Sunday, July 31, 2011

remembering father

last july 27th was my father's third death anniversary.  we visited the cemetery park where he and mom were laid to rest. 

the day was beautiful .

the sun was up but it was not hot. the skies were clear. wisps of cottony clouds gently sail above.  the wind just whispers. we were but a handful of families there during that day.  the park was generally quiet. the trees that adorn the park were tall and leafy and strong. the grasses were green.  there were some patches of black and brown where the fires of the lighted candles burned but they will be confidently carpeted over by green grass in due time.

the birds were of course in concert. twittering from a far distance, perhaps hidden amongst the leaves.

we laid down the flowers we've brought and said prayers for the souls of our dead. the epitaph in the tombstone read " may you always be in the Lord's Divine Keeping ".  i remember it was dad who chose this for mom. we can sense his sadness after mom died. he loved her so much. he loved us all so much.

this is how i remember him. a selfless person. the family first before his personal needs. i have not done much to make his life easy but he did not complain. his eyes always showed the light of understanding.

as i watched the candles glowing with their yellow light, i heard this poem in my inner ear --

bring me some flowers
those that are vibrant and fresh
that have not kissed graves.

when we remember someone who had died we don't recognize his life getting ended. we don't put a period to his existence. when i remember father, i let him live again.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

still thinking about music and songbirds

still can't get enough of music and songbirds. i was strumming the old guitar yesterday when out of the blue there was this whisper in my inner ear -- the wizard of oz. immediately my fingers struggled to try to make out the chords for one of my favorite songs in that classic movie. the song is called "over the rainbow".

hummed it. whistled it. still my fingers can't quite get to make the song roll out of my daughter's trusty guitar. so, what's the next best thing to do?

well, if one's memory does not serve one well, Google will. and you tube too.

and i'm glad i did the research. i always thought that it was the original singer, judy garland, who has the best version of it. yet, i found these two equally beautiful gems. i was surprised. two of the best rock guitarists of all time did their own renditions of this fascinating song which music was written by harold arlen and poetic lyrics by e.y. harburg.

this one is by eric clapton: (just paste the link on the address bar)

this one is by jeff beck:

and these are its beautiful lyrics:

Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?

now, my fingers remember the song again. i become a songbird and i fly over the rainbow in my mind.

another happy, blessed day.  thank you, o Infinite!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plans Divine, Laws Divine

while i was resting atop the roof after my gutter cleaning, i saw her again. the warbler. the brown bird which will never win any grammys.

she glided
she sliced the air
little brown wings stretched tip to tip
flapping here and there.
she ducked
she eluded
the tangled leaves and branches
she evaded.
keen navigator
no procrastinator
she reached her spot
smooth operator.
she'll feed her birdling
this fine morning
the worm in her beak keeps struggling
yet, Plans Divine, Laws Divine, are unraveling.

yes, this is what i thought.  and i am here atop the roof to be a witness to this all. the brown bird surrenders to the Divine. the birdling too. the cool wind, the hiding sun, the gray sky, they are part of this planned moment.  the worm, although trying to fight its fate, this fine morning, it, too will surrender.

there are Plans Divine, Laws Divine.

this fine morning, i, likewise will surrender to this moment. i'm here to chronicle the death of worm, the nurturing of birdling's life, and this mother songbird's performing her duty.

performing our duties, we all were. this fine morning.

this is Life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

non-grammy winner

the Infinite had smiled on me today.  well, the latest typhoon was said to be moving out but still these last few days it still drenched us with unceasing rains. now today, i felt blessed. it is raining but just in very soft drizzles. this is my off day from work and i decided to get up on the roof and rid the rusty gutters of accumulated leaves. if it ever rains, the cleaned up gutters will allow the flow of water towards the downspouts and not overflow on the wooden eaves.

i climbed up. i had no ladder so i have to get to the roof via the tree beside the house. i had to be careful since its trunk is a bit slippery on account of the drizzle. tucked behind my back pocket were a couple of black plastic garbage bags which i will use to gather the leaves.

once atop the roof, i looked around. the gutters were clogged indeed. mostly leaves from the tall avocado tree beside the house. the thin raindrops that were falling were soft against my arms but they were teasingly cold. it is morning, about eight o'clock but there is no sun, just gray clouds overhead still presumably laden with rain.

no sunbeams, so, no rainbow.

i immediately went to the task i assigned myself. clear the gutters of leaves. i did not wear any gloves.  i shoved my right hand into the leaf laden gutter and started cleaning. i grabbed a handful of leaves and thrust it inside the plastic garbage bag. the uppermost leaves were still fresh but the ones beneath were already rotting.  occasionally, a baby cockroach will dart out from beneath the leaves and crawl away to safety. i'll deal with them later when they are grownups.  also, worms, about three inches in length, slimy, slithery. i don't know how they've found their way up the roof gutters.  i just wrap them in leaves and thrust them inside the garbage bags. surely, the Infinite has different ways with the innumerable lives It is maintaining.

i was almost done with the first gutter. i felt i've crouched too long over it and decided to stretch my back for a short while. this is when she suddenly came out. this little brown bird. perhaps a robin or a ricebird. the little fella came out hopping over a delicate branch of the avocado tree. her rusty brown plumage is in contrast with the green leaves of the tree. she eyed me. perhaps i was intruding on the privacy of the little one. i looked at her. she never got scared even when i moved to press down on the accumulated leaves inside the garbage bag.  she kept flirting back and forth from the higher branch above her to the lower branch below.

