Baykoy and The Only Something
This is a gripping and magical tale of a little Filipino girl who goes by an endearing nickname, Baykoy.
The story is narrated through the heart-convulsing letters of a woman to her niece, detailing her extraordinary childhood experiences.
The Beautiful and Bad Surprises – Part One
Age: Six years old.
— indomitable —
A magical triumph over deadly pneumonia still wouldn’t get me a full cup of ice cream. Grandma and I had to share it.
The fusion of mango, avocado, melon and chocolate flavors gave me a surprising conclusion.
I could only savor the chiefly wonder of chocolate.
How could that be?
We watched the zinging rush of the young and old, the impassioned merchants, around the town center.
This would have to be the first time that I had been back since the long walk with grandpa. Neither one of them would dare to take me along anymore. Not with my constant big baby tantrums.
Grandma went to pick up some groceries by herself. So grandpa and I sat on the primary bench to wait while observing the swarming crowd.
He was still feasting on his cup of ice cream, taking in all the flavors, one at a time. “One flavor after another,” he said. “It’s how you get to appreciate them all. Hmm.”
“Sir! Sir!” Two dashing young lads bolted over to us, grinning.
Grandpa was left aghast. “Why, look who we got here!”
They introduced themselves respectively, “Joselito… Dante…”
“Yes, I remember,” grandpa replied. “So how’s the cotton fruit business been? More secret deals happening on the side or what?”
“We’re doing mangoes, too,” Joselito said.
“And bananas,” Dante said.
“And pineapples,” they said in chorus.
“You’re doing Miyong’s pineapples?” grandpa assumed.
The young lads nodded as their faces sulked in. “You know him?” Joselito asked.
“Know him?” grandpa perked up. “He taught me how to live!”
The young lads were a bit flabbergasted, though amused at the same time. Then they granted me a smile.
I shied away, clinging onto grandpa’s arm. Despite their good-hearted nature.
“She just got out of the hospital,” grandpa said. “This one’s a tough doll, all right.” And he kissed me on the head.
Then a noble flap of an angel set in before my eyes.
Joselito and Dante gave me seventy-five centavos each, taking grandpa’s breath away. Along with flashing tears of bliss.
“You boys didn’t have to do that,” grandpa said.
“It was a good and happy day today, sir,” Joselito replied, smiling.
“A rich and happy day!” Dante seconded.
And the two young lads scrammed away, hollering.
It was a joyous celebration of the accomplished good.
A beautiful surprise of life magic.
I counted the coins in my hand. “Grandpa, I’m rich!”
“Very rich!” he replied. “So then… what was the answer to the Math problem?”
“What was it again?” I asked, confused.
“If I remember correctly…” he pondered on it, “I think it was… the sack of cotton fruits was four pesos. The merchant’s deal was one peso and fifty centavos off…”
“Nah, I still wouldn’t get it.” I frowned.
“How much have you got?”
“They gave me seventy-five centavos each.”
“It gets a lot trickier than that after a long while,” he laughed.
I cringed. “Ooh really?”
The accomplished good.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
Angeline’s father picked us up.
The bumpy tricycle ride didn’t displease me anymore.
We took the shortcut, and it wouldn’t be long until we reached home.
I couldn’t wait.
I couldn’t wait to rescue Angel, read Angeline’s letter and open the present.
I couldn’t wait to read the book that Emmy Lou gave me.
I couldn’t wait to sneak out for a picnic adventure by the waterfalls with Kidlat and Kuwago.
I couldn’t wait to be just another kid around.
I couldn’t wait to write more letters.
Letters. I should have written letters to them as well.
But how come they never wrote to me, anyway? Was life in the city really that hustling? What did their house look like?
What did their home feel like?
I missed them. Did they ever miss me?
Did they know I almost died?
Did they even feel my deep sadness?
Did they ever think of me once in a while?
I supposed they had been struggling to build a good life. I didn’t even know what they were doing for a living. I didn’t know which school my little sister was going to either, and whether she had already made some good friends or not.
It felt like they never even existed anymore.
It also felt like I wasn’t a part of their family at all.
It had been so long, so long.
The heart and the spirit had now come to realize.
The mind would still want to be left behind.
Grandma gave me biscuits to munch on along the way. “I’ve got you milk this time,” she said. “Will you be okay with that?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
To heaven’s surprise…
… “Woohooyyy!!!” grandpa buoyed up.
