Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Grandmother


My grandmother was born and grew up in Fookien, China. She was the youngest of many siblings. She had her royal and her poor. She claims that one of her uncle was a Chinese noble in the court of the Manchu Emperor. She also earned her keep by sewing cloth shoes. She was bethrothed and married to one of the Cua-Qua clan. Her own family name was Ke. She was born in 1884 and died in 1979, at the age of 95.
She adopted and cared for my father who also was a child of the Cua-Qua clan. My father was
one of two they adopted. My uncle was older than my dad. My dad came with his parents to the Philippines in 1926 when he was 7 years old.
I am one of 9 children of my dad and mom.

My grandma loved with my uncle sometimes
and with us sometimes. She was the cashier of our bazaar branch. She was a widow when I was born. She loved her husband.

There were somethings she would not do. One of them was to sleep with her hair wet. Her husband said she will go crazy. The other is to have someone peep at her.

My grandmother also cared for my Aunt Fely until she was 13 years old.

She was born a Buddhist and prayed her beads and ate her food made of tofu, rice, noodles, gluten, and peanuts cooked o;n her own pots and pans with her own utensils. She wanted to be a Buddhist nun but my family would not part with her. A Chinese priest succeeded in converting her to Catholicism/

She reared cats and shows us how the cat would hide the kittens so they would not be found. She would have my brother follow the cat around to where the kittens are.

She reared pigeons and grew sampaguita and there was always champaca, everlasting and sampaguita for ancestor worship and food for the gods.

The ritual was interesting. There is prayers and they threw down two wooden tiles that were convex on one side and see how they landed. If they are the same face down, the ancestor was coming. If they are different then we had to wait.

We walk on tiptoes around the altar for the gods less they spent their ires on us.

We used to listen to my grandmother wax her homespun poetry.

One of them goes like this:

In the heavens (thi) there was lightning(tang), it fell and hit a man(lang) on the ground; the man(lang) was running(chow), hits the dog(kow); the dog(kow) was barking(poi), hits the pair(toi), the pair(toiP was banging on each other(ching), hits the lantern(ting); the lantern(ting) was a-blazing(khi), hits the chair(e); the chair(e) was sitting(tse), hits the blanket(pe), the blanket(pe) was bundling(ka), hits the duck(ah), the duck(ah) was being killed(tai), hits the navel of the old grandfather(lao pe kong-a e puchay).

The other goes like this (this s my mom’s):

There was a farmer whose carabao went into a shop and upset the wares on the stante or racks and was hauled into the court by the shopkeeper for reparation money.

In front of the judge, the farmer said: Senor Huiz, halimbawa(what if) di si kaliambao(carabao), gua si gu twa tao(carabao tender), ocho meses kinse diaz(August 15) pista know know know(feast of the saints), tuk tuk musico(music blaring), carabao takut(scared), pasok tindahan(enters the shop), gu twa tao says hoa-hoa, carabao upset all the stands.

The judge fined the carabao tender 10 pesos. Why?

Give up? Because the carabao tender said, halimbawa(what if) you are the carabao to the judge.

My grandma talked about streets that are there but have no wayfarers, house that are built but have no tenants, farms that have no farmers. She said that day will come when we will all be gone, so we have to be good. She was one of my soothsayers.

In front of me my grandmother gave my father back to his clan and my neighbor is the Qua uncle.

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