she might have a nest there. i told myself. i craned my neck forward to scan the spaces between the leaves near where she stood. can't distinguish anything looking like a nest. well, i don't have the right to investigate further. she is actually keeping an eye on me. or, i might be imagining her to be. anyway, i went back to work.

this is when she started singing her shrill bird song. cascading notes only a bird can sing. some short notes, some longer trills but she surely is doing her thing.  i smiled inside. this slight drizzle, the cold, wet fallen leaves, the baby cockroaches scared of my veined hands, the slimy worms, the gray clouds overhead.  this is a moment of life. of being alive. and the entertainer, this bird, is warbling about it. this freedom that we enjoy.

she will never get any grammy award for this song but she did it. she made me happy inside and made my roof gutter cleaning an easy task.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

three handfuls of rice

"manong, pasabay! (big brother, let us hitch a ride!)"

they pleaded to the driver as the jeepney as i was riding in stopped in front of them. the driver looked them over. there's only me and another male passenger inside. there were three of them. they were not as filthy-looking and as foul-smelling as the other street children who regularly roam the streets. the driver nodded to them and they gleefully hopped inside the vehicle. 

"let's let them ride," explained the driver, "i know them. they will not cause trouble."  the other male passenger and i did not say anything. the driver knew that we assented.

 the three children seated themselves at the farthest end of the jeepney near the door. two boys and a girl. if i guessed right they could be about 9 - 10 years old. seeing that we're not doing any protesting, they engaged in light banter inside the vehicle.  what i noticed immediately was that each of them was holding a small plastic bag with something white inside. the plastic bag was knotted at the upper end to close it or seal it.  after some minutes had passed, the three had presumably gotten tired of teasing each other. all three became quiet and retreated inside their own private worlds. the two boys were looking outside the jeepney in opposite directions trying to enjoy the scenery as we passed one street corner after another. the little girl was fiddling with the plastic bag in her hand. then, in an instant, she cupped it with both hands and brought it to her mouth. she pried open the plastic bag with her yellowed teeth and started gnawing at the white stuff inside. she was eating it!
one of the boys noticed her and tapped her arm.
 "you won't have anything to eat later." he cautioned her.
"i'm starved." she replied and she kept on eating.

she ate it all. then she threw the mangled plastic bag outside the jeepney. the wind caught it and blew it away towards the rear of the vehicle. i looked at her. she still had that hungry look in her eyes. i knew she was not satisfied. i caught her eyeing longingly the plastic bag nestled in the lap of the boy nearest her. i realized what the white stuff was. rice! it was just a handful, probably about five heaping scoops of a regular spoon inside the plastic bag. probably, a kind street vendor gave them some. or, they might have bought them with the few pesos they might have begged for. i could only venture wild guesses.

the male passenger got surprised when one of the boys knelt down on the vehicle's flooring and started pawing the empty space underneath the seats. he let his right hand glide over the portion of the flooring underneath the seats. he seemed to be feeling for something. he did this almost the entire length of the seat. then he went over to the opposite seat where i was and did the same. the other boy and the girl were just observing him. suddenly, he  flashed a wide grin on his face and pulled out his hand from underneath the seat. he triumphantly held up his right hand towards his companions. 

pressed between his thumb and forefinger were two 5-peso coins. he was able to fish these from underneath the seats. coins probably dropped by unwary passengers. he tried to finish the entire length of the seat but those were the only ones he was able to find.

the jeepney stopped at a place where lots of passengers were waiting for a ride. the driver asked the children to get off. they reluctantly did. and they thanked him. they might still be a long way off from their destination wherever that may be.

as the jeepney started on i looked back at the three. one of the boys was already gnawing at his own handful of rice. the girl was looking at him pleadingly. the one who found the coins just sat on the sidewalk.

i told myself -- the street is their home. the street has its own wisdom to impart to them. they will learn its ways. if they are able to endure, they will become street-wise, or, street-smart.

i've read a lot of stories about wealthy people. exceptional individuals who started from scratch and became rich and even famous.
many of them were street-smart.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

the mind poetic

the sea awakens
and kisses sand
the sun spreads glitter
on waves at sea
the wind caresses
child's ebony hair
child discovers
an empty shell.

the child picks it up and cradles it in her soft little hands. she fondles it like a mother fondles her baby. the child smiles, eyes full of wonder. where did the owner of this shell go? she shakes the shell hard trying to dislodge anything that might be housed inside. nothing came out of it. the child looked at the inviting emptiness inside the shell. she pressed it against her ear.

she scampers forth to where her mom and dad were sitting.

"i found an empty shell, mommy!" she proudly announced still pressing it against her ear.
"be careful, daughter," her dad cautioned, "there might be something inside, might bite you."
"no. no one's home," she gladly explained, "and you know what, dad? i can hear the sea inside!"
"you don't need that to hear the sea, honey," her mom protested, "we're here, sitting, and there's the sea!" she pointed to the vast expanse of undulating blue greenish waves in front of them.
"i know," the child answered, "but the sea sings differently inside this shell."

the child ran off to where her plastic pail and shovel was. she scooped some sand into the red pail until it was half full. then gently she placed the empty shell on top of it.  she declared to herself, "i will return it back to where i picked it up before we leave so the owner can sleep peacefully inside it when night comes."

they say this is how poets are born.