Baykoy and The Only Something
This is a gripping and magical tale of a little Filipino girl who goes by an endearing nickname, Baykoy.
It’s a wild-bursting battle against her beliefs in angels and the powers of heaven as she gets to confront and experience the supernatural realms that may hold the supreme truths of death and life cycles while coping with grief and loss.
The story is told through the heart-convulsing letters of a woman to her niece, detailing her childhood in the Philippines.
Age: Four years old.
— indomitable —
The Lush Magic
Your great grandmother made me see the world through the magic of the mind. But I won’t tell you about that as of yet. As this is way more spellbinding. As spellbinding as how your great great grandmother would tell stories.
I still had to sit in grandma’s classes. Though for the time being, I wasn’t sharing a seat with the other kids yet. I was still sitting at her desk in the far-end corner of the room. She would give me a little lecture, then I would be given an exercise. Once it was all done, I had my freedom.
The freedom to be a real kid. The freedom to explore life. The freedom to discover more fears and more eccentricities.
Found in this countryside. Rich, splashy, mysterious, mystical and terrifying. While in our previous home, nothing stirred in me much. Rice fields, bamboo trees, and tropical fruits were the only big deal around. Well, not here.
Here was the land of magic that only my senses would understand. Here was the land of breathtaking phenomena that made my heart jump even before its existence flashed its bliss beforehand. Here was the land of truths leaping out of story books.
Grandma and grandpa allowed me to investigate nature. On my own. Something that I prayed would last for as long as I believed in heaven and the angels who flew all around it.
With only one strict reminder, though: don’t go too far.
Where was far? Like how far? Far enough that I wouldn’t know my way back anymore?
I had no sense of direction. Though at four years old, I was holding some kind of magic that I knew was hidden inside of me.
I would listen to my feelings.
If it were a bad feeling, something was wrong. If it were happy and there was no fear attached to it, I would be okay. If it were happy with a shake of a little scare, I would be in trouble.
So I was all set. With a hysteria of a child ready to burst out any minute.
First, I checked out our vast vegetable garden. Eggplants, tomatoes, okras, chilis, we had them all. All fresh, leafy, organic, nutritious, scrumptious veggies! That’s how your mother and I were raised in our previous home. It was also one of the spoken laws in your grandmother’s clan. Which was your great grandmother’s. And your great great grandmother’s. Now you must know the answers to some of your why-questions.
The smoldering sun stinging into my skin didn’t bother me at all. As I dared myself to tramp down the hill. Into the unknown. In the middle of the woods. With abundant trees and bushes along the way. As I followed the long trail tracks that felt endless yet enticing enough for me to keep on going.
No stopping now. No turning back either. No matter what happened, I had to know what was hidden down there. All the way down there.
The hysteria of a child ready to burst out any minute.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
The splashing of the waterfalls swooshed into my ears. I dashed all the way down to the very bottom of the hill.
I almost tumbled over along the way.
The waterfalls. Hidden away in luxurious greens. Along with its rushing river that looked tame and narrow. It appeared to be a frequent spot for the residents. And I was tempted to jump in.
I sat on a rock by the river bank and admired everything that I saw. I listened to the splashes. The birds greeted my arrival with a lot of chirping. I couldn’t see them. They were up in those trees, and I wish they would reveal themselves to me.
An idea popped in. I stood up on the rock and yodelled. It was a bad yodel. But I tried anyway. I yodelled some more, and it irritated the birds. They flew off. I caught some of them, and I had to apologize.
Then a young man’s voice barged in, “Woohoo!” It crept me right out. My chest barraged through with a lot of fears. My body quivered. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even speak anymore either.
“Woohoo!” he blurted out again. This time, in a whistling tune. And it was followed by a sinister laugh.
I was trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. So I could go for an escape, just in case.
It felt as though it was coming from behind me. So I bravely turned around.
I turned around as my mind was praying for help. That the angels would rescue me. Because my feelings had warned me about him the moment I heard his voice. Today I would meet a predator.
Or was he?
Rustling. Creaks. Creeping out of the bushes and the trees. He was getting closer towards me. I stayed put instead. And waited. I didn’t know why. But I thought I had to. Weird.
He announced himself. He capered out of the greens, with a slingshot in his hand. He was probably eleven or twelve, though he seemed to sound like a man. He looked like a normal kid. But a feeling struck up into my awareness that I shouldn’t trust him. I should only remember his face.
