Juxtapositions on Water

1. My uncle has given up his fight against lung cancer. "Tanggap ko na 'to," he said. There were waves of people talking to my uncle. I rarely go to family gatherings, so I had to ask my father who's who. That one, he said, with the cane, is his Tito Perry.

2. The old man, upon his departure, whispered something about their life in Pasig, and how he could still remember everything from his life in the 1960s. I wish the man didn't wither; there would be no pithiness, no room for a story with much imagination.

3. In the attic, on a hot afternoon day, I found myself rummaging after a certain baby picture in a beach in Honolulu, 1996. The face I had was a look of a kid who had just tasted the salt of the water and found it peculiar. Until now I think of water as neutral: not salty, not painful.

4. My aunt from San Francisco had stayed for ten days and left after seeing our hometown, Obando, sinking in chest-deep floods. There were only pedicabs, creaks of rotten wood as they gradually shift with the tide (or the non-tide, the dikes inefficient) and corpses of pet dogs and cats, foul and floating.

5. The house in Obando is an obra maestra of our late grandfather--he made sure it would stand the test of time. "It was one of the elevated houses back then," my father said, in a bus at Saturday night.

6. Manila is bustling with people and malls, yet etched in our memory were hulks of abandoned childhood--the musk of an afternoon tan, the dinners.

7. My cousin had named his daughter Summer--had thought of it as apt, as flowery.

8. My cousin assists my uncle to those occasional trips to the comfort room. It's better than the midnight screams of help, my Dad used to tell me. How morphine dulled his sense of importance.

9. There are yet to be cloudy days, an afternoon thunderstorm, and at some days in the household when my father copes with the clouds of life, his sinaing: most of the time burned, parched, or soggy.