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Footnote to Youth by Jose Garcia Villa

The sun was salmon and hazy in the west. Dodong thought to himself he would tell his father about Teang when he got home, after he had unhitched the carabao from the plow, and let it to its shed and fed it. He was hesitant about saying it, but he wanted his father to know. What he had to say was of serious import as it would mark a climacteric in his life. Dodong finally decided to tell it, at a thought came to him his father might refuse to consider it. His father was silent hard-working farmer who chewed areca nut, which he had learned to do from his mother, Dodong's grandmother. I will tell it to him. I will tell it to him. The ground was broken up into many fresh wounds and fragrant with a sweetish earthy smell. Many slender soft worms emerged from the furrows and then burrowed again deeper into the soil. A short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodong's foot and crawled calmly over it. Dodong go tickled and jerked his foot, flinging the worm into the air. Dodong did not bother to look where it fell, but thought of his age, seventeen, and he said to himself he was not young any more. Dodong unhitched the carabao leisurely and gave it a healthy tap on the hip. The beast turned its head to look at him with dumb faithful eyes. Dodong gave it a slight push and the animal walked alongside him to its shed. He placed bundles of grass before it land the carabao began to eat. Dodong looked at it without interests. Dodong started homeward, thinking how he would break his news to his father. He wanted to marry, Dodong did. He was seventeen, he had pimples on his face, the down on his upper lip already was dark--these meant he was no longer a boy. He was growing into a man--he was a man. Dodong felt insolent and big at the thought of it although he was by nature low in statue. Thinking himself a man grown, Dodong felt he could do anything. He walked faster, prodded by the thought of his virility. A small angled stone bled his foot, but he dismissed it cursorily. He lifted his leg and looked at the hurt toe and then went on walking. In the cool sundown he thought wild you dreams of himself and Teang. Teang, his girl. She had a small brown face and small black eyes and straight glossy hair. How desirable she was to him. She made him dream even during the day. Dodong tensed with desire and looked at the muscles of his arms. Dirty. This field work was healthy, invigorating but it begrimed you, smudged you terribly. He turned back the way he had come, then he marched obliquely to a creek. Dodong stripped himself and laid his clothes, a gray undershirt and red kundiman shorts, on the grass. The he went into the water, wet his body over, and rubbed at it vigorously. He was not long in bathing, then he marched homeward again. The bath made him feel cool. It was dusk when he reached home. The petroleum lamp on the ceiling already was lighted and the low unvarnished square table was set for supper. His parents and he sat down on the floor around the table to eat. They had fried fresh-water fish, rice, bananas, and caked sugar. Dodong ate fish and rice, but did not partake of the fruit. The bananas were overripe and when one held them they felt more fluid than solid. Dodong broke off a piece of the cakes sugar, dipped it in his glass of water and ate it. He got another piece and wanted some more, but he thought of leaving the remainder for his parents. Dodong's mother removed the dishes when they were through and went out to the batalan to wash them. She walked with slow careful steps and Dodong wanted to help her carry the dishes out, but he was tired and now felt lazy. He wished as he looked at her that he had a sister who could help his mother in the housework. He pitied her, doing all the housework alone. His father remained in the room, sucking a diseased tooth. It was paining him again, Dodong knew. Dodong had told him often and again to let the town dentist pull it out, but he was afraid, his father was. He did not tell that to Dodong, but Dodong guessed it. Afterward Dodong himself thought that if he had a decayed tooth he would be afraid to go to the dentist; he would not be any bolder than his father. Dodong said while his mother was out that he was going to marry Teang. There it was out, what he had to say, and over which he had done so much thinking. He had said it without any effort at all and without self-

