Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Tabada: Light


SOMETHING about summer’s light stirs the sap.

One morning, my feet uncharacteristically turned to the street leading away from our home. Kitkat, our feral dam, was chewing the kibble with her usual measured, contemplative air. A neighbor had risen earlier and cleared the street of dead leaves.

What is it about a deserted street in the greyness of a summer’s dawn? I left behind our communicant cat, my broom and canister of kibble. I left behind our home, a sleeping spouse and dogs much affronted to be left out of the jaunt.

I had in the backwoods of my mind my sons’ reminders to walk for wellness but I doubted if my feet were set on being dutiful the moment it swerved for streets unknown.

Kitkat’s daughter Wiggy accompanied me for a few meters until she pounced away on her own exploration. The houses I passed had a closed-in shuttered look, with only dogs irked to be penned in cracking the eggshell-stillness of dawn, sharp and shrill in hectoring the intruder.

I paused before a tree with kapok-like fruits hanging from its bare outspread branches. None of the wispy filaments were on the ground but I remembered the heavy, lumpy pillows I slept on as a child.

Sometimes, a seed surfaced in the kapok fibers. At bedtime, I searched with my fingers until I found the seed outlined by the pillow cover and rubbed it like a worry bead. This was how I fell asleep, never finishing my prayers.

I reached a street sloping downhill, with a cement mixer making a gallant, though portly silhouette against the overgrowth and construction chaos. Remembering they were clad only in cotton, not chainmail, the legs chose prudence and turned for home.

On the way back, I passed again some twine left on the street by men who whistled every afternoon for wind to send off their kites. The husband joined these long, intent discussions on whether a garbage bag is better than paper for kite-making, or if a bumble bee or a dragonfly soars higher.

Foraging for kitchen twine for a grand “tutubi na saranggola (dragonfly kite),” the husband suddenly remembered a childhood friend who taught him how to unfold the brown paper pouches used to hold pan de sal, cut off excess paper with one tug of a twine and affix coco midrib filched from a broom onto the pan de sal wrapper with stale rice grains rubbed to a paste.

Keep the kite light so a breeze can send it off, remembered the naïve schoolboy, who had assembled Japanese paper, barbecue sticks, yarn, scissors, and glue.

Stooping for the twine to bring home, I saw that a third “string” turned out to be the old skin sloughed off by a foot-long snake. This sojourner shared my pickings: travel light.


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