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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Cultural · #2015580
A true story of how my dying grandma communicated with me in absentia.
1250 words

         Does anybody believe in premonition? In being visited by a spirit? Let me tell you a true story about the night my grandma Perpetua came for a visit to bid me farewell.

         Nanay Tuwang (as we called her) was my paternal grandmother. She lived with us intermittently because she moved from one of her sons to another when she became disgusted with a family member, especially us unruly children. Being in her late eighties, she would forget, and then she’d be back again.

         One of those grandchildren she did not care for in particular, I admit, was me. I was a big tease and she abhorred it. The subject of the teasing was Dondon, a cousin my age, whom Grandma had nurtured and raised since birth. She doted on Dondon as if he was the only grandchild among many others and showed her preference to him, which made the rest of us jealous. I did not tease her directly. I made fun of Dondon within her hearing and that annoyed her every time.

         “Hey, Einstein, you got such a big head. How many pounds of brain do you have in there?” I teased him constantly when we we’re doing our homework or showing off our grades. He would promptly run to Grandma with crocodile tears, looking for sympathy.

         “Cut it out, I took care of him since the day he was born. He was a preemie and I nourished him until he could be on his own. He was only as big as a bottle of Coke. Leave him alone!” Grandma would yell, flailing her arms demonstrating how small a twelve-ounce bottle of Coke was.

         For the record, let me explain. Grandma raised Dondon on her own because his mother, my Aunt Rudy, did not take care of him. She was out spreading her feminine wiles, jumping from one man to another, as revenge when Dondon’s father left her for another woman during her pregnancy. When she found a man willing to build his life with her, they lived as husband and wife and had three children to raise. At this point, Grandma did not want to give up Dondon anymore. He was Grandma’s focus of attention and source of delight.  Sadly, Aunt Rudy had a miscarriage on her fourth pregnancy. At the hospital, while recuperating, she fell off the bed. What happened was, she woke up from her nap hearing screams and saw everybody panicking pointing outside the window. She tried to get up to see what was going on. She panicked as well when she saw the building across the street in flames.  She hemorrhaged from the impact of the fall. Inasmuch as blood transfusion was unheard of in those days, she was released without receiving proper treatment. She died within three days after coming home. Shortly thereafter, Papa brought Grandma and Dondon home.

.          “Come on, Grandma, looks like he’s overfed,” would be my nasty come back.

         The following day, she was packed, luggage and all, ready to move out, with Dondon tagging along.  It was a familiar scene that kept repeating every six months or so.

         “Uh –oh, I did it again,” I’d say to my mom.

         “I love you Elena. You’re the only daughter-in-law I love. I would prefer to live with you but I don’t like your daughter. She’s mouthy. She’s obnoxious. I cannot stand her... “ This was what my mother quoted Grandma as saying to her.

         As I got into my late teens, I started thinking about what Grandma said about me and I realized my shortcomings. Something deep within me told me to apologize to her and treat her with respect. However, I never had the chance because I left for college.

         The guilt-trip followed me everywhere I went. So much so that I resolved to honor and respect all my elders, both maternal and paternal, including Grandpa Gonzalo and Grandma Marciana, with whom I was currently boarding as I attended my first year in college in the city. They were more than pleased to have me around to do mundane things around the house and run errands for them. For one thing, Grandpa was having difficulty walking with his broken leg and I was handy when he needed help getting up from his rocking chair.

         One night, around eight o’clock, after supper, Grandpa Gonzalo sat in his rocking chair by the main door in the living room, as usual. It was his lounging time before going to bed every night. Grandma Marciana was reading her prayer book while I was almost finished cleaning up the kitchen and ready to do my homework.

         “Honey, go down and close the gate. Make sure you lock it,” Grandpa said to me.

         I readily and quietly went down and did what Grandpa asked me to do. It was dark. The door light burned out. It hasn’t been replaced yet, which irritated me a little. I stumbled down the stairs a couple of times as I hurriedly took the steps then limped unto the paved sidewalk.  No big deal.  I always prided myself as one brave girl and proved it often enough. However, it was a play pretend. Of course.

         Early in the morning, very early, like 5:30, my father came knocking on the gate. He came for a very important reason. Grandma Tuwang, who had come back to stay with them again because I was gone, did not get up one morning as she should have every day. When she did not get up for three days, Papa and Mama were alarmed. She seemed to be sound asleep and nothing would wake her up. They realized she was in a coma and she was close to her deathbed. Papa wanted to let me know in order for me to pay my last respects.

         His message put shivers up and down my spine because it explained what occurred when I went to bed that night.  I heard a familiar voice call me. It sounded like my grandma Tuwang.  I half-opened my eyes, looked around, thinking Grandma Marciana wanted me to do something before she went to bed. I didn’t see anybody in my bedroom. So, I ignored it and closed my eyes.  A few minutes later, I heard the voice call me again. I wanted to scream and say, “What do you want? Leave me alone,” but I froze. Knowing that there was nobody there, I covered my head in my blanket tightly the third time I heard the voice whisper, “Mir, Mir...”

         At the breakfast table, Grandpa Gonzalo said that Nanay Tuwang came that night. He explained that the reason why he asked me to go down and close the gate was because he heard a knock on the door.

          “Come in,” he said.

          Nobody was there. The second time he heard the knock, he said,

          “Come in, the door is open.”

         Still, nobody walked in. The third time it happened, he pushed open the door and he felt something like a light-flowing skirt touch his leg, seeming to float inside the living room …. That’s when he called me to go down and close the gate.

         Had Grandpa Gonzalo told me why, I would not have gone. However, he knew it would scare me so he did not say anything.

         I went home with Papa that day. I was able to ask Grandma for forgiveness and give her a kiss goodbye.

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