Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crab Mentality (Part 2)

May 28, 2010. 4pm
   There was a house near the beach. It looked old. It was facing the nearby road. There was a much smaller house behind it. The smaller one didn't even look like a house; it was simply four, wooden walls and a low roof. The two houses were back-to-back. The owner of the huge house had rented the shack to Chalano's mother, and he shared his garage with her. It was the first time that Chalano and his mother spent their summer vacation in the province, and they needed a place to stay.
   Their temporary home was a six-square-meter, two-room place. It had no window. Chalano knocked on the wooden door.
   The door was opened by his 40-year-old mother. As soon as he walked in, she said, "Turn around, Charlie. Let me have a look at your clothes."
   Chalano turned around. "No spots of mud, no creases. Very good," she said, with "good" on a lower tone to tell him that he was dismissed.
   A bespectacled widow with straight,  gray hair, she had always been a perfectionist. To her, everything had to be in order. 
   He left his mother at the door. There was a compact fluorescent lamp in the middle of the ceiling, and its light filled the whole room. There was a small sink to the right, and beside it was a small bathroom. His mother's blue mattress was on the floor at the far left corner of the room, beside the traveling bags that she had neatly prepared for their journey back to the city. The place had no beds when they rented it a few months ago. The air still smelled of Purefoods Corned Beef, which his mother had cooked for lunch this afternoon. He walked to the doorway that was on the other side of the room. It led to the second room. His mother had made that his bedroom.
   The second room was smaller than the first one. There was a mattress on the floor. Beside it was a tiny lamp and a bright green backpack. The mattress had cartoon patterns of yellow, smiling stars on its blue surface. It was the same mattress that he had on his bed in their house. His mother had always brought it with them whenever they went very far from home. She said that it was supposed to help him adjust to unknown environments. That was his mattress since he was five-years-old.
  It made him feel awkward whenever his mother was being so caring to him. She didn't have to fix his hair nor fix the lapels of his shirt whenever she visited him at school. It was embarrassing. Thinking about that, he felt a wave of displease as he sat down on the edge of his mattress. At the same time, he wanted to know if she really cared about him. Did she really love him? She always talked with her friends. She talked to him only about school, but she didn't listen to him whenever he talked about the things that bothered him. His friends' mothers talked to them about their peers and their feelings, but his mother never did that. He carefully removed his shoes, then he dropped himself onto the cushion. Did she really like me when I came into this world? Did she really love Dad? He lay on his back as he thought deeply.
   He glimpsed something bright. Something .... ablaze. A small circle of fire. On the wall to his right. The white flames were getting bigger. "Mother," he screamed as he ran out of his room without his shoes.
   Mother wasn't on her mattress. Not at the sink. Nowhere to be seen. She probably went out to buy something. He felt a rush of terror as it dawned on him that he was alone. He looked back at his room. The flames were starting to peer out of his doorway. 
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