consciousness. Dodong felt relieved and looked at his father expectantly. A decrescent moon outside shed its feeble light into the window, graying the still black temples of his father. His father looked old now. "I am going to marry Teang," Dodong said. His father looked at him silently and stopped sucking the broken tooth. The silence became intense and cruel, and Dodong wished his father would suck that troublous tooth again. Dodong was uncomfortable and then became angry because his father kept looking at him without uttering anything. "I will marry Teang," Dodong repeated. "I will marry Teang." His father kept gazing at him in inflexible silence and Dodong fidgeted on his seat. "I asked her last night to marry me and she said...yes. I want your permission. I... want... it...." There was impatient clamor in his voice, an exacting protest at this coldness, this indifference. Dodong looked at his father sourly. He cracked his knuckles one by one, and the little sounds it made broke dully the night stillness. "Must you marry, Dodong?" Dodong resented his father's questions; his father himself had married. Dodong made a quick impassioned easy in his mind about selfishness, but later he got confused. "You are very young, Dodong." "I'm... seventeen." "That's very young to get married at." "I... I want to marry...Teang's a good girl." "Tell your mother," his father said. "You tell her, tatay." "Dodong, you tell your inay." "You tell her." "All right, Dodong." "You will let me marry Teang?" "Son, if that is your wish... of course..." There was a strange helpless light in his father's eyes. Dodong did not read it, so absorbed was he in himself. Dodong was immensely glad he had asserted himself. He lost his resentment for his father. For a while he even felt sorry for him about the diseased tooth. Then he confined his mind to dreaming of Teang and himself. Sweet young dream.... ------------------------------------------Dodong stood in the sweltering noon heat, sweating profusely, so that his camiseta was damp. He was still as a tree and his thoughts were confused. His mother had told him not to leave the house, but he had left. He had wanted to get out of it without clear reason at all. He was afraid, he felt. Afraid of the house. It had seemed to cage him, to compares his thoughts with severe tyranny. Afraid also of Teang. Teang was giving birth in the house; she gave screams that chilled his blood. He did not want her to scream like that, he seemed to be rebuking him. He began to wonder madly if the process of childbirth was really painful. Some women, when they gave birth, did not cry.

In a few moments he would be a father. "Father, father," he whispered the word with awe, with strangeness. He was young, he realized now, contradicting himself of nine months comfortable... "Your son," people would soon be telling him. "Your son, Dodong." Dodong felt tired standing. He sat down on a saw-horse with his feet close together. He looked at his callused toes. Suppose he had ten children... What made him think that? What was the matter with him? God! He heard his mother's voice from the house: "Come up, Dodong. It is over." Suddenly he felt terribly embarrassed as he looked at her. Somehow he was ashamed to his mother of his youthful paternity. It made him feel guilty, as if he had taken something no properly his. He dropped his eyes and pretended to dust dirt off his kundiman shorts. "Dodong," his mother called again. "Dodong." He turned to look again and this time saw his father beside his mother. "It is a boy," his father said. He beckoned Dodong to come up. Dodong felt more embarrassed and did not move. What a moment for him. His parents' eyes seemed to pierce him through and he felt limp. He wanted to hide from them, to run away. "Dodong, you come up. You come up," he mother said. Dodong did not want to come up and stayed in the sun. "Dodong. Dodong." "I'll... come up." Dodong traced tremulous steps on the dry parched yard. He ascended the bamboo steps slowly. His heart pounded mercilessly in him. Within, he avoided his parents eyes. He walked ahead of them so that they should not see his face. He felt guilty and untrue. He felt like crying. His eyes smarted and his chest wanted to burst. He wanted to turn back, to go back to the yard. He wanted somebody to punish him. His father thrust his hand in his and gripped it gently. "Son," his father said. And his mother: "Dodong..." How kind were their voices. They flowed into him, making him strong. "Teang?" Dodong said. "She's sleeping. But you go on..." His father led him into the small sawali room. Dodong saw Teang, his girl-wife, asleep on the papag with her black hair soft around her face. He did not want her to look that pale. Dodong wanted to touch her, to push away that stray wisp of hair that touched her lips, but again that feeling of embarrassment came over him and before his parents he did not want to be demonstrative. The hilot was wrapping the child, Dodong heard it cry. The thin voice pierced him queerly. He could not control the swelling of happiness in him.

