Friday, June 3, 2011

San Biag Ko: Old Men and the Question

©2010 Johnny Domawa 
All Rights Reserved

“Sino nan asawam?” The old man smiled at me. Despite my best efforts, I had once again been singled out. I guess there was no escaping it.

I smiled, trying to deflect his question. I knew where it was leading and I sincerely hoped that he would lose interest. For a moment, I was tempted to lie but I could not, not to an elder.

“Maiwed pay.” I laughed. He looked at me in surprise and his eyes scanned my face for any sign of a lie.

“Ay anina pay na? Kaat nan tew-en mot kad?” I knew this line of questions and I dreaded the sequence but there was no escape.
“Unga pay laeng.” I deflected his question.
He paused again and looked me over.
“Ngan di unga assas, ilam pod nan buok mo et sana ay maamin. Naamama da et maid asawana..” I caressed my receding hairline and smiled at him, sheepishly.
By this time, the others who were not under the influence of sleep had drawn closer, drawn in by the conversations. The old men in particular, smelling fresh blood shook off their slumber. It was their time to dispel old wisdom to the young and I was caught right smack in the middle
“Kaat nan tew-en tona?” he asked around. One of my cousins, threw me a knowing wink, grateful that he would not be the one grilled. It was my turn. “Men tolonpoo.” He answered.
The old men turned at me, their eyes morbidly surprised.
“Ay naamama ka et obpay ya.” One of them croaked.
“Wen, ay ilam san inapon din amamas de yet deeyet ay naapoan dampay egay na malpas pay lang nan oskila na.”
I leaned back, hoping that the attention would veer to that direction but the first old man noticed and grinned. “Ilampod…” He took my hand, informing me that I could not wiggle out of it anytime soon. “Inabak din inudim sik-a.”
“Ay kin-anak sisa?” another old man squinted at me.
“San apon Bokak-ew.”
“Aa, ay sitosa din apon din Bokak-ew.”
“Inayan pay, dampay ilamet maid samet nakiasawa assan ananak Nokak-ew ay lalalaki.”
“Wen ya.” I saw one of my uncles in question slowly slink away, knowing that if he did not, he would be the subject of the conversations of old men. I was not so lucky.
“Ay yaket enka maid asawa?” one of the old men asked.
I groped for answers, hoping for some excuse.
“Maid ipakanko.” I realized my mistake the moment I uttered it. The old men looked at me incredulously.
“Ay sinunan talabakom?”
I kept silent but grinned at all of them, hoping no one would know.
“Ay mistolo naya” the first old man gripping my hand answered. “Menisulsulo ad sissa Es El Yu.”
The old men gasped.
“Ay ilam pod, ngan di makakwaniamay maid ipakanmu, et ilam nan dey kasinsin mos di yet, kalpintero ya tollo nan anak na et.” The young father grinned.
“Awan datonas nakaadal, ay ngandi turong di inadal yo pay.”
“Way tuan di isulsulo das datona adwani, ilam san apoket naay geddan ay mainina da pay ta maid kanu ipakana.”
“Kreesis ad wani gamin.” I joked. Again all eyes turned to me.
“Ngan de kreesis? Ilam nan wadad ili et, mapakana nan anak nay a. Kumadangyan ka dadlo.”
“Maiden kadangyan adwani, Linmigat nan biag.” I countered but I knew even then that it was a weak retort.
“Dulaamin sas kankanan. Sino nan wada nan egay nakiasawa ay apo nassa ta iyasawa tako asna”
I cringed, realizing that my worst fear was about to happen. They were about to play matchmaker. I prayed for an excuse. But I continued to grin sheepishly. The old men looked at each other but no one ventured anything. I thanked my lucky stars. The last things I wanted was for some over zealous old man to volunteer his grandchild and do it ‘sundo’ style. At least, we were Applai and still respect the individual’s wishes.
“Ay no wada manet di kayat na ta siya nan entako kakali.” I stifled a sigh of relief.
“Maiwed garud mangkayat..” I joked. The young men around laughed but the old man holding my hand would not bow out easily.
“Ngan di adi mangkayat as, wan talabakom, ay suwelti pay ketdi a nan asawaem.”
I grinned at him. “Ay maid met mangtuktok…”
He looked at me incredulously.
“Ay babai ayay mangtuktok si lalaki! Ay sino pay obpay nan insulsolon alapom ken sik-a?”
“Waay, siya nan ikakan di ipogaw adwani tay ilam po det adu adu ay apo nan maam-ama da pay adi da makiasawa.” Another old man piped in.
“Wen, waay siya. Ay into od iman di bababai? Nu adi da umey sinan teken ay ili dan dapay maanakan sin tekken. Sumaa da, nainina.”
“Tekken nan turong na.”
The old man released his grip on my hands but he gave me a look that I had not escaped yet.

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