Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Story Of Mothers

By Mila D. Aguilar

My son once had a dog
Not too long ago.
Her name was Helga.
She was a Labrador
Lovable and well-fed.
When she had children,
Still young and bouncy,
My son sold them, eight in all,
Keeping only one, whom he named
Sheik. Sheik it was, when
He'd grown bigger than she,
That she playfully ran away with
One day, the gate having been
Left open. Distraught, only
My prayers and his wife's
And daughter's guiding him,
My son looked far and wide for them,
Tacking wanted posters
With their pictures on walls
And trees, announcing a reward
For their return. We found
The two separately
The week after, Sheik
By a restaurant, haggard
And unkempt, Helga
In a house trembling,
Refusing to eat -- her rescuer,
A kind old woman, said.
By all accounts both
Had managed by their size
To escape from violent men
In passing jeeps.

But at a price.
Each got home days apart
Not only sobered, but
Interminably sad, as if
They had finally discovered
What kind of world they lived in.
Sheik recovered slightly
After some months, drawn
Closer to his mother
Than he had ever been,
But Helga was never the same
Again. After a year, she
Started to bleed. My son's wife
Took her to a vet twice,
Subjecting her to surgery
For the dog had cancer,
She was told. But
It couldn't be helped. Helga
Grew so thin, her big bones
Stuck out, only her belly bulging.
She could hardly move.
I would see Sheik circling round her
All day, his head hanging,
His shoulders draped
Like a sad cloak around him.
He would smell the blood
Trickling out of her the way
Angels prophesy the death of men.

And so one day
We had to bury her.
But we could not bury Sheik's
Anguish. His eyes lost
All gleam forever, his gait lost
Its youth. He started to walk
Like an old man though he was but
Four years old. Like me, up to now
He must still be dreaming
Nightly about his mother,
How they'd walk together in fun
Under the canopy of heaven,
Floating above the folly
Of the world and mortal men,
Wondering why, of all the dead
In one's life, whether it be long
Or short, mothers are missed most.

February 22, 2009
7:35 - 9:05 am

This poem was written expressly for the February 22 memorial to Mommy Adang de la Torre at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Quezon Avenue and dedicated especially to Ed and Girlie as well as all those who regarded Mommy de la Torre as their own mother.


Rain said...

If that is the case, then why don't we have a mother image of God in our Christian faith?

mda said...

Rain, God is Spirit. Siya ay walang kasarian. Siya'y parehong tatay at nanay sa atin -- buong-buong magulang, sabayang mapagkalinga at mabagsik.

Now, you will notice that I had to shift to Tagalog to say that. Tagalog pronouns are ungendered, unlike Western third person pronouns.

Of course, we could also use "They" for God, since God is Elohim, not just Eloi -- three persons in one.

RainB said...

Shouldn't we shift in the language we use then -- sa ngalan ng Ama, etc.

Having said that, the poem justifies the Filipino's adulation (if that is the appropriate word) for Mama Mary, doesn't it?

After all, He said, Ecce mater tua

mda said...

No, Rain, the poem doesn't justify the Filipino adoration of the Virgin Mary. Whatever made you think that? But you are free to interpret the poem as much as you want.

Jesus told John "Behold, your mother" for the simple reason that He knew He was going, and someone whom He trusted had to take care of her.

There is a historical and cultural reason for the Filipino adoration of the Virgin Mary aside from the Spanish insistence on it, but that is a lesson for another time. It has nothing to do with the poem.

noel berbenzana said...

I have friends who have died,
But I feel as though they're still alive,

and I have friends who are alive,
But I feel as though they are already dead