November 1 is “Araw ng mga patay” Filipino which means “The day of the dead.”
So I’ll dedicate this post for the one important person, I can’t forget…
Back in the late-80s, when I was about 3 years old, I live in the back of the barn, turn into a makeshift entertainment room. The barn had a huge heavy television screen where the owner showed films every night for 4-5 hours (2 or 3 films).
The audience sat in the benches facing the TV, and in the back of the benches was a bamboo bed about 100cm wide x 200cm length. That’s where we lived. Our clothes and other stuff are under the bed. My father and Renaldo, my 2-year-old brother, lay on the bed day in and day out because of malaria.
Whenever the evening comes, we become a part of the show for people who comes in to watch films.
Renaldo hated the loud sound, and it was up to me to soothe him since my mother is out the whole day until the evening trying to get some small income. I have nothing to eat for almost the whole day. I spend my free time waiting for other kids to drop their empty snack wrappers, hoping that I can scrape some leftovers.
Because of improper care (which I blamed myself for a long time), my one-year-younger brother died. At two, Renaldo caught many other sicknesses after malaria.
One day, my mother went out like normal and I was happy that my brother seemed at peace. Renaldo usually cries and whine, but that day he sleeps with a peaceful look on his face. Despite the hunger of not eating again the whole day, my naïve 3-year-old self covered Renaldo’s cold body with a blanket and kiss his forehead.
Later that day my mother return with other people and horrified me when they stuffed my brother in a wooden box and locked it with nails.
No one explained anything to me, my mother just yelled at me when I tried to stop them. It was a nightmare. In my head, the men who put my brother in the box was the reason Renaldo died.
I thought I’d never get over it. But I did. A short time after Renaldo’s death, my father recovered. Life got better. I moved on, but the pain remain to this day. Each time I think of my brother, I feel like crying. How bad he must have felt back then. No food, no medicine, and on top of it suffering from malaria and bronchitis and other sicknesses, and ultimately cancer…
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