“Tammel,” cries my grandma, calling me.
“Tammel” with the ‘l’ pronounced nearly as ‘r’ with the tongue twisted and curled up, that’s how she calls me, instead of ‘Samuel’ as others say my name. Her problem of pronouncing the ‘s’ sound is due to her native language that lacks ‘s’ – and so ‘s’ is replaced with ‘t’.
“Nape?” I usually query when she calls for me (or anyone) whenever I reach her seat. “Na-pe” means why.
“Munha`ang a mo ten nunalgo. Ayagam nadan iibbam ta mangan ayu,” which when translated, it means ‘Cook some food because it’s high noon. Call your siblings and eat already.’
“There are foods in the kaldero and it’s still early for lunch,” I usually would respond, which whenever I say in my father’s native language, makes me twirl my tongue and sounds trying hard.
“Oh,” she usually says nodding her head and will ask a question which would usually end up in a begging the question conversation.
That’s always the case with my grandma because she always forgets, her mind is not as keen as before – she is old now. You would always see her sitting on her wheelchair watching T.V. or be contended looking at my father working. She would also motion the images in the movie to come near close her as though they are physically-present. Sometimes, she just lies in her bed sleeping. Then at some time, you would hear her call my father’s name and when my father would ask why, she would just smile and ask anything or would say nothing.
If she won’t see my father for a long hour, she would call for him. And if you say that father went to feed the pigs, she would keep quite. Minutes later, she would ask the same and if you will say the same answer as you had before, she would say in an angry tone, “Why don’t you just butcher the pig so we have viand?”
There was even an incident when she kept mentioning the name of her mother, Bugan, and my dad said, “Your mother is long dead. Do you see “them” around?” (In effect, he was asking if her mother’s mother is calling for her already). And my grandma answered, “No!” T’was a moment later and my auntie came asking for something. When my grandma saw her, there was a bloom on her face and a smile was painted on her lips and said, “Here you are mother. They said you are dead.” We smiled and laughed for with my auntie, she found the touch of her mother once again. It was later in the afternoon when my auntie came again and they asked if she was her mother and she said, “No. That’s my daughter.”
I remember when she was younger, and was still able to walk, she did not act the same way she does today. She would wake up in the morning and go to her kaingin and clean it. There is nothing to clean, though, because her kaingin was weeds-free, but maybe, that’s what the earlier generations do. Her kaingin was planted with pineapples and sweet potato. She would give us some pineapples when they are ripe, and some sweet potato when they are cooked and ready to eat.
When she got a little older, she did not need to go to her kaingin because she was forbidden by her children. They said she was old and needed rest, and so she stayed in my auntie’s house. Doing nothing surely brought her boredom and thus she insisted on helping feeding my auntie’s pigs. That was her daily routine then, feeding the pigs and always worrying about the pigs when they started to oink oink. When she was doing nothing, I would see her sitting in front of the house pounding her betel nut and soon enjoying chewing it.
I was in highschool when I always go to my auntie’s house to watch T.V. Often times, when I go there, my grandma was in the sala chanting her long prayers. Long prayers I say because her prayers lasted 30 minutes to 1 hour. I would sit three steps away from her and would listen to her prayers. I could hear my name, my siblings, cousins, uncle and aunties’ names in her prayer. If I could not wait for her to finish her prayers, I would then slowly slip away and out the house. But sometimes, when I was itching to watch a cartoon movie, I would open the T.V. and would let her know I was there and wanting to watch. She would talk to me in a moment asking how was everything and would go to her room later and continue her prayers. I know I was rude.
In her entire life, or as long as I can remember, she showed us how she cared for us and even until today. There never was a time that she did not share what she had especially food. If she had 7 apples, she would take two and would give us the other five. Even when she would get scolded by my father or my auntie for giving us her food, she did not care. She would nod her head whenever they tell her to stop giving us the food because it was her who needed to eat them for their nutrients and not us because we can have some, some other time. The next time she had food, she would still share it with us.
She would always ask if we had rice to cook and viand to pair it with. If we did not have rice to cook, she would take some from my auntie’s and give to us. There were times that when I went to my auntie’s house and would see her eating meal with no viand but only with water poured on the rice with just sugar mixed with it. If she would notice me, she would bring out the viand she hid and would offer it to me. “Come on in, eat,” she would say. She won’t think of her own but rather put us first on her mind. It would be okay for her even if she had no tasty food to eat as long as we can have some.
In her current state now, I know she can not remember all those things she did for me or for us. She wont remember that she gave me the money her children gave her when I graduated highschool saying, “Here is a money for you. Don’t they give money when a person graduates from schooling?” She wont remember how I savoured her foods while she got contented with the non-palatable taste of her food; she wont remember those times when she gave way for my rudeness to have pleasure watching T.V. while she was distracted with its sound while in meditation; she wont remember many other things but I should remember.
This granny of mine who can no longer offer us with anything is a great, loving and caring grand mother who will do anything for her children and her grandchildren. I understand this because I felt it and saw it. She has loved us dearly and has showed it to us up to the point of even sacrificing himself. She is one of the kind… She really is phenomenal!
P.S my grandma cannot recognize me anymore. i always need to introduce myself to refresh her mind.
And in your demise, we will remember how great you were to us.
Life is a mist, a vapor and a moment
Staying with us for a small time and now is adjournment,
Sharing us thy love and goodness
Thy countenance brought happiness.
As ye muster thy last breath
and dost slumber in peace
In thine God’s bosom, thou shalt sit
And what ye wrought and sheweth
in that wilt thou shalt be remembered.