My Father and His Beloved

Diandra Ditma A. Macarambon

My father used to tell me stories
of him running to shout
out the movie titles and names
of actors before the arriving
truck could announce them
on the loud speaker.

Louder hurrahs and shouting as if they’d outsmarted
the man in the truck. He swam with brothers
and friends in the majestic Ranaw, massive
to his youthful eyes, pretending to catch fish
to get a glimpse of a girl he fancied
washing clothes and dishes, smiling shyly.

Stories of songs in early evening
and walks under the calm sky, fresh air
climbing the wall or crawling underneath,
when late at night, he sneaked out to play games.
keeping away from his mother’s gaze.

When he told me these stories, it was as if I was there,
looking through my father’s eyes.
Magical Padian, full of colors and capes,
flavors and shapes, the center
of his Marawi and his stories.

He left Marawi on a plane when he was 68,
he said goodbye to his beloved,
not knowing if he’d see her again.
“I know you’ll be here,” he said to her.
“You’ll wait for me.”

She waited, holding on for as long she could.
Until they came, the black and the green, boom and blast,
her skies turned a fiery red, her air gray and ashen.
She fell to her knees, like a scorned lover. She cried out.
She trembled while those who loved her ran in fear.
Left in the dark, she was stripped of everything.

But my father came back,
wrapped in white, in an ambulance.
He was smiling because he’d come home
as promised, in his beloved’s embrace again.

A smile only for his beloved,
sealed permanently his face. We kissed him
goodbye, his still face covered in white.
As the ambulance drove away, its lights ablaze,
people followed slowly on foot, old and young.

I stole one last glance at my father’s Marawi
and not very far, I saw the little boy waving
to me before skipping off, fading as he followed
an old movie truck in the distance.
Never to return, the truck
never to be heard again.

Photo credit: Lakad Pilipinas

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