Thursday, May 19, 2005

Old Houses...

Before going to Carascal, I wrote a short piece entitled Old Houses that I sent off to a zine that I can't seem to locate anymore. That was long ago, and since then, I have revisited Carascal.

Carascal with it's air of solitude, shines in my memory and I long to revisit it again. Before I can begin to write about my memories of Carascal from my last visit, I have to recall the things that my mother used to tell me about the old house...


“Ah, but you don’t remember your greatgrandfather’s house, do you?” My mother asks me.

I shake my head, and look at her inquiringly. I want to know. My mind is an endless well of yearning, of seeking for meanings.

“Tell me, please.” I lean forward, eager to hear, about the past that helped to shape me. Avid for the words that bring life to the pictures in my mind. Words that bring me back to another time. I empty myself and listen to my mother.

“Oh, how magical those days were,” my mother says. Her voice is overladen with the tones of tears withheld. “It seemed that all we lived for was the pleasure of the moment….”

I close my eyes and seem to see, my mother, her sisters, her brothers, laughing together, and running along the beach. The waves crash on to the shore, and the wind whips away the sound of their laughter. They run into the sea, into the tide, into the waves that roll them back again, to fall to their knees on the black sand. I see my mother, her arms stretched out to welcome the waves.

I see the old house. Built of solid Narra wood. Yellow and brown, sturdy poles.

The floor gleams under the loving care of constant polish. I see the sun slanting in through the windows, dancing on the gleaming floors.

I remember one summer, spent in carefree abandon, polishing the floors with native coconut husks, the old way. That was the summer that I learned how to make the floors gleam, even as the sweat burst out from every pore.

How different it is from the way we do things today. We purchase the convenience of electronic devices, and put on fat that we have to exercise away. I think how easy it was to maintain a waist of 24 inches. Polishing the floors with our feet, the rhythm of the coconut husk on the floor, hush-hush, hush-hush, and the broom held in one hand to sweep up the dust.

We are so careless of the things that we discard. We forget the love that goes into polishing the wood. We are filled with the vastness of overwhelming tenderness and impatience. With our wanting to be out in the sun, and all the while, we are lavishing our caresses on the smooth floor, until it gleams and echoes the dancing light of the sun.

When it is done, we rush out into the morning sun and only then, do we answer the call of the sea, the waves that still crash in wild abandon on the black beach. Music that booms in our ears.

My mother recalls how that music once made her shiver and shake in fear while she slept all alone in the seventh room. She huddled under the covers of her bed, trembling and hugging her arms around her body, and all the while, the tide crashed and reverberated on the shore.

I think of the sea and I am filled with the wildness of longing to go back, to remember, to hold the moment tight in my hands. I think of running down to the sea, in the earliness of day, of rushing in to the surging, rolling tide, of the warm, wet, sticky, salty taste of sea water, as it clings to my skin. I think of running along the black sands, shouting my cares to the wind, and watching the sun as it rises to its apex, and I lift my hands to the sky - welcoming what comes.

I think of the tide rolling in. And the ocean burning with fire, as the sun sinks below the waves. Sudden darkness. If I remain there on that beach, and watch the sky… will I lose myself in the vastness of the universe that whirls above me?

I grow impatient as the days pass, wanting that moment to come, when I am face to face with the dreams that I now meet in my sleep each night.


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