Life’s a fairy tale. We may miss the way along our journey and find ourselves lost in the darkest caves and valleys. Yet, even deep into the dark, there lies a ray of light. We don’t have to look for it. In time, it will reveal itself. When the time comes, we just need to open our hearts to see it…
Life’s a Fairy Tale
“Hi, Tiya Agnes. How was your day? Is everything fine?”
Tiya Agnes was Tatay’s younger sister.
During the first few weeks after Tatay was discharged from the hospital, there seemed to be a party in the house every day. Our neighbors came to visit him from time to time, others stayed for hours engaging one another in conversations which covered everything: religion, politics, showbiz, and gossip, name it. My relatives took turns in spending the night with us. It was such a relief. The hectic daily routine left no time for grieving.
All Alone by Myself in the Dark
As days passed by, however, the number of visitors dwindled, many became few, and the few became none. The same happened with my relatives who helped me to watch over Tatay at night. Of course, that was to be expected. These people had their own lives to live, their own battles to fight, their own concerns to take care of, their own issues to deal with.
It was such a difficult situation for me. I couldn’t have enough sleep. I would awaken in spans of a few minutes, either because Tatay needed something or simply because of a horrifying nightmare. The unholy alliance of pity and anxiety took away my appetite. “What an effortless way to lose weight,” I would say as I forced myself to eat enough for I knew that I needed to gather as much energy as I could if I were to see through the day.
What worsened my plight was that I wasn’t earning. Even if I wanted, I could not work since I couldn’t leave Tatay. Tatay was in such a precarious state that losing sight of him even in a matter of seconds posed an extreme danger. My kind-hearted neighbors and relatives brought us food. But I knew, their generosity had limits too. Besides, I was not comfortable to live a life which survived on the charity of others. I just felt that it was demeaning. For the time being, though, it was a demeaned life I was more than willing to sustain.
I felt all alone by myself in the dark, broken and hopeless. If I could just disappear in an instant and banish into oblivion… if only the world would stop turning… if only time would stand still… But life wasn’t taking a pause; it kept moving on. Like it or not, I had to endure the unbearable pain by myself all alone in the dark.
Glimmer of Hope
I was holding my tears back as I watched Tatay sleeping when I heard someone calling from the outside. When I went out, I was surprised but so glad to see Tiya Agnes. That was the first time that she came to visit Tatay, about a month passed since Tatay got out of the hospital. Though I’d always hoped, I already gave up on the idea that she would ever come by to see Tatay.
It had been several years that the two were not on good terms. The enmity between them could be traced back as far as when they were still kids. Lolo Boy, their father, was a classic male chauvinist. He thought of women as nothing but servants. So, all attention was given to Tatay. Tatay always got the choice cuts while Tiya Agnes scrambled for what fell from the table, so to speak. Thus, the two was never known for closeness which could be expected of only two siblings. Instead, Tiya Agnes harbored resentment for the two guys. Tatay, on his part, managed to emulate Lolo Boy’s male chauvinism and regarded Tiya Agnes as ill-mannered and defiant. The final blow, however, which severed whatever ties blood made between them, was when Tatay foiled the plan of Tiya Agnes to elope with her boyfriend. Since then, they had never talked to each other. Perhaps, what accentuated her anger was that she had never been into a relationship ever again. That she never married was something for which she held Tatay responsible.
I accompanied her to Tatay. Once they started talking to each other, exchanging how are you’s and I’m sorry’s, I immediately went out of the house. I didn’t have time for melodramatics. I already had more than enough of my own.
Deep into the Dark Lies a Ray of Light
After a while, Tiya Agnes called me. She told me that she would be staying with us so that she could help me take care of Tatay. For the first time in along time, I cried out of joy. It felt like a new page of my fairy tale opened. All I wished was for her to pay Tatay a visit, hoping that in the process they would come to, at least, a civil relationship. Yet, here they were. They asked forgiveness from and they forgave each other, without doing an accounting of whose fault what. Here they were, making a brand new start, free from anger and animosity, sheer love between siblings healing the wounds inflicted in them by the circumstances of their birth.
The following day, Kapitan Teo, our Barangay Captain, came. The Barangay Secretary vacated her position as her family was moving to another place. Kapitan Teo thought I might be interested. I couldn’t believe the timing. Had he come a few days before, I would have obviously no other alternative but to decline. But considering that Tiya Agnes was already with us, and I figured that she was more than competent to look after Tatay, I readily said yes. At least, I would be earning something. That would be a big help for our finances.
Just as Kapitan Teo left, Nanay Rosa arrived. She just arrived from Negros, where she visited her family.
“Beth, did Pablo touch the anthill at the back of your house?” Nana Rosa asked. She sensed that the anthill was the abode of a family of dwarfs. It appeared that the Prince Dwarf was harmed when Tatay scraped a portion of the anthill a few days before he started feeling sick. The King Dwarf supposedly punished Tatay for hurting his son. No amount of medication could improve tatay’s condition. The only way for Tatay to recover was to secure the forgiveness of the King Dwarf, which could be done through a ritual.
“What a tale!”, I initially reacted in silence. But, what was there to lose?
After the ritual, Nanay Rosa continued to treat Tatay with a combination of select leaves, herbs, and oil. It was easy to laugh off Nanay Rosa’s diagnosis and theories as absurd and ridiculous. However, the fact that Tatay slowly improved was hard to explain.
In a few weeks, Tatay was already able to walk around by himself. His aura also changed. I started seeing sparks in his eyes and smiles on his face, manifestations of a positive outlook re-inhabiting him.
With the situation easing, I was able to expand my horizon. I became active in the church and more involved in the barangay. I also handled tutorial classes for grade schoolers in our town.
Light Wanes but Never Withers
As I pondered, I realized that life was not that bad after all. I was still grieving for Nanay. I was still agonizing over Tatay’s condition. I was still feeling bad about the loss of my college dream. But there were positive things to consider. And I’d rather look at the brighter side of life.
“Everything has been fine. You should be surprised.” Tiya Agnes excitedly whispered. “Pablo spent a number of minutes walking around the garden this morning. And he is back to his talkative self.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of joy. A friend once said: “Life’s a fairy tale. We may miss the way along our journey and find ourselves lost in the darkest caves and valleys. Yet, even deep into the dark, there lies a ray of light. We don’t have to look for it. In time, it will reveal itself. When the time comes, we just need to open our hearts to see it.”