The Long Trip to Itay’s Heart

By Pol Arellano, 2008

Inay woke me up early today.

She wiped the sand off my eyes and told me to get up. She went to my wooden closet and took out one of my prettiest dresses, the ones I wear to special occasions, like when lolo died last summer. My dress is so pretty, so red, like a mad asteroid. Or that yummy-looking apple in Inay‘s old recipe book.

She told me to get up, and stop pretending to sleep already, because she wasn’t “in the mood”. I was a good pretender. She just won’t admit it.

Get up, she yelled, we’re going on a trip.

But I’ll ruin my pretty dress on the trip, I mumbled. Our old car has very lumpy seats. I sometimes think that all my lost things ended up underneath its icky green seats. Like my striped fat cat, Ninglat, and my pink and purple spin top.

It also smells bad. Like bagoong, pandan, eucalyptus leaves and Inay‘s cologne gone wrong.

No worries, the trip won’t be long, Inay said as she pulled me out of my three-legged bed. Get up, she said, her nostril slightly dancing.

Where are we going? I asked.

We’re taking a drive to your Itay’s heart. We’re going to look for something there. Inay said as she fixed my blanket.

Okay. I said. But it sounded like Hohkhaay because my yawn got in the way of my okay.

We got in the lumpy car and drove for an eternity. Inay lied. I guess she was a better pretender than me.

Our car moved like an old man, walking with a stick in one hand, on the bumpy, crisscross road.

Inay gave me a plastic bag just in case I had an “accident.” I made a face and pretended to make puking sounds but stopped when I almost vomited my pan de sal and salted eggs.

After singing “Bahay kubo” a hundred thousand trillion times, Inay told me to knock it off. She said we were near Itay’s heart. Finally. But Inay was a good pretender, so I started to sing a made-up song about pretending. In the song, a black, furry and gassy dog named Jun-Jun was peeing everywhere. In the end he married and got kittens for kids. Inay laughed and told me that I could be the next Lino Kamo. I told her that it wasn’t a very funny joke.

We’re here, Inay said.

I stirred. I fell asleep. I was about to say something but my throat felt scratchy. I looked out the window and saw nothing but darkness and outlines of willowy trees. Their branches seemed to be dancing to the tune of some elegant music. I wish I were a tree. So then I could hear.

Inay went out of the car. I went after her. She held my hand and in the darkness, I saw her eyes. They were luminous than fireflies, fierier than the sun. Inay has very pretty eyes.

We walked. And walked. And waaaallkkkkeeeeddd.

I hate walking.

We saw giant roosters, three of them were dead. The living ones were making noises like a backed-up toilet.

We passed by a row of beer soldiers. Thousands of them lined up the path, with cold piercing stares. But it wasn’t too long before they softened up to us. Their eyes smiled as they sang a song about a man who’s celebrating his birthday. They weren’t good singers.

We went inside a house made of cards. In it was a dog made of chips. The dog was cute but he made too much noise.

After walking, and walking and waaaallkkkkinggg, Inay stopped.

She announced that we were going home.

She pulled her hair back, smiled at me, and led the way back to our lumpy car.

I wish I were one of the trees. I wish I could hear the music. I closed my eyes to make the wish come true. I read that in a nursery book. In school. I closed my eyes. I promised not to take coins from Inay’s wallet. I promised to do all my homework. I promised to eat yucky ampalaya.

I opened my eyes.

But I still can’t hear the music.

The trees, they were still moving lines in the darkness.

But Inay’s eyes looked like dead fireflies. Like a cowardly sun.

I closed my eyes and wished that I were never born.

12 Responses

  1. Wow! this is brilliant, beautiful in a deviant way.

  2. 🙂 Thanks.

  3. hanep to ah… parang sarap illustrate mga trabaho mo! ang sarap! sana magka time! na eexcite ako… teka! cr lang ako…

  4. Hahaha! Sige, gawa tayo ng libro. Tayo nila Grae at Reyzer. 🙂

  5. Oh, by the way. This piece reminds me of The Pond Moonlight.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pond-Moonlight

  6. That’s perfect! You nailed it! 🙂

  7. i think i’m beginning to love your blog….
    i’m not a good writer though ( not even close.. yet) but i love it when i read stuff like this.. how the words start to paint a picture in my head… then they begin to move… turning every scenes into a movie 🙂

    nice! keep writing….

  8. Thanks Bong. 🙂

  9. I closed my eyes and wished that I were never born. (di ba dapat I was never born?)

  10. anyway there’s still discussion going on between i was and i were. hehehe

  11. i guess nothing’s wrong because-> “If I were” (the past subjunctive) is appropriate in stating conditions that are contrary to fact.

    “If I was” is appropriate in stating conditions that are not contrary to fact. Here you might say that the truth or falsity of the condition is not certain.

    Go, go, go, Pol. Love ur article. I’m learning more and more.

  12. Angel, thanks for your interest in my stories. Pardon me if I commit grammatical mistakes, I’m still in the process of learning the English language. 🙂 Thank you for bearing with me and my stories. 🙂

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