Love in the time of Ba­cu­naua

Panay News - - OPINION -

XII. BED­TIME STORY was not her words that he lis­tened to, but her voice; for de­spite all his ig­no­rant ac­tions that hurt her, he truly adored her.

* Loved, lived in, and lost, Matt’s bed­room as a child was painted an un­for­get­table aqua­ma­rine.

Li ghted by a n over­head in­can­des­cent lamp, and a night lamp on the bed­side ta­ble.

He had mem­o­ries: his young self and Mercedes just fin­ished read­ing “The Leg­end of Isla Pu­lang Pasayan” in bed.

One more time, Grandma, Matt begged. Please read it to me one more time.

Mercedes shook her head, al­beit lov­ingly. Please. Pretty, pretty please?

* How many times do we have to read this story un­til you go to sleep, Matty Matt?

Just one more time, please? Prom­ise! Prom­ise? Proh-mise! How can a grand­mother refuse the twin­kling glee in her grand­son’s eyes? She opened the book.

* No! cried Matt. From the very start, he said. Mercedes gave him a puz­zled look. Matt closed the book, pointed to the ti­tle.

Mercedes bar­gained with a smile, All right, you read that part.

Beam­ing with pride, Matt read, The Leg­end of Pu­lang Pasayan.

Mercedes cor­rected him, The Leg­end of Isla Pu­lang Pasayan, stress­ing the un­read ‘Isla.’

* Per­haps Matt was too young to be di­ag­nosed with dys­lexia back then.

Mercedes never sus­pected be­cause, al­though he couldn’t spell them, Matt was pretty good with names of di­nosaurs.

The Leg­end of Isla Pu­lang Pasayan, Matt re­peated hur­riedly as he opened the book.

Mercedes read: To my beloved grand­son, Ma­teo, who wants a pet baku­nawa.

* The first spread of the pic­ture book was an un­der­sea pic­ture.

On the up­per left hand side was the green lush is­land with white sand beaches. Ev­ery­thing be­low it was just lots of blues, greens, and aqua­marines of the sea.

There were also yel­low starfishes, a big oys­ter with pink pearl bed, lots of blue- and- vi­o­let shrimp, multi- col­ored corals, a pair of clown­fish.

( Mercedes told Matt that the clown­fish’s sci­en­tific name i s

ocel­laris. Matt liked sci­en­tific names of fishes and Am­phiprion di­nosaurs.)

On the lower right hand side, the coiled half tail of which is later re­vealed as … the baku­nawa, the blue-green sea dragon.

* Mercedes read from the book, Once upon a time, many, many full moons ago, there was an is­land without a name.

It was sur­rounded by the deep blue sea, which was al­ways calm and smooth every sea­son of the year.

Even when storms and ty­phoons raged in the sky, the sur­face of the sea was as quiet as quiet can be.

* She opened the book to the sec­ond spread.

Still a largely blue- and- green illustration with the sea mon­ster— its eyes and mouth red, its scales more iri­des­cent—stretched around the whole two pages, as if chas­ing a school of shrimp.

The other crea­tures of the sea seemed to be shrinking or scoot­ing away. The big oys­ter had clammed up.

* Then, one mid­sum­mer’s day, Mercedes continued, a school of naughty shrimp played a harm­less prank on Baku­nawa, the hideous sea mon­ster who usu­ally slept soundly in the depths of the deep blue sea.

Ev­ery­one knows that it is wiser to play a trick on a drunk than on some­one who is sound asleep.

But shrimp have smaller brains than peo­ple.

So when the sea mon­ster was awak­ened by their silly prank, the shrimp came face to face with a rag­ing baku­nawa who chased them fu­ri­ously around the ocean.

* Matt opened the book to the third spread.

The illustration had more reds and yel­lows now on the lower left

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