Rice by Manuel Arguilla
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An afternoon on a hut with a tamarind tree beside it, Pablo, an old farmer, came from the farm and unhitched his carabao upon its empty sled and began to feed it with a zacate. Then, he called her wife, Sebia, from their hut but no one answers him. He goes to the neighborhood to ask if they’ve seen Sebia and his children but Osiang, their neighbor, seems not hearing what Mang Pablo is asking and give a question back regarding his husband Andres. Later sometime Osing told Mang Pablo that his wife and three children went to the creek for some snails.
Mang Pablo reminisce the scenario later that morning when he with the several other tenants driven with their sleds to the house of the senora to borrow some grains. But as they go changes come, their usual tersiohan system on borrowing became takipan meaning the amount that they borrow becomes double at harvest time. His co-tenants refuse for this is too much and can’t even know if they can pay it exactly at the time given. In the end everyone leave with an empty sled and will come home without any rice to eat.
Then, Osiang’s voice broke the silence. Asking if he had already cook their rice and offered him pieces of coal. When he is about to go back home Andres came and give a sign telling he must wait for him. Andres – dark, broad and squat man, wearing a printed camisa de chino appeared asking Mang Pablo if he is coming with them. Mang Pablo advice him not to continue this because they will commit stealing but Andres together with other men is desperate.
As he turned, he had seen wife and three children and was accompanied with a man. The man told him that they are fishing in the fields but Sebia disagreed and told him that they are just gathering some snails. Then, the watchman told Mang Pablo that they must pay five cavanes. Sebia is asking for the rice but Mang Pablo told him that there is no rice while looking in his hungry children seeing weakness and pain then he asks for his bolo joining Andres and together they walked to the house of Eli.