It Took Us So Long To Get HereAlbert Abonado
December 13 I say we walk to my uncle's home in the Philippines, but I should really say to my father's old home. I suppose I could say the place my father was raised except that doesn't account for all the concrete and aluminum replaced since then, the additional plumbing, the absent water buffalo. I could say where I no longer cross ditches or where I once bathed in the rain or where I watched a pig slaughtered for the first time. They gagged the pig with a large stick shoved down its throat before slitting its neck open and afterwards children bounced a balloon made from its bladder against their knees and thighs. January 3 "Which one is he again?" is a question I admit is probably not the most appropriate response when offered a position like best man at a wedding overseas, and, when I consider the statement now, I should have refrained from asking right away before I spent some time figuring out if I really did forget about him like I suspect I did or if he was just being elusive, but asking anyway was a kind of confession that didn't require forgiveness, a way to say without saying so that last year's trip to the Philippines felt like a stroll through a country full of shades, mostly full of sun and lightning and the taste of fresh shellfish. Besides, I needed to know if he had the voice that reminded me of my favorite sandwich or the one with the very egg-like personality. I just hoped he wasn't the one who liked to talk with a mouth full of meat. When I dream of that one, all I see are teeth. January 9 Once, because the walls of the remodeled home were so thin, the whole family listened to my grandmother's urine hitting the porcelain rim of the toilet. It wasn't a steady sound but more of a trochee or iambic, depending on where you stood and while we waited for the sound to dissolve we thought about the music it resembled, if a famous singer like Lea Salonga could pull off a song to this beat, although we kept that part to ourselves. November 23 Despite the surprise I felt finding my grandfather's coffin in the living room, I thought the body looked good if we ignored the heat and the poor makeup job. Granted, they kept him sealed behind glass so I couldn't get close enough to really inspect the body or hold his wrist, and I wanted to brush from his collar the stray patch of powder they used to color his cheeks, adjust the hue of his lips, but all things considered, at least he didn't smell, which makes me feel optimistic since I'll be sleeping in the room right across from him and the last thing any of us wants is to sit down to our meals and be reminded of a body decomposing in the same room. I preferred to think of him as someone who got bored and passed out from watching the episode of Survivor that's taken six months to get to the Philippines, who prefers taking his naps behind thin glass with a vase full of flowers sitting on his chest, and because everything was so good, I didn't think about the gash in his head. It must have been like a little moon escaping his scalp when he slipped and fell in the bathroom, which according to one relative, would have never happened if he had been living in America.
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