Lying down on the trimmed grasses of their garden like we used to do,
Staring at the perfectly aligned Tres Marias that she would call the “I love you” stars,
I didn’t notice my tears running down my face.
I didn’t notice that she shared the moment of crying with me.
Only sniffing and groaning, neither of us talked.
Almost the same silence seven years ago,
But we’d rather both smile while facing each other-
Just as the two mythical creatures who lived in
And arose from the bamboo in an old, old tale-
And then my lips would softly and swiftly collide into hers,
As a diving man would plunge into a welcoming and glimmering sea.
And the sea-gull’s flock would spread out to the unseen heaven.
But it was over.
If she only accepted my life, my origin, me as a Kaagan
Just like the older Kaagans accepted Islam,
When they embraced the Great Book and the Day of Resurrection.
When the shariffs, the knowledgeable ones sailing from Maguindanao and Jolo,
Swung their paddles into the seas of Mindanao
To arrive at the lands of the innocent pagans and preach.
A hailing sailing to the shores of Davao,
Triumph did they receive in capturing the hearts of my ancestors,
As though they had successfully made them fall in love with Islam.
While I was nothing but a failure.
And I envied them –
Because I’ve never been successful in capturing her heart.
I tried hard to save her from the mistaken belief,
But the potion – the poison in a portion
Of her heart was too strong.
My attempts had been hopeless.
The similar panorama when Muslim travelers arrived–
Almost a successful enlightenment but not enough.
Paganism continued, worshipping its concealed god, Tagallang.
Like what she did, Mandaya and Mansaka did not believe in what I believed.
We could’ve been wedded in my place.
I, in a long white abaya with a Muslim cap, and she,
Under a mysterious covering of hijab.
A wedding blanketed with a delusive bliss.
Everything could’ve been perfect.
And as the celebration of the wedding would follow,
Symphonies of combined sounds that the kulintang, gong, and barabad would produce,
Played by old Kaagan ladies,
And an old couple would dance to the rhythms.
Fingers spread, legs bent, faces at their finest projections.
And everyone would be impressed.
Folded money bills would be inserted between their fingers,
Yet the dancing would never be disturbed.
I could’ve shown everything to her,
She could’ve been impressed too, but everything was just a failed dream.
I shut my eyes for seconds and opened subtly.
The Tres Marias shone blurry to my sight, the flowing tears filter,
And I never even cared to wipe them,
Or maybe I was too naïve to even notice them,
The stars were dead and dull dots above, and we were both hopeless.
It was hard to move and end the night. But I should do
What I’d thought was right. I stood, leaving her crying and crying
For it would be the last time for her and me.
And “Goodbye” was the only spoken word in the night when the Tres Marias shone.
Nassefh Macla studies at UP Mindanao.