Nostalgic Accounts Episode 2
My childhood afternoons were almost dominated by running and running tirelessly on the shore sands. Playing under the scorching sun all day, we reeked like vinegared fish stew. Wait, how should I say that? We stank like paksiw fish. In order to tame us, an elderly next to our house named Lola Iglesia whistled her signature go-home-or-I’ll-whip-your-ass call to her grandchildren who were playing with me and the other neighborhood kids when twilight bit. Around 5 o’clock or before the darkness fell, we eagerly gathered on Lola Iglesia’s small resting shack on her yard where we wrested over the first-come-first-serve spaces on the long wooden chair. We then begged her to give us a frightening horror story. But she would never tell us a story unless we let her drink tuba (coconut wine). So the kids started to chip in whatever cents we had to buy her a glass of tuba. Because of this, you would never see any kid running loose outside their homes after her stories. For many years, Lola never ran out of tales. She must have been very imaginative and creative. As long as she was a little bit drunk, she could create any kind of story that fitted your expectations for extreme fear factor. My memory has retained a few of Lola’s stories and superstitions. I’m really fascinated of how frightening they used to be and how funny they are when I look back on them today.
1. Lola’s garden had only one commandment. It had not anything to do with a fruit, but with a flower. At the center of her garden grew this bell-shaped Brugmansia Flower, the only flower in the whole wide world to which you are forbidden to point your fingers on or they will be cut off or fall off your hands! Lola was never lenient to her grandchildren with this commandment. They were scolded seriously for breaking it. We, the outsiders, were also reprimanded for doing the same.
2. Once in a while, an unknown floating object was seen far asea our little neighborhood that we could hardly see it from the shore. Lola also forbade us of pointing to it or our fingers will be cut off. She said zombies were aboard the floating object and you aggress them when you point at them. They were said to attack neighborhoods and put on their slippers. The next time the residents wear their slippers, they get infected and turn into zombies, too. So when I was young, I used to hide all our slippers inside the house after dusk. It was far later when I found out that the floating object was actually a barge probably carrying container vans or transporting goods.
3. If darkness fell and we’re still in Lola’s shack, we would see a blinking light moving across the sky. When we asked Lola about it while pointing our fingers, she would scold us because, yeah, you guessed it right – it was prohibited to point on it, too – or else, you guessed it right again, your fingers will be cut off because the aliens riding in it would get offended. How come I was aware of aliens yet I didn’t know about the existence of commercial planes? There were a lot of prohibition on the use of fingers on Lola Iglesia’s time.
4. You should never ever take a bath after you ate mung beans or monggo or else they will bloom and grow bigger inside your stomach and you’ll get bloated and die. I remember I interrogated Lola one time when one of her grandchildren jumped into the sea with us after eating mung beans because he had escaped her sight. I wondered why he didn’t feel ill. Lola said the effect could take a few days. Hehe.
5. She had this story of a kikik. A kikik was probably a large half-human-half-bat monster, at least according to how I understood and believed the concept of it. But according to an official Cebuano dictionary, it’s a witch’s bird. Anyway, there was this kikik and she said it had been making noise on top of the big tree on their yard, hiding behind the leaves in the dark night sky. So, kikiks get afraid when you intimidate them, she said. Her son purportedly told the kikik to stop making noise or else he will catch it and cook for their meal. So we were amazed that he was able to silence the terrifying kikik.
Our house was like five meters from Lola’s shack but I never ever dared to cross the danger open zone towards home. So either Lola’s son would accompany me home or she had to call Papang to fetch me.
Ignorance is sometimes bliss, but it is a necessity indeed to seek for knowledge.