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 is narrated through the heart-convulsing letters of a woman to her niece, detailing her extraordinary childhood experiences.
The Magic in Us – Part Two
Age: Five years old.
— indomitable —
Grandma surrendered to grandpa’s plea. I shouldn’t finish reading the story.
The story that grandpa wrote. Just for his fourth graders.
As grandpa listened to local news lashing out of the radio, grandma and I yielded our time to the vegetable garden.
I helped her pull weeds, though she was using a handy shovel to pluck them out. Then something bothered me. Like a life mystery. Though already a given existence. Yet still… a whodunit blow.
“Why is okra called okra?” I asked.
“Look at it,” she replied. “Examine its features, then say its name out loud.”
“It’s green. A little rough. It’s got really thin hair strands…”
“What does grandpa call you?”
“Baykoy,” I said.
“Why do you think he calls you baykoy?” she giggled.
“Because I’m like a special doll.”
“Do you see yourself as a special doll?”
I sneered. “I don’t know.”
“What makes you a special doll then?” she taunts.
It instigated angst in me. I slipped into my gloom.
“You can’t cry over that!” She kissed me on the head. “I was only trying to make a point. Of course, you will always be our baykoy. And once you’ve got its special thought, then you’d find out how we name things.”
“So why am I a baykoy?” I cried.
“Because you give us magic,” she replied.
I glistened up. “Ooh really?”
I was afraid to ask… how? ‘Cause then grandma would want me to explain it myself.
I didn’t know what their life was like before I got here. All I knew was they were always busy running the Primary School themselves. I only saw them during Christmas and summer holidays, lavishing me and your mother with a whole bunch of presents. New dresses, new pairs of shoes, crayons, coloring books and treats. Never dolls.
“How come you’ve never given me a doll yet?” I asked.
“Would you want one?” she replied.
“Aren’t all little girls supposed to have one?”
“Would you want one, though?”
I sighed. I was on the verge of another turbulent breakdown again.
She caressed my hair for comfort. She knew it. She felt it. “What would having a doll teach you then?”
“I’d look after it,” I said. “I’d take care of it really good. I’d love it.”
“Okay,” she replied. “You’ll get your magic.”
Magic? How could a doll be my magic?
That evening, right after I was done with my chore, grandma gifted me a new doll. Which should have been given to me on my birthday.
And I went crazy over it. In a rambunctious frenzy. The little girl in me screeched it all out. Like I was fully alive. Enthralled by the magic hidden in its essence. My first doll. My very first doll.
Whose name was…?
“Not sure,” I moaned.
Grandpa, grandma and I stared at it.
It had curly brown hair. It looked perky and peppy. It had a bright red dress on. It looked like the kind of little girl I’d love to be best friends with.
Kidlat and Kuwago were waiting for its name, too. I looked at them, and a name flew into my heart right away.
“Angel,” I said.
Kidlat curled down. Kuwago took a deep sigh.
Grandpa laughed over my best buddies’ cockeyed why.
While grandma was ruminating over my innocent joy.
Having a doll, knowing that I was their baykoy.
Your magic. Your angel. Love around you. Your special wing.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
I brought Angel to school with me and made sure all the kids would see it. And… oh! It became the stunner, all right.
The rabid troop fought their way around. To look at it closely. To touch it. To inspect its garment. To check out its hair. To even kiss its forehead.
As my pompous grin flashed along.
Grandma snapped at them, and they took their seats at once.
I sat at the usual desk. Her desk in the far-end corner.
“Rise,” grandma ordered.
All the kids stood up. It was time for invocation.
They lowered their heads. Eyes closed.
The customary prayer was recited in chorus.
While I was having a silent conversation with Angel. In my mind.
Kidlat and Kuwago then quietly made their entrance, heading towards my direction. Did I forget about them? Impossible. They always just tagged along, with or without my command.
What went wrong?
The class started. I listened to grandma’s lecture. She was talking about beautiful things. The most beautiful things in the world that she greatly loved.
They all listened eagerly.
I listened eagerly.
Kidlat and Kuwago decided to take a nap instead, beside each other, under the desk.
My heart… was a total wreck! As sadness roused around my chest.
So I disregarded grandma’s lecture and joined my best buddies on the floor. Kidlat rested his head on my thigh. While Kuwago erected his head, with a clever look that said, “I’m afraid I don’t like you anymore.”
