Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The way I see it

The previous year, when Pa’s symptoms had petered down a bit and then, were gone for a while, I used to go home almost every week to see how he and Ma were coping. 
Pa would be too surly, and would harangue me with insults that reminded me of an unhappy childhood. Instead of being shaken, I’d take the chance to roam around the neighborhood with my camera, scouting for good pictures. It was the year of the drought, the strongest El Nino to have hit this part of Asia, and I would reach as far as the neighboring sitio of New Dumanjug and further up to the next barangay of Upper B’la to take photos of the grasses that had browned and turned to powder under the coconut trees.
One day, I came back after sundown to show him some of the photos. As I was doing it, I was bracing for what kind of insults and hurting words he would again hurl at me.
“Unsa na (What are those)?” he asked about one of my shots. “Lubi (Coconuts),” I said. “Nganong nagtuwad (Why are they upside down)?” he asked. “Because that’s the way I see them,” I said.
Then, as we scanned my other shots, he also saw another picture of coconuts against the blue sky. “Why are you shooting them?” he asked in Bisaya. “Because they’re beautiful,” I said. 
For him, who spent his whole life as a coconut farmer, the sight of coconuts must be as common as the calluses in his hands.
But at that moment, staring at my shots, he did not say anything.
His silence punctuated everything.

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