Growing a family

by Evans Yonson

I am at home right now. I am resting for awhile after a long walk from work. I can hear the children playing outside. Simon and Garfunkel are singing Mrs. Robinson on this hot summer day. I love the message of the songs of this singing duo. It is music to my ears.

“God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those pray. Hey, hey, hey.”

It’s almost 6 o’clock now. I can smell the neighbors’ cooking their dinner, it must beginisang baboy[1].  I feel very tired. But I still find enough time to write my diary. I remember I started writing my diary when I was 10 years old and I am still writing up to this day. I am entering into my fourth pregnancy month. This is my third child. The world is in chaos now. Last week in Great Britain, they passed a law allowing abortion. My husband and I are worried. What is happening in the world right now?

Terry, my husband, works part-time as a janitor in a government office near Xavier University. Early mornings, he goes to the military training camp. He will be home late today because he has to clean the whole office because it was Labor Day yesterday. I have been working with the government since I was 21 years old. Alejo (Manoy Bobong[2]) and Luis (Diko Lolot[3]), my children, are four and three years old respectively. Before coming home, I bought a cake. I am now cooking a special dinner tonight. It is a very special day to the four us, it is my birthday. I am 30 years old today. I have heard mass before buying my cake.

I was born on May 1938 in Cagayan de Oro City to tailor-parents. My memories of childhood are not very pleasant. I grew up with so much chaos. Since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we never stopped moving from one place to another. Nanay[4] had three kids when the war started. I remembered how Tatay[5] would dig a deep hole in the middle of nowhere and we camped underground for several days. We had kerosene lamps under the holes. We would come out during the day but when the sirens sounded we would jump into the hole and stay there for the rest of the day. I lost count how many rivers and mountains we crossed and climbed. It was during this time of crossing rivers and climbing mountains that I got sick with high fever. I contracted malaria along the way. My parents were so worried that I might die. But I survived after drinking those boiled water with wild herbs that Nanay concocted every meal. I am an obedient daughter and I helped in the shop until I graduated from the university.

I met Terry through a mutual friend. He finished secondary school but never went to the university because his father had remarried and rebelled against the union. His mother died before he turned two years old. He had eight sisters and a brother with his father’s second wife. He longed for his father’s attention and his stepmother was so busy taking care of her own children. After finishing high school, he came to Cagayan de Oro and became a famous basketball player in the city. We got married without my parents’ consent. But I was already 24 when I got married and earning my own money. Nanay was particularly worried about me because I married a man without a university diploma.

We now have enough savings that we decided to build our own house in my family’s lot. Our home has three rooms. Each room has a cabinet. The two boys have their own beds. I am worried having this third baby would mean a bigger room. Terry prefers that our house should be made of wood because it’s cheaper than having a concrete one. Wood, he believes, creates a warmer ambiance for our growing family. Our salon is very big with a long sofa so the children can run freely. I love decorating our home with white curtains. Our dining table, made of narra, is a wedding gift from his father. We use firewood for cooking in the kitchen. Gas is expensive these days and having a stove is even more expensive. Our windows are made of wood also. We use mosquito nets at night because I am afraid that my children my contract malaria. Our house faces east and so are our beds. We believe that the sun is the source of our energies so we have to face it every morning. We have a domestic helper to clean our house, wash our clothes and take care of the two boys.

I enjoy going to work everybody but with my pregnancy, I am having a hard time waking up early. The summer breeze makes it even more tiring. I always feel sleepy. I always wonder why I feel this way. This might be a girl now. My friends tell me that I should pray to Saint Jude to give me a baby girl this time. We are hoping, wishing and praying that it will be. My two boys seem to be eager to have a baby sister. The last time I was pregnant was three years ago, so I am having difficulties adjusting to the added feature and weight of my body. We want it to be a girl because we only want three children. Seeing my parents caring for five children makes me think of not having more children. I am totally different from my mom because I have to wake up early and go to the office.

(to be continued)
[1] Sauteed pork with green vegetables.

[2] Manoy is the Cebuano term of endearment for older brother. Cebuano is one of the major languages in the Philippines. Bobong is the nickname of Alejo.

[3] Diko means second brother in Chinese Fookien. Lolot is the nickname of Luis.

[4] Mother in Cebuano.

[5] Father in Cebuano.