Culture

To Carve a Story

Nothing looks terribly different (apart from the overcast days and days and days) or maybe it does? The harvested rice and sugar cane fields, stripped and being ploughed by water buffalo and tiny men in shredded clothes?

There is a time of year here after the rains come and the wind gets cooler. Times when you (if you owned a jumper) you would wear it. Instead you sit in the morning cool with socks on your feet and 2 towels dabbled around your shoulder.

In the morning the water from the tanks runs cold over your fingers and you fill the bucket to about 3/4, leaving some room for the hot water (you will boil in the kettle usually reserved for the tea water). Then take a bath.

Nothing looks terribly different (apart from the overcast days and days and days) or maybe it does? The harvested rice and sugar cane fields, stripped and being ploughed by water buffalo and tiny men in shredded clothes? I wonder how they feel about cold? Out there in day 3 of the pouring rain, behind a harnessed carabao in heavy mud? The whole day too, and not just the 5 or 6 seconds I see while the bus goes past.

When he arrives home does he strip off all that wet, sodden, torn clothing and bathe from a well? Or under a bamboo fashioned drain pipe? Does his wife or daughter boil some water in a rice pot which he mixes in a bucket and allows it to fall over his wet, wrinkled skin? Or does he just get on with it? Warming himself rather with a bottle dark spirits washed down with some loud music and the chatter of neighbours.

What do they talk about? Those little clusters of men that sit at the end of roads in bamboo shed-type things. While everyone is scattered and inside? Well I think they are, I don’t quite know because I’m inside too. So I’m not really seeing it.

But I do see men on the sides of roads in pouring rain fixing motor cycles, or shovelling dirt, or driving tricycles behind plastic bags, or going to sea, or getting on buses. Still wearing their thongs, or maybe a pair of jeans instead of shorts.

This colder month and wind pours through my windows. So does smoke followed by mosquitos or maybe it’s the other way around. Where do they come from? Mosquitos? And how do they know to flee into my windows? They come, these cooler months are mossie months. The dengue comes too and fills the local hospital. Fires are lit, big smokey fires. Piling green leaves and refuse stuff onto flames to make thick smokey curtains and send the mossies away coughing and spluttering.

And sometimes you can go the whole day in a long sleeved shirt, and I’ve seen jackets in the big malls. Tights and boots too! Boots are the most ridiculous thing here. (Well actually they aren’t because there is so much mud they really are an excellent concept.)

In fact I had a pair here (boots that is) when I first came. And my feet almost fell off the end of my legs they were so hot. Mercifully someone stole them when I went to the toilet at a bus terminal. I cursed and lamented a few days later when I eventually discovered their loss. And it was months before I could actually see the blessing in losing the resonsibility of owning an expensive, heavy, cold-weather pair of boots that I had taken off because they were so bloody hot and I couldn’t stand them on my feet a second longer.

Sometimes it takes a while. To cool down that is.

© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine


  • Daily Post: Carve
  • I’m part of Post A Day 2018
  • Location: Estancia, Iloilo (Philipppines)

men work in the rain (1)

2 comments

    1. Thanks Kerstin. I’m doing the daily challenge here on WordPress and was happy with yesterday’s piece of writing. I’m really impressed with your mini-course and so happy for you seeing a few new faces everyday in your Facebook group.

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