Remember a boy’s face. Good or bad.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
“My name’s Reynan,” the creepy boy said, “but they call me Kidlat around here.” Then he proceeded on interrogating me, so I told him who I was, and a sign of distress crossed in his face. “They were my teachers, too,” he said of my grandparents. “I was supposed to be in sixth grade this school year, but I had to quit. ‘Cause my folks can’t afford to send me to the town center. So I’m doing farm work instead. With them. And for them.” Then he warned me, “You can’t be here alone, little girl.”
“Why not?” I replied.
What he revealed to me whipped me up into revulsion. I had just found myself my perfect nightmare. Or nightmares.
There was a group of ugly women wandering around, capturing little kids. They hardly had any clothes on. They were a part of a secret tribe. The tribe could not be located. Even the authorities tried to hunt them down. They worked with black magic, so they would always stay invisible. What they would do to the captured little kids? No one knew.
There was a monster hiding in the woods. Half-human, half-horse. He also liked little kids, and he would only eat their hearts. Nothing else.
In full moons, witches would be up on your roof. If they liked what they saw, and if their human target would make them full, they would stick their tongues through a hole. Once their tongues would reach the human skin, then that human would die. Then they would steal the soul. Their favorite human targets were pregnant women. Sometimes, kids.
There was a man who would prey on kids. He looked like a fairly looking man. But he was a cannibal. He didn’t do anything for work. So he would kill people for food. And it was how he survived.
He rambled on about other ghoulish entities, too. Should I believe him? I had already heard one of these things before. Yet he made it all sound so convincing that cringed me right up. Of course, I was just a little kid. So I took it all in.
“They wouldn’t come near me anyhow,” I said, “‘cause my angels are always watching.”
And he laughed. “You don’t sound Catholic.”
“No,” I said. “I’m an Adventist.”
“Same difference,” he replied.
Then he told me he was hunting for birds. He would shoot them with a slingshot, and he hadn’t caught one yet.
I told him not to kill any animals. Or heaven would punish him. And he said the people in The Bible always killed animals and people to offer to God, and it made him angry. So then he stopped believing in anything. He made the slingshot to kill birds just to remind God that His People were also The Bad People. And that The Bible shouldn’t have been written to begin with.
Never judge a creepy boy’s mind.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
Reynan offered to walk me home. He also suggested I should have a dog if I were to venture out alone. That way I would have a faithful companion. He said he lived quite far off from the school. A lot of rice fields to go by along the way, and a few hills. He said he was never afraid of anything, even those ghoulish entities that he told me about. Because he was already a big boy, and big boys weren’t supposed to be scared of anything at all. They were only supposed to be scared of their parents and their elders.
He talked a whole lot, and I found him interesting. Now I realized that my feelings could also tell me lies. A feeling told me I shouldn’t trust him, and that I should only remember his face. But now I trusted him. So much. And it made me trust the woods, too. And everything else that might have been hiding in treacherous corners.
He also reminded me that I was just a little girl. And little girls must not do things like that on their own. Even in places that appeared to be safe and beautiful.
As we walked up the hill, we spotted the most fascinating bird I had ever seen in my entire life. It was nesting quietly on a tree branch, close by the trail track where we were on. We paused to gape at it. Amazed. Like it was sent by an angel.
“It’s kuwago,” he whispered. “And we seldom see them around.”
“How come?” I asked.
“They’re magical birds,” he replied.
“What’s so magical about them?” I inquired some more.
“Your grandfather said they keep other mammals alive,” he said.
Now I had something important to bug grandpa about. “Then you can’t kill it with your slingshot,” I told him.
He said he wouldn’t. Because the bird was special. It deserved to stay alive.
So we moved along. And I asked him when he would turn up again. He said he didn’t know. His parents just gave him time to roam around today as a reward for his hard work.
He walked me all the way to the school yard and said, “If someone would ever hurt you, I’d feel it, and you’d see me again. And then I’d kill them with my slingshot.”
I was too little to understand what he meant. But his words made me want to cry. And even up to this day, his words are still stuffed up in my heart. A feeling that never lies.
He was the good friend I wanted to have.
A chance to observe is a chance to believe.
The only something.
— Indomitable —