The tricycle pulled over, and familiar voices uplifted the bright and happy day a lot more than the heart and the spirit could have ever wished for.
“Jesus, Mary, Joseph,” grandma gasped.
Grandma and I hopped off of the tricycle.
Instantaneously, innocent bliss… the greatest innocent bliss picked me right up!
Mom and dad greeted me with hugs and kisses. And… Nene, my cute little sister, who had gotten perky and more healthy now, was in an all-smile rush.
What a beautiful life magic surprise!
“What made you come for a sudden visit?” grandpa wondered.
“I couldn’t sleep,” mom said.
Grandma and grandpa then exchanged looks, elevated by their parental-instinct strike. Though I could tell it would take a whole lot of courage before they could spill the beans to them.
A whole lot of courage.
How could I ever tell them about my grief and deepest sadness? About all the spiritual encounters? About all the magical occurrences that had marveled me away? About Angeline? About Jiji?
About the heart and the spirit?
About the mind?
About the knowing clock? My knowing clock?
About letters, presents and Angel?
About angels, god and heaven?
About grandma and grandpa’s immense love and care?
About it all? All!
And how could I ever tell them…
… that I wasn’t just another kid around?
There are special things
you will know
that are only meant
for the heart and the spirit
The only something.
— Indomitable —
We got home now.
A home with grandma and grandpa, with mom and dad.
A home with my cute little sister, your mother.
My home. By the vast vegetable garden. Nearby the only Primary School in town.
Kidlat and Kuwago were the happiest campers upon seeing me. They were also just as zippy as I introduced them to the other loved ones. And they could also feel their good hearts like a lightning nut.
The house was full of glitzing joy all of a sudden.
The elders, of course, got busy with household functions as soon as we stepped inside. For a feast was about to be primed up.
I asked Nene a series of curious questions. About their life in the city. About her school. About what she liked to do.
She never spoke much.
Your mother had never changed much at all.
Her beautiful and graceful silence was always just a doll.
So I told her about Angel, and that we should go look for it.
We ran outside and scoured the area. Nowhere. Impossible! How could that be? It shouldn’t have disappeared like that… unless!
Did someone find her? Did someone steal her?
Where did Angel go? Who got her? Who kidnapped my doll?
I scrambled to grandma and grandpa, with my big baby tantrum! “ Angel’s gone! She should have been out there! But she’s gone, she’s gone! Somebody took her away!”
“You didn’t find it?” grandpa said.
“I’ve told you, she’s gone, she’s gone!” I cried.
“It’s in your bed, squished next to your big pillow,” he replied, “just waiting for you to come back home.”
I froze in shock. It was exactly what Angeline said to me. It wasn’t a lie after all.
Angels in dreams were real. Angels were real. All of it was real.
I knew. I knew more of my own truths now.
That I wasn’t just another kid around. I had never been just another kid around. I could never be.
I had the greatest love. I had a good heart. I had a lovely life.
That was, once upon a time, full of deep sadness.
Now, though enduring grief forever, I had just unraveled more powers in me.
The power to create magic. Hidden inside all the good hearts.
Nene and I went to see Angel in bed.
Oh, I hugged and kissed it at once. How I missed it resting on my chest the whole time.
Nene hugged and kissed it, too. They loved each other instantly.
“Have you got a doll in the city?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Have you got any toys at all?”
“What about books?”
A sad truth dawned on me. Oh, hopefully they had a good life, as good as it should ever be.
I gave Nene my Angel to be the guardian of her heart’s throne.
And when she uttered ‘Thank you’ in a gentle and innocent tone, my good heart had been pressed against a magical stone.
An extraordinary dream is either a warning or a proclamation from heaven.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
Nene hardly said a word.
I was eager to find out anything and everything about the city, but I just couldn’t get her to say something at all.
She was five years old now, just a year younger than me. But… how could she not respond to my questions?
Was she mute most of the time? Could she even understand what I was saying? Did she even like me? Did she care? Or was there something that I could do to get her to engage in a conversation with me somehow?
The elders were still whizzing around in the kitchen, and I couldn’t wait for the mouthwatering buffet anymore. All veggie and root-crop dishes, a whole bunch of garlic rice… and fish?