Of course, it made me upset.
Kuwago curled up close to me and wagged his tail. I whispered to him, “Angel is now a part of the family, okay? Don’t you like her? She’s nice, and there’s magic in her, and she’s gonna show it to us whenever we need it.”
He respired obliviously.
“Do you even know what magic means?” I scolded him in a suppressed voice. “It protects us from all the bad things. Like witches, and all the other monsters that Reynan told me about. If we didn’t have magic, then we’d all die, and we wouldn’t be with each other anymore. Would you like that?”
He rolled his eyeballs.
“Kuwago,” I continued, “do you think I’d ever see Reynan again? Do you think he’d ever get to meet you and Kidlat soon? Do you think… he’s even… real?”
He closed his eyes.
Meanwhile, Kidlat got up, with a stabbing gaze. “Where can we find him?” I whispered.
“What are you doing down there?” Grandma snuck up on me.
I wormed my way back to the chair. “We were just having a serious talk about something.”
“You’ve made them very sad this morning,” she said.
And a big baby tantrum was about to bluster through.
No! Absolutely not! Not true at all! How could I possibly…?
I couldn’t brawl it back anymore. And so… there it was. A cry that couldn’t be subdued!
I had become the leading spectacle. Interrupting the pupils’ attentive mood.
Grandma kissed me on the forehead and held me up.
She rocked me around, with a gentle lullaby sound. And the blues went abrupt.
Ssshhh… Ssshhh… Ssshhh…
Silence. So astounding.
This was magic.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
Recess should have been my favorite school time. Just like how all the other kids would shout and vault out of the classrooms once grandpa would ring the blissful bell.
Instead, I would always find myself alone with grandma, Kidlat and Kuwago. Not because I chose to. Neither did I have to obey an order. Nor did I have to be a nerd-freak with a book in my face.
As grandma would even encourage me to go out there and play. Grandpa would check on me, making sure I was chirpy enough. Kidlat and Kuwago would also beckon me to have fun… either with them… or with them and some other good humans.
But the kids wouldn’t even invite me to hop into their games. They even refused to look at me. They wouldn’t come near me either. They would shoot me a kooky look. Like, ‘you can’t be here’ look. Or perhaps, a ‘we don’t like you’ look.
Was there something wrong with me?
Then I thought… maybe they just didn’t want to play with me ‘cause I was their teachers’ granddaughter. Maybe they were just scared that something bad would happen to me, and then they’d be in trouble for it. Or maybe I just wasn’t friendly enough.
But I was. I showed them Angel and I let them touch it. I knew I wasn’t selfish. I knew I wanted a friend. A good friend. Like Reynan.
I always thought of him.
We could have had the best adventures together.
Where could he be?
Or did he even exist? Was he real?
“Go play,” grandma said.
“But no one wants to play with me,” I groaned.
“Are you waiting for some girls to ask you first?”
“Why don’t you go out there and ask if they could teach you their games?”
“Can’t. ‘Cause they always give me a look. And it scares me.”
“Just try,” she suggested.
I followed grandma’s advice. Kidlat, Kuwago and I approached a group of first graders who were hitting a tin can with their slippers.
“Intra ko!” I blurted. “I wanna join! Can I?”
The game was suddenly brought to a standstill. And they passed each other an obscure look, then handed the decision to one pretty girl who was ogling me. I forgot that I was cradling Angel in my arms. While Kidlat and Kuwago were stepping back, with a ‘let’s go’ signal.
“You can’t,” she said. “‘Cause it’s a dangerous game. All our games are quite dangerous. We get hurt all the time. And we always go home with ugly wounds. For real.”
These daring kids. Whose ugly wounds were a result of innocence, fun and bliss. With caring friends.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
“See this?” The girl showed me a bad bruise in her knee. “That’s just from yesterday. Chinese garter.”
Wound and scar declarations rolled in before my presence:
“Hit and catch sticks!”
“There’s so much more,” the girl said. “Not only from playing all these games. We’ve got a lot of crazy fun going on out in the fields, too. Into the woods. On farms. Everywhere pretty much.”
I got curious. “Well, maybe I’d also like to get hurt like that.”
I went numb, humiliated.
The big baby tantrum cry was bullying its way out again.
They panicked, “She’s gonna cry! She’s gonna cry!”
I did! At the top of my lungs! Storming out of my kiddie pain!
