Pihak Suba


Pihak Suba. Ballpoint pen on Moleskine ruled notebook

The sun had barely risen and already the people of Pihak Suba from the adults to the children, were up. Pihak Suba in Ilonggo means "The Other Side of the River". I always considered this place very mysterious. Mother forbade us to go there and the only time I disobeyed her was the time one of the twins drowned. Even then, we did not cross the bridge. The accident happened downriver near the delta where the muck from the city drainage emptied. The night the city burned, my parents gathered my sisters and brothers, all eight of us. They instructed us to wait by the river banks, and only to cross the bridge when the fire was visible. We never did, in fact we never left the house because the fire stopped two blocks from our house.
Pihak Suba was a village of fishermen. The men had dark skin and gaunt faces. When my Mother needed help in the house, she sent word to my aunt who sent word to a couple of women who lived in Pihak Suba. Our laundrywoman, Mary lived in Pihak Suba. She looked mean and when Mother was not looking and my older sisters were not around, Mary pinched us. I don’t know why she thought she could pinch me and my younger sister but since Mother left us in her watch sometimes, I thought we had to obey her. My younger sister and I would hide up in the "attic" which was actually an overhead closet where she stored the linens and extra clothes. Mary always brought along her little daughter whose skin was white as bond paper. Sooner rather than later we told our Mother about Mary pinching us and Mother was not pleased at all. We saw her talking to Mary who looked defiant and was telling lies. When she left, my younger sister and I ran up to the verandah and when Mary walked away, we stuck out our tongues at her and made horn gestures with our fingers.

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