¡Escabeche Lapu Lapu! Hmm.
Though I was a little suspicious… but… could it be… something… delicious?
As grandma, grandpa and I had already given up on pescetarianism after my outrage over the slaughtered pig.
With mom, dad and Nene around, I should get through it just fine. Without the big baby tantrum to pound.
Maybe we should sneak out.
Nene and I took the trail tracks down to the waterfalls. Kidlat and Kuwago also tagged along.
All throughout the sauntering trip, I told her about my deep sadness and grief. Only in a subtle way.
I told her about:
The kids in school and why they wouldn’t play with me.
The stories that I had read, and the book that Emmy Lou gave me.
Meeting Reynan, and how we found each other again.
Meeting Angeline, and how she died the next day.
The disturbing spectacles, and my skeptical talk with a pastor.
Seeing and hearing Angeline, like magic.
Experiencing life beyond, like magic.
Talking to Jiji, like magic.
All this. My deep sadness and grief.
Also, how much I missed her. How much I missed being with them. How I would wonder about their life in the city.
And she never said a word. Not even a moan. Neither a simple groan.
Now I felt foolish sharing it all. Though I still loved her. Oh, very much so. I would always adore her no matter what.
Finally, we got to our destination. The scintillating joy of nature should, at least, make her feel something.
Like… some kind of an… innocent bliss. Somehow.
Instead, she sat on the rock and observed the waterfalls. Expressionless. Yet in a thoughtful vagary.
I sat beside her and just waited for her to utter a word.
Or even show me a quirky trick. Being a goofball wouldn’t hurt.
Nothing. This was a hopeless attempt after all.
… she looked at me, teary-eyed.
Please say something delightful and nice.
The look in her eyes…
… was already a sad surprise.
Silence only bears one thing.
Either a sad surprise or a happy swing.
The only something.
— Indomitable —
“Do you remember it, too?” Nene asked.
“Which one?” I replied.
“Sitting in the funeral van.” Droplets of suppressed anguish fell on her face.
I put my arm around her, with resilience to share. “Yes,” I said. “It was one of the things that made me really sad everyday.”
I wiped her tears off with my fingers. “We were very little then,” she cried. “And we’re still very little, right?”
“Yes,” I sobbed, though I must find a way to keep strength and courage together. For her, this time. “We were very little then, and we’re still very little now.”
“Then we shouldn’t have remembered the bad stuff this much.”
“Yes, we shouldn’t. But sometimes, the angels do something to make us feel better somehow.”
“I don’t believe in them anymore.”
“Jiji is an angel, that’s why we should believe in them.”
“Of course, he’s an angel now ‘cause he never cried.”
“So people who cry can never be angels at all once they die?”
“People who cry and yell and punch and are always angry can never be angels, and must die.” There was a sense of rage in her words. “They should all die. They must die.”
I was taken aback. “You see them a lot in the city?”
“Yeah,” she muttered. “And we live next to dad’s folks’ house. And there’s always shouting, and they’re hurting each other a lot, and they hate us, and they’re just really bad people. Both of them are evil people. They must die now. They’re just really bad people. That’s why I don’t believe in angels anymore.”
“Do they hurt you?” I staggered.
“No. But they hurt mom and dad sometimes. Especially mom. We see them everyday ‘cause we have to go past their house every time we have to go somewhere. They’re just really evil people. Really bad people. And I wanna hurt them back, too. I don’t like it there at all. They’re evil and bad and just… ugly! Like witches! I feel like they can eat anyone alive just by staring at them.”
“Do you wanna stay with me and grandma and grandpa instead?”
“I can’t. ‘Cause I have to protect mom and dad. If they get hurt so bad, then I’d go bad, too, and do something to hurt them back.”
I knew right here and then that this conversation would traumatize me for the rest of my life.
How could I ever save her? How could I ever save them all?
Why would they even live in the city, anyway?
What had they found in that scummy place that got them to stay?
I wiped off Nene’s tears with my hand and hugged her tight.
Yes. We were very little then. Still very little now.
And we shouldn’t have remembered all the bad stuff this much.
We shouldn’t endure all the bad stuff this much either.
All we could only wish for…
… was good silence.
And angels to help us keep on fighting.
Never demean your dignity.
Never demean your good heart.
You are your own angel.
Give it a wing start.
The only something.
— Indomitable —