Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tala



Note: Growing up in the city has deprived me a window to the sky. With lights from street lamps, billboard signs and buildings constantly overwhelming the heavens, it's hard to spot even a single star at night. 

They say, in remote towns and mountain hideaways, an explosion of lights still illuminates the great beyond. Once, I was treated to this spectacle while our car cruises an unlit highway. We were on our way to Isabela. 

The light show only happened once, and such sight, I still long ten years later.

This story, intended for elementary school pupils gave Bentusi, my editor, goosebumps. I guess it must have awakened a consciousness she had long suppressed. 

In remembering my first year as a children's magazine writer, I share this entry. Although slightly revised for older readers, it hopes to remind everyone that one can still find joy at the sight of stars.

Cheers!


A huge Balete stands next to a six-lane highway. At the base of the tree is a mound where old people say a duwende makes his home. 

The mound and the tree were already there before the highway was built. The Balete watches over a valley, where factory complexes and acre-wide warehouses have now sprung.

One night, the duwende found himself sitting on top of his mound. He was looking at the sky, trying to find a star even with a lamp post overhead.

“The lights are too bright!” The duwende growled. “Where are the twinkling stars?”

“The bear, the archer and the eagle have all disappeared too.” He was talking about a bunch of bright stars known as constellations. These stars, when connected with an invisible line take the shape of animals. Some were even named after humans.
  
“I used to spot Venus there.” The duwende was pointing at an empty corner of the sky. “And Mars there, and even the faint blue dot which is Jupiter.” He pressed his hands above his eyebrows to shield himself away from the glaring light.

Alas! he couldn't find what he’s looking. The sky glow from all the lights in the valley kept the poor dwarf from seeing even the nearby planets. 

“Now they are all gone.”






The duwende remembers a time when the hillside was full of trees. Everything was swallowed by the darkness. On some nights, the full moon looks down from above. Its silvery glow hides the heavenly bodies. And since its time for the diwatas and encantos to collect their moon dew, the forest hums to the sound of enchanting songs. Nowadays, only the roar of truck engines can be heard late a night.

“I should have left when the diwatas decided to go.” A tear rolled down the dwarf’s cheeks. “I should have listened when they said, ‘soon the stars will be no more.’”

Turning around to the Balete, the duwende spoke his wish to see the stars again.  

“Just this once, please.” the dwarf whispered.

And as if it was magic, all the lights in the city went off. The hillside was dark again as it once was. Even the valley below, not a single light bulb flickered.

The duwende couldn’t believe his eyes. He was seeing constellations instead of blinking airplane lights. The red planet was pinned in the heavens. And even Venus, the second brightest object in the sky appeared just below a grinning moon.





The duwende was laughing and crying at the same time! His gleeful voice echoed across the valley. The blackout lasted only a few minutes but for the dwarf, it doesn’t matter. His wish came true and he could now return inside his mound.   

Like the heavenly bodies, the still chuckling dwarf disappeared when the bright lights once again flooded the sky.

Meanwhile, in a faraway valley, where not a single human has ever set foot, one can still hear fairy songs at night. Without an artificial light to fend off the darkness, a billion stars light up the sky.


Credits:

Duwende
Stars



9 comments:

bien said...

oh no, ang lungkot.

ever visited the UP Observatory near CHE?

or nakigulo dun sa UP Astrosoc?

Pepe said...

this is a very good piece Mugen.

I love stargazing too, a habit I developed since I was a kid in the province. Yes, in distant and humble barrios, the moon and the stars are still the source of hope and lights at night, too far from the blinding and deceiving lights of the metro.

claudiopoi said...

mugen:

punta ka ng dumaguete. we live in the outskirts of the city, and there are nights when i just stare at the stars.

maganda ang view kasi sa amin, and if i get really lucky, sometimes, i see falling stars. may isang gabi nga na five times ko yata nakita.

anyway, ang heart-warming lang ng kwentong ito. :)

Yuan said...

back when I was still studying, I always look forward to our yearly retreat. it's not only because my faith gets strengthened, my ties with Him is made robust, but also because I get the chance to see mother nature's way of a 'light show.'

Blakrabit said...

Nice one master. Heart warming pero may political undertones. hehe

Mugen said...

Blakrabit:

Haha hindi ko nakita yung political undertones na yun ah. :) Happy New Year idol

Yuan:

Where did you see this light show? baka puwedeng abangan next time. Heheh.

Claudiopoi:

Thanks man. Preferred ko sana, somewhere in Luzon lang. Hindi pa ako ready maghimpapawid. Hehe.

Mugen said...

Pepe:

When I feel down, I still look up in the sky. Kahit walang stars. Knowing that infinity lies ahead, is already a source of hope for me. :)

Suwerte mo kaibigan.

Bien:

Hindi pa ako napupunta dun. I doubt if they could still see stars from the observatory. :/

Kiks said...

i never liked stargazing. and i have not figured out why. maybe because in the infinity of it all, we are but people with de-finite, imperfect lives. because if we were, life would have no meaning after all.

o sige na, magstargazing mamayang 12MN. happy new year, Mugen!

i heart thee, my surrogate son.

Mugen said...

Kiks:

And I heart thee Mama. Sana magaling ka na.

:)