The Encore




Editor’s Note: This piece is one of the works in a four-part series in line with the Dapitan 2022 theme Hintayan. All works are written by the Flame‘s Letters staffers.


Remedios Street sang the chorus of playing children in a humid afternoon.

There was a rhythm of Langit Lupa. Children’s clothes were damped in sweat and their feet soiled by the ground. The little souls played heaven and earth.

As twilight fell, their mothers came one by one. They nagged about the soiled clothes and held towels to wipe the sweat off from the children’s brows. 

Amid the motherly objections was a child who was left behind. Andres watched the children with their mothers with an ache of yearning in his chest.

There was a silent encore in the street of Remedios, performed by a longing child who always walked home alone.

By the time Andres reached his house, his father and uncles were already sitting around a table with liquor. 

His father looked at him indifferently and pointed at the pulutan upon the table. “Hapunan mo!” he told Andres.

His stomach growled. Andres quickly stabbed a piece of grilled pork belly with a fork. His drunken relatives continued to converse. They did not mind his presence. 

When he had his fill, he climbed the stairs and went to his room. The intoxicated voices faded as he closed the door to change his clothes. Afterwards, he climbed the wooden windowsill and heaved a sigh.

Andres gazed upon Remedios. He was thankful how her songs filled the silence his mother left—the silence his male relatives refused to break. 

He never knew his mother beyond a whispered name and a “Batang Ina” remark. Andres remembered the pain from his father’s coarse palms and fists whenever he asked more.

At a loss, Andres stared at Remedios from his window, waiting for a motherly touch to walk across the street and fill the emptiness he had harbored.

A quiet encore remained. F

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