We never had our own home.The place where I was born and grew up belonged to my aunt, built from her soldier husband’s pension, killed in action during the Second World War. Since my dad acted like a father to her two kids, she had left her house to his care, a token of love and trust when she decided to build a life with her kids in Manila. No signing of papers. No attorney fees required. Just a simple act of kindness so that my dad can have a place to start his own life.
With the people that had lived before and to those who had gone, either to greener pastures or to the other life, the house symbolized more than an edifice. It reminded them of their childhood, of the things they used to do and now only remembered, of the simplicity and the tranquility of life, free of demands and stress. A place where one wanted to come back over and over again.
Through the years passersby will admire our house for its uniqueness and space, its wooden floors always inviting one to lie down and retire after a tired day, the sliding windows wide and safe enough to sit on its sills while enjoying a shared story. The dining table, long enough to hold a mini feast while the adjoined window faced what used to be a bamboo fence and a star apple tree that had to be chopped down so that a basketball court can be built.
(One of the very few photos left of our old home)
Space. Comfort. Inviting. These best describe the home I used to live.
It was a nook that was enveloped with sadness when my father spent his last days and where his remains would lie before he gets buried, not to the nearby chapel, telling my mom that he had a home to return to. An abode where we heard the sound of his first grandson’s wails a few months after he was laid to rest. And a place that was filled with laughter, squeals, yells and songs when all us had our own families and get together during the Holiday Seasons, the loudest coming from my seven kids.
I thought it would never end.
Our home was built in a place whose inner circle had venoms, jaded people who go way back. Rooted from several generations in the past, incurable even with countless prayers, church visits and novena intentions. I always thought that miracles do happen, even to the most hopeless situations.
I was wrong.
Small talk started even before I was born. Legally it was not rightfully ours. But of what use is the law when one can manipulate it for ulterior motives. When one’s self worth is defined by endless back stabbing, spinning tales enough to believe in and when generosity all too often is masked by getting something in return.
A week after the house had been newly painted and refurnished, we were told we had no reason to stay. My dad had long been gone but that was the less painful part though hearing it directly, literally from the horse’s mouth would confirm it. Sadly, this time it did not come from a horse, but from my dad’s blood relative. We had no choice but to leave.
Our neighbors who had become my parents friends’ were saddened about what they have learned and witnessed. Since our house was located in front of the chapel, nobody had missed that day when we had moved. They still cannot believe that a nipa hut which had been the only home our family ever had would be the cause of envy and hurt. My mom kept her emotions intact long enough, until we arrived at our new apartment. It was only then she let the tears and herself go, still finding it hard to accept that we were driven out from our own home.
A few months after we had moved, we were told our house had been torn down. Less than a year from then, three lives were lost and one of them was my brother. It was like watching a tear jerker movie only this time it happened for real. It was hard to believe that what the house used to represent was now turned into a tragedy, hurting not just one family , touching not just one’s soul to its very core.
Our lives may never be the same. An old friend once told me loosing ones’ home is like letting go of one’s roots, the pain goes much deeper. And as I try to shield my children from it all, fate chose to do it differently. Though it would be impossible to find the same comfort that our old home had given us, I know that I will not leave this life homeless. And in time my children and I will again find our lives secured, happy and content in a place we can really call our own.