Arriving at the creek, Dina stopped to rest her aching feet from an hour of walk. She was dejected after an unsuccessful attempt to find work in a farm near the highway. For months now, she was unable to get any work so that she and her two children can have money to return to her parent’s place in Zamboanga.
It was already mid-morning and she hadn’t had her breakfast yet. She put on the ground the cloth bag she was carrying. It was a bit heavy with the five leches of rice that Nang Lorna, the bisayan who lived near the health center in the highway gave her upon knowing that she hadn’t had rice for some time now. She thought about her two children she left in the house with only roasted eggplant for breakfast.
She bent down to pick up her slippers, raised her skirt and steps into the cool murky creek. She quivered as the cold water rose to her naked thighs. Looking around and seeing no one, she raised her skirt more.
She looked toward the big river to her right where the creek empties its cold water and saw a log, surely washed out from the heavy rain the previous night, slowly floating downstream. She turned her head back. The image of her husband on that same river came back every time she saw big objects floating. It also rained hard that same night. It was more than a year ago. They found his body floating on the river bend where the water almost stood still. There was one gunshot wound on his chest. She heard people talking behind her about what really happened that rainy night, but she believes her husband was only setting traps for wild chicken across the river.
She was only twenty-nine years old. Her long black and shiny hair made her look a little shorter and smaller than she really was. Her face still carried that youthful look since she came to Ado’s place from Zamboanga ten years ago.
Life was supposed to be better here than in the congested streets of Zamboanga or the shorelines of her father’s place in Bolong where the smell of dried fish permanently infused in the air. Here, her hair always smelled of fresh coconut milk every time she returned from the spring to wash clothes and to take a bath.
“Andun koliwag ug nyugan nyu?” Ado would always tease her in his native Subanon dialect as the sweet smell of fresh coconut milk filled the air. He was asking how big her coconut plantation was.