You give him to me. You give him to me," Dodong said. ------------------------------------------Blas was not Dodong's only child. Many more children came. For six successive years a new child came along. Dodong did not want any more children, but they came. It seemed the coming of children could not be helped. Dodong got angry with himself sometimes. Teang did not complain, but the bearing of children told on her. She was shapeless and thin now, even if she was young. There was interminable work to be done. Cooking. Laundering. The house. The children. She cried sometimes, wishing she had not married. She did not tell Dodong this, not wishing him to dislike her. Yet she wished she had not married. Not even Dodong, whom she loved. There has been another suitor, Lucio, older than Dodong by nine years, and that was why she had chosen Dodong. Young Dodong. Seventeen. Lucio had married another after her marriage to Dodong, but he was childless until now. She wondered if she had married Lucio, would she have borne him children. Maybe not, either. That was a better lot. But she loved Dodong... Dodong whom life had made ugly. One night, as he lay beside his wife, he rose and went out of the house. He stood in the moonlight, tired and querulous. He wanted to ask questions and somebody to answer him. He w anted to be wise about many things. One of them was why life did not fulfill all of Youth's dreams. Why it must be so. Why one was forsaken... after Love. Dodong would not find the answer. Maybe the question was not to be answered. It must be so to make youth Youth. Youth must be dreamfully sweet. Dreamfully sweet. Dodong returned to the house humiliated by himself. He had wanted to know a little wisdom but was denied it. When Blas was eighteen he came home one night very flustered and happy. It was late at night and Teang and the other children were asleep. Dodong heard Blas's steps, for he could not sleep well of nights. He watched Blas undress in the dark and lie down softly. Blas was restless on his mat and could not sleep. Dodong called him name and asked why he did not sleep. Blas said he could not sleep. "You better go to sleep. It is late," Dodong said. Blas raised himself on his elbow and muttered something in a low fluttering voice. Dodong did not answer and tried to sleep. "Itay ...," Blas called softly. Dodong stirred and asked him what it was. "I am going to marry Tona. She accepted me tonight." Dodong lay on the red pillow without moving. "Itay, you think it over." Dodong lay silent. "I love Tona and... I want her." Dodong rose from his mat and told Blas to follow him. They descended to the yard, where everything was still and quiet. The moonlight was cold and white.

"You want to marry Tona," Dodong said. He did not want Blas to marry yet. Blas was very young. The life that would follow marriage would be hard... "Yes." "Must you marry?" Blas's voice stilled with resentment. "I will marry Tona." Dodong kept silent, hurt. "You have objections, Itay?" Blas asked acridly. "Son... n-none..." (But truly, God, I don't want Blas to marry yet... not yet. I don't want Blas to marry yet....) But he was helpless. He could not do anything. Youth must triumph... now. Love must triumph... now. Afterwards... it will be life. As long ago Youth and Love did triumph for Dodong... and then Life. Dodong looked wistfully at his young son in the moonlight. He felt extremely sad and sorry for him.

