(27 March 2006, Lapu-lapu)
twilight, n. early evening
balcony, n. a platform projecting from a wall having an outer railing
I spent the early years of my childhood in a sugar cane hacienda. I can clearly remember the twilight there. Since our place is at the foot of the Canlaon volcano, the lengthening of the shadows of the trees signals twilight. An hour or so before twilight, we always sweep our yard clean of the fallen leaves and we usually burn them in slow fire to have heavy smoke. Smoke was essential to the fruit trees that surrounded our house. We would then wash up.
Feeling fresh after changing into clean clothing, my brother and I would sit and wait for dinner in the balcony of our house. Our house is made of nipa and bamboo. It was in the balcony where we would watch the changing color of the sky. The leaves would rustle as the cool early breeze began to blow. Some of them would fall on the newly swept yard. The sound of running waters in a stream nearby would become evident at night. Frogs would vigorously croak and at times silenced by the passing field workers that had called it a day.
The other animals started their activities too. The calls of the cicadas were seemingly monotonous while the crickets had a cadence only known to them. We kept a mongrel named Burgo. He was half pitbull. It was at twilight when he starts to be noisy. He always barked at some invisible shapes. Sometimes other children would pass by, inviting us to join them in their spider hunting. Our parents never allowed us. However, we would always have the biggest and the fiercest arachnids. My father was a better spider hunter than those boys were. Our house was also by the roadside. I would never forget the smell of fresh mud from the group of carabaos passing by fetched from their mud holes.
In the mountains, farming activities did not always cease after the sun has gone down. It was most of the time during twilight when the slash and burn farmers light up their sun-dried heaps and piles of hedges and bushes from their clearings. From where we were, the fires would look like a group of flickering orange dots of light in the mountainside.
My mother would start cooking soon after she has finished lighting our kerosene lamps. Soon enough, the aroma of food would be wafted in the air. The scent I most vividly remember is that of garlic and onions when she sauté’s something. I also associate with twilight the smell of burning moths dying in the wicks of our kerosene lamps.
Perhaps the strongest memory I have of twilight during my childhood was praying the rosary. For a time, my grandmother lived with us when we transferred to the city. There was no known escape. We would have to endure the 30-minute kneeling while reciting the rosary. After the rosary, my grandmother would reward us with stories of long ago.
I find twilight quite melancholic. Now, I seldom find the time to stop and observe my surroundings at twilight. Perhaps it is really the case with people. When we were still children, the days were longer because our minds were not occupied with things considered as matters of consequence by the grown-ups. We threw all cares to the wind. The twilight puts a momentary rest for the adventures of the day, and the adventure for the night starts. Grown-ups are already occupied with the matters of the next day.
Like the day, life has its early evening. Sadly, my grandmother is now in her twilight. It is a joy to have been part of her beautiful days. Let it be our hope that when our own twilight comes, we could happily close our eyes with the memories of well lived days.
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