It caused a staggering commotion among all the kids. Every single one of them dashed over to witness my howling performance. My fluttering weeps got them concerned, worried and terrified!
They tried to comfort me, but they were afraid to touch me for some reason.
Kidlat and Kuwago got anxious and barked around.
At once, grandma and grandpa scurried over.
“What happened?” grandpa asked them.
The first graders quavered in terror. The other kids looked confused.
“All right, everybody, get back inside,” grandpa ordered.
They all raced into the classrooms.
Grandma wiped my tears away and caressed my hair. “They didn’t hurt you, did they?” she asked.
“No,” I cried. “I wanted to get hurt with them. But they wouldn’t let me.”
Grandpa sighed. “They were just protecting you.”
I cried it out some more.
A snack pacified me. I sat at grandma’s desk, ravaging biscuits and hot chocolate. Kidlat and Kuwago were also gloating over their treats.
I tried to feed Angel, and pretended that she also enjoyed it.
And I thought of Reynan again.
If only I could have a good friend like that. A good friend who could take me to great adventures. All the greatest adventures ever. Then I wouldn’t be afraid to die at all.
I also thought of the little boy in grandpa’s story. What happened to him? What did he do? So he was carrying the sharpest pencil and a notebook to record all the interesting things he would find along the way. And if intruders would pop in, he would scare them off by telling them stuff in graphic details.
And I thought of magic. Real magic.
The magic to bring Angel to life, so I would have a good friend.
The magic to bring Reynan back to where I met him for the first time.
The magic to bring courage into my spirit to experience something awesome and dangerous, with Kidlat and Kuwago at my side.
A little girl could only dream all the magic in life.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
A luminous night. When countryside kids were still allowed to play outside. Hide-and-seek would have to be the big deal. That even the adults would also be compelled to goof it out with their little ones.
Grandpa and grandma sat on the front porch, nibbling on boiled sweet potatoes and tea. They were on a vigilant watch. As Kidlat, Kuwago, Angel and I were out in the astronomical front yard.
The dogs and I were taking turns in chasing each other. Angel was in my arms the whole time.
At one point, they caught me, with an elated jump. I fell on the ground, and the face licking attack suffocated me. I laughed so hard, though I felt a stroking pain in the back. I also knew my elbow might have had a scratch. The sting was already twiddling into my skin. It was probably bleeding. But this was my official playtime. My official game. My official childhood experience.
Validated by the stroking pain and the bleeding scratch. With Kidlat and Kuwago all over me. With Angel still pressed against my chest. With grandma and grandpa watching from the front porch. Under this luminous night.
Under the full moon.
The full moon that had been shown to me for the first time.
“Be careful!” grandpa shouted out.
I sat on the ground. Kidlat and Kuwago sat beside me. I also positioned Angel to sit on my lap.
I looked up at the moon, and I thought it was spinning.
Spinning its way down. Like it was falling.
It was getting bigger and bigger. Oh no. No no no no no.
Because once it would fall, we would all be dilapidated.
We would all die. And I wouldn’t have a chance to grow up anymore.
I wouldn’t have a chance to see Reynan again.
Angel wouldn’t have a chance to see life.
Kidlat and Kuwago wouldn’t have a chance to go for those great adventures with me.
All life would end.
I scrambled away, screaming and wailing. Kidlat and Kuwago dashed along with me. Grandpa and grandma were on their feet, flustered.
I was in a god awful fright! Grandma held me up in her arms right away, and we crashed into the chair.
“What’s wrong?” they asked.
Grandma caressed my hair, wiping my tears off with her fingers. “What happened?”
“The moon is gonna fall!” I cried. “I saw it! It was spinning and already falling! It’s gonna fall anytime now, and then we’re all gonna die!”
Grandpa laughed. Grandma poked him in the shoulder.
“It’ll never fall,” grandma softly said. “It will never ever fall.”
It still didn’t convince me. I was still hysterical. “But I saw it! I swear, I saw it! It was spinning and already falling! I saw it!”
“There’s a thing called gravity,” grandma explained. “It holds everything up there. Including the moon. That’s why it will never fall.”
The strange word tamed me up. “What’s gravity?”
“Magic,” grandpa yelped. “Gravity is magic! And magic always keeps things together… alive and happy!”
The magic in us.
The only something.
— Indomitable —