Wedding Dance By Amador Daguio Awiyao reached for the upper horizontal log which served as the edge of the headhigh threshold. Clinging to the log, he lifted himself with one bound that carried him across to the narrow door. He slid back the cover, stepped inside, then pushed the cover back in place. After some moments during which he seemed to wait, he talked to the listening darkness. Im sorry this had to be done. I am really sorry. But neither of us can help it. The sound of the gangsas beat through the walls of the dark house like muffled roars of falling waters. The woman who had moved with a start when the sliding door opened had been hearing the gangsas for she did not know how long. There was a sudden rush of fire in her. She gave no sign that she heard Awiyao, but continued to sit unmoving in the darkness. But Awiyao knew that she heard him and his heart pitied her. He crawled on all fours to the middle of the room; he knew exactly where the stove was. With bare fingers he stirred the covered smoldering embers, and blew into the stove. When the coals began to glow, Awiyao put pieces of pine on them, then full round logs as his arms. The room brightened. Why dont you go out, he said, and join the dancing women? He felt a pang inside him, because what he said was really not the right thing to say and because the woman did not stir. You should join the dancers, he said, as ifas if nothing had happened. He looked at the woman huddled in a corner of the room, leaning against the wall. The stove fire played with strange moving shadows and lights upon her face. She was partly sullen, but her sullenness was not because of anger or hate. Go outgo out and dance. If you really dont hate me for this separation, go out and dance. One of the men will see you dance well; he will like your dancing, he will marry you. Who knows but that, with him, you will be luckier than you were with me. I dont want any man, she said sharply. I dont want any other man. He felt relieved that at least she talked: You know very well that I wont want any other woman either. You know that, dont you? Lumnay, you know it, dont you? She did not answer him. You know it Lumnay, dont you? he repeated. Yes, I know, she said weakly.

It is not my fault, he said, feeling relieved. You cannot blame me; I have been a good husband to you. Neither can you blame me, she said. She seemed about to cry. No, you have been very good to me. You have been a good wife. I have nothing to say against you. He set some of the burning wood in place. Its only that a man must have a child. Seven harvests is just too long to wait. Yes, we have waited too long. We should have another chance before it is too late for both of us. This time the woman stirred, stretched her right leg out and bent her left leg in. She wound the blanket more snugly around herself. You know that I have done my best, she said. I have prayed to Kabunyan much. I have sacrificed many chickens in my prayers. Yes, I know. You remember how angry you were once when you came home from your work in the terrace because I butchered one of our pigs without your permission? I did it to appease Kabunyan, because, like you, I wanted to have a child. But what could I do? Kabunyan does not see fit for us to have a child, he said. He stirred the fire. The spark rose through the crackles of the flames. The smoke and soot went up the ceiling. Lumnay looked down and unconsciously started to pull at the rattan that kept the split bamboo flooring in place. She tugged at the rattan flooring. Each time she did this the split bamboo went up and came down with a slight rattle. The gong of the dancers clamorously called in her care through the walls. Awiyao went to the corner where Lumnay sat, paused before her, looked at her bronzed and sturdy face, then turned to where the jars of water stood piled one over the other. Awiyao took a coconut cup and dipped it in the top jar and drank. Lumnay had filled the jars from the mountain creek early that evening. I came home, he said. Because I did not find you among the dancers. Of course, I am not forcing you to come, if you dont want to join my wedding ceremony. I came to tell you that Madulimay, although I am marrying her, can never become as good as you are. She is not as strong in planting beans, not as fast in cleaning water jars, not as good keeping a house clean. You are one of the best wives in the whole village.

That has not done me any good, has it? She said. She looked at him lovingly. She almost seemed to smile. He put the coconut cup aside on the floor and came closer to her. He held her face between his hands and looked longingly at her beauty. But her eyes looked away. Never again would he hold her face. The next day she would not be his any more. She would go back to her parents. He let go of her face, and she bent to the floor again and looked at her fingers as they tugged softly at the split bamboo floor. This house is yours, he said. I built it for you. Make it your own, live in it as long as you wish. I will build another house for Madulimay. I have no need for a house, she said slowly. Ill go to my own house. My parents are old. They will need help in the planting of the beans, in the pounding of the rice. I will give you the field that I dug out of the mountains during the first year of our marriage, he said. You know I did it for you. You helped me to make it for the two of us. I have no use for any field, she said. He looked at her, then turned away, and became silent. They were silent for a time. Go back to the dance, she said finally. It is not right for you to be here. They will wonder where you are, and Madulimay will not feel good. Go back to the dance. I would feel better if you could come, and dancefor the last time. The gangsas are playing. You know that I cannot. Lumnay, he said tenderly. Lumnay, if I did this it is because of my need for a child. You know that life is not worth living without a child. The man have mocked me behind my back. You know that. I know it, he said. I will pray that Kabunyan will bless you and Madulimay. She bit her lips now, then shook her head wildly, and sobbed. She thought of the seven harvests that had passed, the high hopes they had in the beginning of their new life, the day he took her away from her parents across the roaring river, on the other side of the mountain, the trip up the trail which they had to climb, the steep canyon which they

