The landscape at home is getting very horrifying, like the prospect of Hades. I thought a home is a place where you can take a rest and get a good night’s sleep but no. At seven thirty to eleven o’clock at night every night, sometimes extending down to two in the morning, I keep my vigil, waiting for someone to come home. Had I been a bit of the prayerful kind, I would have started saying the novenas, or the holy rosary or the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which surprisingly for my agnostic soul, I found rather comforting once or twice when I tried it. Even if I can’t actually make sense of half of what I was chanting, it took away some of the pain off my chest or even eased the terrible headache I’ve been carrying along for days. Isn’t that why the patriarchs invented it?
But I hate patriarchs. I am sure I am either an agnostic, or a pagan so Sheilfa lent me Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” or Ana Castillo’s “Peel My Love Like An Onion.” She even followed that up with a whole bunch she left at the Bagobo Hotel the following week, which included Flannery O’Connor’s letters, “The Habits of Being;” “Three,” a collection of Flannery’s novels and short fiction; Edith Wharton’s “Old New York,” Katherine Anne Porter’s “Ship of Fools” and Willa Cather’s “O, Pioneers!” You would think I have been reading these while keeping my nightly vigil, waiting for the precious one to come home. But no, I would oftentimes be too tense to read. I would keep repeating whole paragraphs five times in a row, and still, could not make heads or tails of what I am reading. It doesn’t help that my eyesight sight blurs. When the kid finally toned down this week and started coming home on time without a trace of liquor in his breath, I started to feel relieved and happy. But then, Ja started banging things in the kitchen, saying words that are difficult to take. I was worried the kid might flee off again and renew the habit.
The kid confided to me about something when Ja started his temper tantrum. Ja had no idea how it was to learn of things like what the kid was saying. He flew into a rage over the unwashed plates. But what do I care about plates when my son was listening to suicide music?
I watched Sean doing his assignment. Sean’s face looked soft under the light and he was really working hard on his assignment. I did not want to shatter that look on his face. I wished I could get hold of old women’s novenas and moan, “Sa langub nga among gipuy-an imo kaming panabangan,” just the way my old grand aunts from Capiz used to chant when they were still alive. I also wanted to get hold of the Latin version they used to read, chanting, ora pro nobis, every end of the line. But the strange sounds they made and even the strange clothing they wore, those dark skirts reaching down the floor, used to turn me off as a girl, I ended up avoiding them and not learning anything. Now, I began to be intrigued by that cave they kept talking about. This choking, sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach, all remind me of the inexplicable horrors of caves.