BLUE BLOOD OF BIG ASTANA
Although the heart may care no more, the mind canalways recall. The mind can always recall, for there are always things to remember: languid days of depressed boyhood; shared happy days under the glare of the sun; concealed love and mocking fate; etc. So I suppose you remember too.
Remember? A little over the year after I was orphaned, my aunt decided to turn me over to your father, the Datu. In those days, datus were supposed to take charge of the poor and the helpless. Therefore, my aunt only did right in placing me under the wing of your father. Furthermore she was so poor, that by doing that, she not only relieved herself of the burden of poverty but also safe-guarded my well-being.
But I could not bear the thought of even a moment’s separation from my aunt. She had been like a mother to me, and would always be.
“Please, Babo,” I pleaded. “Try to feed me a little more. Let me grow big with you, and I will build you a house. I will repay you someday. Let me do something to help, but please, Babo, don’t send me away…” I really cried.
Babo placed a soothing hand on my shoulder. Just like the hand of Mother. I felt a bit comforted, but presently I cried some more. The effect of her hand was so stirring.
“Listen to me. Stop crying—oh, now, do stop. You see, we can’t go on like this,” Babo said. “My matweaving can’t clothe and feed both you and me. It’s really hard, son, it’s really hard. You have to go. But I will be seeing you every week. You can have everything you want in the Datu’s house.”
I tried to look at Babo through my tears. But soon, the thought of having everything I wanted took hold of my child’s mind. I ceased crying.
“Say you will go,” Babo coaxed me. I assented finally. I was only five then—very tractable.
Babo bathed me in the afternoon. I did not flinch and shiver, for the sea was comfortably warm and exhilarating. She cleaned my fingernails meticulously. Then she cupped a handful of sand,...