had to cross. The waters boiled in her mind in forms of white and jade and roaring silver; the waters tolled and growled, resounded in thunderous echoes through the walls of the stiff cliffs; they were far away now from somewhere on the tops of the other ranges, and they had looked carefully at the buttresses of rocks they had to step ona slip would have meant death. They both drank of the water then rested on the other bank before they made the final climb to the other side of the mountain. She looked at his face with the fire playing upon his featureshard and strong, and kind. He had a sense of lightness in his way of saying things which often made her and the village people laugh. How proud she had been of his humor. The muscles where taut and firm, bronze and compact in their hold upon his skullhow frank his bright eyes were. She looked at his body that carved out of the mountains five fields for her; his wide and supple torso heaved as if a slab of shining lumber were heaving; his arms and legs flowed down in fluent muscleshe was strong and for that she had lost him. She flung herself upon his knees and clung to them. Awiyao, Awiyao, my husband, she cried. I did everything to have a child, she said passionately in a hoarse whisper. Look at me, she cried. Look at my body. Then it was full of promise. It could dance; it could work fast in the fields; it could climb the mountains fast. Even now it is firm, full. But, Awiyao, I am useless. I must die. It will not be right to die, he said, gathering her in his arms. Her whole warm naked naked breast quivered against his own; she clung now to his neck, and her hand lay upon his right shoulder; her hair flowed down in cascades of gleaming darkness. I dont care about the fields, she said. I dont care about the house. I dont care for anything but you. Ill have no other man. Then youll always be fruitless. Ill go back to my father, Ill die. Then you hate me, he said. If you die it means you hate me. You do not want me to have a child. You do not want my name to live on in our tribe. She was silent. If I do not try a second time, he explained, it means Ill die. Nobody will get the fields I have carved out of the mountains; nobody will come after me.

If you failif you fail this second time she said thoughtfully. The voice was a shudder. No no, I dont want you to fail. If I fail, he said, Ill come back to you. Then both of us will die together. Both of us will vanish from the life of our tribe. The gongs thundered through the walls of their house, sonorous and faraway. Ill keep my beads, she said. Awiyao, let me keep my beads, she half-whispered. You will keep the beads. They come from far-off times. My grandmother said they come from up North, from the slant-eyed people across the sea. You keep them, Lumnay. They are worth twenty fields. Ill keep them because they stand for the love you have for me, she said. I love you. I love you and have nothing to give. She took herself away from him, for a voice was calling out to him from outside. Awiyao! Awiyao! O Awiyao! They are looking for you at the dance! I am not in hurry. The elders will scold you. You had better go. Not until you tell me that it is all right with you. It is all right with me. He clasped her hands. I do this for the sake of the tribe, he said. I know, she said. He went to the door. Awiyao! He stopped as if suddenly hit by a spear. In pain he turned to her. Her face was in agony. It pained him to leave. She had been wonderful to him. What was it that made a man wish for a child? What was it in life, in the work in the field, in the planting and harvest, in the silence of

