Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Coin Diver

happy weekend co bloggers :)
I want to share with you an article written by my former high school teacher Mr. Catalino Hisula. I got this from the page of 100% Katolikong Pinoy in Facebook
The story moved me so I decided to share it with you guys
enjoy reading

It was Sunday morning and the sun slipped from the horizon to float freely in the sky. Only one old, diesel smelling, slow, passenger boat that crosses to another city in Mindanao was moored on the pier. The other boat that shuttles between the city and another smaller nearby island had left earlier. Only the two cranes with its gantries raised to the sky working on the pier expansion made the pier busy.

Down beside the aft of the old boat was a Badjao couple in their canoe and their daughter less than three years in estimate but too little for her age, was inaudibly sobbing from hunger. Hunger is enough reason to cry but she was too weak for the effort to really cry. They were displaced by greed fishing into a civilization they can neither associate or assimilate -- except by this trade.

The wife grabbed the baby to coddle her in her arms resting its buttocks on her lap then put her left nipple on the baby's mouth to pacify her not really to feed her. The baby was naked and her genital wrinkling from inadequate nutrition was a tolerable sight because she was a baby. The romblon hat that the mother wore shadowed the baby's face from the glare of the morning sun as the youngster suckled the unhealthy, milkless breast.

Coins were thrown to the water for her husband to dive. Each time the coins were long in coming, she asked the passengers to throw some more using the Badjao language the passengers do not understand but nevertheless knew she is asking for money. She never raised her hands with an open palm the way beggars do. She extends her hand as though she is reaching another hand for a handshake like she doesn't consider this trade begging. Her husband provides a diving show to the boat passengers by allowing a few seconds before he follows the sinking coin underwater.

The family knew there was not enough time anymore for the day's business. The boat leaves in a few minutes and the next ship from a Malaysian city arrives at dusk and so coin diving is impossible.

The boat sounded its giant horn twice to signal departure and the funnel sent black smoke in the air to get ready. The couple knew what it meant so the wife added a little amount of loudness to her voice now.

"Sige na" she shouted in their language.

The mooring ropes were removed from the bollards and were dropped to the water and almost instantly the ship carried by the current drifted a few inches from the log fenders. The winches hummed as it rolled to gather the ropes into the giant spool. The engine rumbled and the water ruffled with the heavy movement. The couple followed the boat while the wife called for more coins. From crystal clear the water turned deep blue-green and the dune-like bottom sand and some debris and some garbages of the city began to get obscured. Some passengers remained leaning on the rails watching the couple waiting for some diving exhibition. One passenger who was lying on his cot unpleased by the entertainment stood up and approached the rails.

"Why these people don't find work," he said to himself as he walked to the rails.

He dipped his hand in his jeans pocket and the wife saw it. She directed her hand to where the man stood.

"Sige na! sige na!" she called. Her voice carries the tone of begging now.

When the man got his hand out from his pocket, his palm had three pieces of yellow coins. The husband's face had the willingness to give the man entertainment if entertainment was what the man was looking for 
in exchange for this last minute generosity. He grabbed his daughter from his wife and put her on his back and the baby dutifully clung to his father's neck as though she knew this is her exclusive role and an early practice in the trade. The passenger threw one of the coins and father and daughter instantly leaped into the water. They landed a few meters away from where the coin rippled. Some few seconds later, two gleaming heads bleached brown by iodine and sunshine were back on the surface. Father shook head thrice in quick succession to free his eyes from the stinging saltwater that drips on his forehead; daughter wiped face with one hand for the same purpose while her other hand remained clinging to her father's neck. They swam towards the canoe as the wife rowed towards them to meet them. His finger and thumb touched his mouth where the coin was clipped between his teeth and then extended his hand to the side of the hull to drop the coin there.

A few seconds after father and daughter climbed back to the canoe, the second coin was thrown. It was torture. Oxygen had just gathered back into their lungs. He put his hand on his forehead like a visor and lowered his face almost touching the water to locate the coin. The child on his back was a censored thing now. Her legs parted as her toes dug the side of her father's stomach to avoid somersaulting ahead into the water. The watching passengers were divided between laughter and pity. Once the sinking coin sent a whirling gleam to the eyes of the coin diver, they slipped into the water.

Up in the big boat the passengers were held in suspense, but not the wife. She knows her worry can't do any help; she knows the diving skills of their men even before greed fishing destroyed with dynamites their fishing grounds as they steal their fishes.

The coin whirled too far. It was sinking in a zigzag motion in obedience to buoyancy and defiance to gravity. Two times the coin slipped his palm. The bottom sand was just a few kicks below before he finally caught the coin in his palm.

Father and daughter resurfaced nearly half a minute later and far from where everybody's eyes expected them to emerge. Once more the wife rowed towards them to meet them.

Slowly, the old boat turned south to set her on course. Once the prow found its destination in the horizon, the tail boiled. The last of the three coins was still in the fist of the passenger. He threw it but a bit too close to the bubbles of the propeller. The husband handed the baby to his wife and for a few moments thought of diving for it. He changed his mind. Instead, he dangled his right foot on the water to help his wife counteract with the paddle the current created by the vessel. He wished he could do something but he could only give the man a blaming look. The coin means so much to them. His eyes uselessly locked on the man's face.

But the boat sped up now and the distance it gained had freed the passenger from the eyes of the coin diver.

No comments:

Post a Comment


(c) Copyright 2011 Sunshine's Comfort Zone | Layout Design by Chie Wilks