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Posts Tagged ‘uncle’

I once had the chance to swim the Pasig River when I was just about five or six, I guess.  An uncle, who was a robust teenager that time, invited by his friends, tagged me along with him one afternoon.  We walked across J.P Rizal street and descended some flight of steps going to the not-so-murky water.

Uncle led my hand and told me not to be afraid. And when we dipped ourselves into the water, I felt the river current slowly pushing its force against my fragile frame. Suddenly uncle let go of his hand, and I was left wading by myself. He just laughed and laughed, along with his friends to see me panicking and gasping for breath. When I was just about to submerge into the water, he just snatched my hand in time and landed me safely back to the steps.

I was panting heavily as I watched amazingly to uncle and his friends vigorously swimming against the river current. Hoping that I could grow instantly  and have the strength to swim as long as I wish. 

But when aunt, uncle’s big sister, learned of our little river escapade, she scolded uncle for taking me down to the river, saying that the polluted water could make me more sick.  And aunt blares her disappointment at the two of us and told  me that it is too dangerous to swim in Pasig River, and I could get myself drowned.  My mother has allowed me to stay at aunt’s home for the summer to have my routinary medical EENT checkups. 

I just kept on listening to my aunt’s endless rant to uncle and heard her say that she was really disappointed with me and could send me right away back home. But I just  smiled  and throw a toothy grin to uncle, silently thanking him for taking me down the river.

I am thanking him for expanding the fragiled radius of my being. A new-found freedom, to allay fear of not sizing up to what other boys of my age can do. I don’t want my being sickly hamper the extent of what I can do. To belong and be accepted to a fraternal brotherhood like uncle’s.  And it is a feat that begins my tearing down of the walls of my sheltered existence.  A youthful independence. 

I am thanking him, because that’s when I have learned to stand up and defend myself when I am being wronged. To keep up heading on even when the circumstances are getting against me like a fierce river current drowning all the strength I could muster.  To exceed the limitations of what my mind tells me that I can only achieve that much.

As a child then, I believe, most of us, have become warriors against our own. When we have learned how to be brave even when we were afraid and often get discouraged.  When we  are walking out there in the world,  somewhere, winning our inner battles and living uncertainly day by day, and never giving up. 

Pasig River is my Rubicon,  where a warrior child in me has been borne out of the mighty rush of the river current while bailing myself out for survival. An invisible force pushing me to edge out and discover frontiers I have never been to before, now possible and within reach.    

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My heart cries out, though no tears flow from my eyes.  But so deep a sorrow has left another scar to my being.  And a vivid reminder that I have been a foolish to reciprocate my circumstances with my short-sightedness of life. 

Uncle Rolly died a week ago.  Uncle Rolly has lived his life so many years away from the family.  We do not know his whereabouts for almost 20 full years.  He seems to have chosen a path of  a goner and never turned his back to spark any glint of communication with anyone of us. And its so sad. It’s very sad, that we never had the chance to spent time with him while he is still alive and help him get on improving his own circumstances.

This is the first time I have seen him and its kind of a quirky feeling to see him lying there on his coffin. Lifeless and cold. His steely resolve etched on the lines of his face hinting that he embraced his poverty as bravely as he could.  But he succumbed to misery.  Along with his family.

I ask Grandmom. I ask her what trigger Uncle Rolly to decide this kind of life. She said that Uncle Rolly’s father is a strict man.  Many of his children at their young adult life, stow away to exact their rebellion against him. Uncle Rolly is one of them but never came back. For so many years, he settled to a place so far away, and  tucked his children hidden from us.

Before he died, at the height of a strong typhoon Milenyo. They had a place near a dam which was totally devastated by a mudslide. 50 people died when their homes where carried away by the raging waters along with mud, fallen tree trunks and debris. Unknowing that his sons and daughter already left the place before it happened, he immediately search for them among the  piles of dead people.

He is overjoyed to know that his children were spared from this great tragedy. And days passed, while nobody has any inkling or any premonition of his death. He had his heart attack.

We also had our heart attack. To see their condition such as that.  And his childrens’ future becomes apparently rendered futile without any decent education to back them up, even for an elementary diploma. He left his five children in a state of despair, with his children uncertain where their life would lead them to.  And the mixed feelings of his children; of somewhat silently blame their father for their sorry state while also acknowledging the love that their father has for them.

Uncle Rolly is also a victim of circumstance. He tried to show his love for his children for keeping them intact at his side. He tried to proove a point how a loving father should be unlike his own father.  Afraid that fate will also exact revenge on him for abandoning his family.  But the great paradox of life, would let him see otherwise.

And it is also for me.  Letting me see that I should not question my own circumstances.  My father also tried to proove to me how a loving father should be. Though he is a disciplinarian, he only wanted for me a decent education and a civilized way of thinking and attitude.  There is none he could give me but only this.  It is a chance that I should be thankful for.  And I would not dare again blame him for the things I never had.

With Uncle Rolly’s children, it would take time for them to figure this out.  But the family has opened their arms wide this time. We just wanted to heal the wounds of time and try to do something until there is time left. We do not want our cousins wallow in their self-pity and inferiority after their father’s death.  We wanted to let them feel that they have got a family after all these years. And knowing God’s help will surely find its way for them.

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