the night, in the communing with husband and wife, in the whole life of the tribe itself that made man wish for the laughter and speech of a child? Suppose he changed his mind? Why did the unwritten law demand, anyway, that a man, to be a man, must have a child to come after him? And if he was fruitlessbut he loved Lumnay. It was like taking away of his life to leave her like this. Awiyao, she said, and her eyes seemed to smile in the light. The beads! He turned back and walked to the farthest corner of their room, to the trunk where they kept their worldly possessionhis battle-ax and his spear points, her betel nut box and her beads. He dug out from the darkness the beads which had been given to him by his grandmother to give to Lumnay on the beads on, and tied them in place. The white and jade and deep orange obsidians shone in the firelight. She suddenly clung to him, clung to his neck as if she would never let him go. Awiyao! Awiyao, it is hard! She gasped, and she closed her eyes and huried her face in his neck. The call for him from the outside repeated; her grip loosened, and he buried out into the night. Lumnay sat for some time in the darkness. Then she went to the door and opened it. The moonlight struck her face; the moonlight spilled itself on the whole village. She could hear the throbbing of the gangsas coming to her through the caverns of the other houses. She knew that all the houses were empty that the whole tribe was at the dance. Only she was absent. And yet was she not the best dancer of the village? Did she not have the most lightness and grace? Could she not, alone among all women, dance like a bird tripping for grains on the ground, beautifully timed to the beat of the gangsas? Did not the men praise her supple body, and the women envy the way she stretched her hands like the wings of the mountain eagle now and then as she danced? How long ago did she dance at her own wedding? Tonight, all the women who counted, who once danced in her honor, were dancing now in honor of another whose only claim was that perhaps she could give her husband a child. It is not right. It is not right! she cried. How does she know? How can anybody know? It is not right, she said. Suddenly she found courage. She would go to the dance. She would go to the chief of the village, to the elders, to tell them it was not right. Awiyao was hers; nobody could take him away from her. Let her be the first woman to complain, to denounce the unwritten rule that a man may take another woman. She would tell Awiyao to come back to her. He surely would relent. Was not their love as strong as the river?

She made for the other side of the village where the dancing was. There was a flaming glow over the whole place; a great bonfire was burning. The gangsas clamored more loudly now, and it seemed they were calling to her. She was near at last. She could see the dancers clearly now. The man leaped lightly with their gangsas as they circled the dancing women decked in feast garments and beads, tripping on the ground like graceful birds, following their men. Her heart warmed to the flaming call of the dance; strange heat in her blood welled up, and she started to run. But the gleaming brightness of the bonfire commanded her to stop. Did anybody see her approach? She stopped. What if somebody had seen her coming? The flames of the bonfire leaped in countless sparks which spread and rose like yellow points and died out in the night. The blaze reached out to her like a spreading radiance. She did not have the courage to break into the wedding feast. Lumnay walked away from the dancing ground, away from the village. She thought of the new clearing of beans which Awiyao and she had started to make only four moons before. She followed the trail above the village. When she came to the mountain stream she crossed it carefully. Nobody held her hand, and the stream water was very cold. The trail went up again, and she was in the moonlight shadows among the trees and shrubs. Slowly she climbed the mountain. When Lumnay reached the clearing, she cold see from where she stood the blazing bonfire at the edge of the village, where the wedding was. She could hear the far-off clamor of the gongs, still rich in their sonorousness, echoing from mountain to mountain. The sound did not mock her; they seemed to call far to her, to speak to her in the language of unspeaking love. She felt the pull of their gratitude for her sacrifice. Her heartbeat began to sound to her like many gangsas. Lumnay thought of Awiyao as the Awiyao she had known long ago a strong, muscular boy carrying his heavy loads of fuel logs down the mountains to his home. She had met him one day as she was on her way to fill her clay jars with water. He had stopped at the spring to drink and rest; and she had made him drink the cool mountain water from her coconut shell. After that it did not take him long to decide to throw his spear on the stairs of her fathers house in token on his desire to marry her. The mountain clearing was cold in the freezing moonlight. The wind began to stir the leaves of the bean plants. Lumnay looked for a big rock on which to sit down. The bean plants now surrounded her, and she was lost among them.

A few more weeks, a few more months, a few more harvestswhat did it matter? She would be holding the bean flowers, soft in the texture, silken almost, but moist where the dew got into them, silver to look at, silver on the light blue, blooming whiteness, when the morning comes. The stretching of the bean pods full length from the hearts of the wilting petals would go on. Lumnays fingers moved a long, long time among the growing bean pods.