Bantay, Brgy. Lipit-Tomeeng, San Fabian, Philippines

Inang’s kitchen had three large windows with wrought-iron bars spaced wide enough to admit sunlight, and since there was no glass, brilliant swarms of bougainvillea spilled onto the table. Occasionally, a neighborly arm offered a handful of fresh eggs in exchange for half a pack of Lucky Strikes. Inang, then in her early seventies, was a heavy smoker, already engaged in the early stages of a private battle with emphysema that would eventually drag her out and claim her in the open. She maintained a steady supply of cigarettes, allegedly for window bartering. No one had ever seen her smoke, not in public or in private. The truth was she took it up as a tribute to her husband—my grandfather—Alejo Disu: farmer, family man, and resolute chain-smoker, who, even on his untimely deathbed, stained the sheets with nicotine as he lay dying of pneumonia. I never knew him but am told he was a gifted conversationalist, that he could talk the rain down out of the clouds.

Want to read the rest?
Please login.
New to Narrative? sign up.
It's easy and free.
The password field is case sensitive. Account & Password Help.