so much for visiting us here. It’s really great to see far-off relatives once in a while,” he said, stopping as he pushed himself up to stand properly. “Y’know, before you guys leave, I’d like to ask you a favor.” Uncle Rudy tipped his head towards me, indicating that he was talking to me. “When you grow up and get a job — any profession you want, please come visit us. Don’t forget about us because we are your family. We will be the first to be proud of your achievements. All I’m going to ask from your father is his support to what you want to be. Also, knowing that we will all die anytime soon, please maintain the connection between all of us. That’s all I ask of you.” After saying all this, he broke into a song.
Like something heavier fell upon me, I suppressed a cry as Uncle did throughout his speech. Uncle was in his most vulnerable state, revealing what he really felt. Though we never knew each other that much, I felt his pain and joy, his contentment and regret. I felt the truth of his words in my heart and the pressure of his favors upon my shoulders. I felt the truth that liquor unlocked in Uncle’s drunken heart.
#4: The Maiden Fair
She, who fell
lie on her
All she was,
#5: Beyond Memory
On her bed she sat, looking out the door. She was in her usual room: a messy bed, a table for support, a wooden divan, and another bed diagonal to hers. Her sunken eyes looked beyond the ongoing festival and the faces that passed by her sight. She was waiting for something or someone she can’t seem to remember who or what.
A man came to her doorstep, cancelling the sunlight entering her room. She stared at him as scenes flashed through her mind. She knew him, but she does not remember who he was. Her hand was brought to his forehead in respect (pagmamano is an act of respect to elders here in the Philippines). He wore a smile upon his face that made her smile, too.
“Good morning, Grandma! Do you remember who I am?” the man asked, putting his arms on the table and lowering his head to make his face visible to her. She knew him, but she did not remember his name. She smiled in response. It wasn’t a good one, but it did make him smile a bit more although his eyes indicated pity and sorrow.
“Did you eat already?” the man asked again. He now stood properly, still smiling at her.
She tried to recollect her day, but she does not remember eating yet. Her stomach did not feel full, too, so she replied, “Not yet.”
The man started to talk to her caretakers, laughing as if her answer was a joke. They insisted that she just had her breakfast 5 minutes ago. Her memory was failing her these days, slowly leaving her mind empty.
The man continued to talk with her caretakers, stealing glimpses at her. She still tried to remember his name, but failed at all attempts. She listened to their conversation, expecting to hear the man’s name. Before she could remember, he bid farewell to her and her caretakers.
“Who am I, Grandma?” the man asked again before leaving, positioning himself as last time. She forced herself to remember now. Failing again and again, she smiled.
“I’m bunso (youngest child of the family),” he supplied. Now the pictures in her head became more vivid. He was her youngest nephew. She remembered him now.
The man disappeared through the door. She looked at him. She recalled his name, yet failed once again. All she knew is that she loved him, and that’s all that mattered to her. She looked out her door again. She looked beyond the festival and the passing faces. She looked beyond what her sight offered, and waited. The visit made it clearer to her. She was waiting for Death.