I gazed at the canvas leaning against my bedroom wall. A still lit lantern standing on my bedside table. I was cozily tucked under my blanket sheets. Just sitting, unable to sleep.
I didn't hear the knock. I only realized that the door had opened when Emilio, beside me, came to a stop. "Can't sleep?" He asked. I nodded silently.
He looked at the canvas where I kept staring. "Are you thinking... of him?" I let out a breath as he shut the door. "Yes. It's raining..."
He looked towards the window closed. Indeed rain fell, clouds ashore. The stars were covered and couldn't be seen. "You can tell me..." I looked at him. I just suddenly became gloomy. I needed someone worth telling.
"The rain just suddenly poured. Then I remembered something." I tightened my grip on the sheets. "We onced kissed under the rain." The words had come out, bringing out past memories that were suddenly spitted out of my brain.
"I just wonder if he's alright. I can't bare to think of the fact that maybe..." Emilio sat beside me, and held my hand tightly. "He'll be alright, Isabella." My head fell on his shoulder.
"Miguel Acosta..." I muttered my old lover's name. "He was a well built man. I met him at the marketplace. He was wild and a bit troublesome." A smile crossed my face. "At that time, he stole a few tomatos from the old Mang Jose. I had absolutely no idea what he was supposed to do with them." I laughed softly.
Emilio was gazing at me, an expression on his face I couldn't quite read. But he broke it with a smile. "And?" So I continued my story.
"I was out to buy ingredients for dinner. But we ran into each other. So I dropped the basket---" "Did he pick them up for you?" He looked like a father who was about to shoo away his daughter's ill-mannered boyfriend. I laughed once again. "Don't worry. He did. He was even kind enough to replace the dropped spinach."
I let out a sigh. "Love is deceiving..." "Not always." He reassured me. "There will be another. Someone who'll love you more. Someone who'll never leave your side..." He stayed silent as he wrapped his arms around me for a soft, sudden embrace.
I stayed there, feeling safe. "One day..." I muttered. I looked toward the window. "Do you think they're still out there?"
I remembered my uncle who could still be alive. He was nowhere to be found the day after the first invasion crime. I waited for him. A day, three, then a week. But his things were alreay gone. He had left without me...
And of course, Guelio... "We never know." Emilio replied. "But if they are, there is still hope for them to change." I hope they will. And I also hope they'll get through this.
"What about Natalia?" I asked him. He never told me about the one he loved previously. I wanted to feed my curiosity.
"She was sweet..." He said finally. "A bubbly type. Someone who's not hard to get along with." "She too, had big dreams."
"Is that why she left you?" I blurted out. His head leaned against mine. "Yes. She left for America... with a rich businessman." The word rich came out bitter. "I tried to give her all I could offer. We almost got engaged..."
It was my turn to hold his hand. He stopped speaking. Then again, looked at me. "You look sleepy now." He had changed the topic. But it was true indeed.
My eyes wanted to fall shut. "I can still manage a few minutes---" My stubborn mouth let out a yawn. He smiled triumphantly. "I told you you were sleepy."
He forced my head on the comfy pillow. "No late midnights for tonight, estrella." I wanted to argue. But sweet dreams were calling to me.
I was about to shoo him off. Until I heard a beautiful, baritone voice weaving a song.
"Awit ko'y dinggin, bintana mo'y buksan Pati bituin tila naghihintay Kailan ba Mutya, aking matatanaw Ang pag-asang dulot ng iyong kagandahan?"
It was one of my favorite songs by Ruben Tagalog. He knew it too... My mind wandered. Emilio Salcedo. A poet who knew how to sing.
"I don't really know much lullabies. But this Harana can work like one."
"Ang tanging araw nang kita'y magkita Sa aking puso'y naging alaala Kaya dinggin mo ang awit ko sinta Dumungaw ka't lunasan yaring madlang dusa Bakit ba, mutya, kung di ka mamasid Laging may kaba ang puso kong sabik? Kaya dinggin mo ang aking pagawit Dumungaw ka't lunasan mo na ang madlang dusa..."
Before I knew it, the world of sleep was ready to consume me.
But not before hearing his words.
"Goodnight, mi estrella."
. . .
The song is titled "Awit Ko'y Dinggin" by the Father of Filipino Kundiman, Ruben Tagalog.
A not so good translation from me (because there is also much more beauty to this song):
Listen to my song, open your window. For even the stars seem to be waiting. Oh beloved, when will I see, The hope brought by your beauty?
The only day I met you; In my heart it is a memory. So listen to my love song. And wash away all suffering.
Why is it, my love. When you don't watch, my eager heart goes crazy? So please listen to my song, And wash away all suffering.