Wednesday, August 11, 2010
my father goes to court
My Father Goes to Court
By Carlos Bulosan
November 13, 1943
When I was four, I lived with my mother and brothers and sisters in a small town on the island of Luzon. Father’s farm had been destroyed in 1918 by one of our sudden Philippine floods, so for several years afterward we all lived in the town, though he preffered living in the country. We had a next-door neighbor, a very rich man, whose sons and daughters seldom came out of the house. While we boys and girls played and sand in the sun, his children stayed inside and kept the windows closed. His house was so tall that his children could look in the windows of our house and watch us as we played, or slept, or ate, when there was any food in the house to eat.
Now, this rich man’s servants were always frying and cooking something good, and the aroma of the food was wafted down to us from the windows of the big house. We hung about and took all the wonderful smell of the food into our beings. Sometimes, in the morning, our whole family stood outside the windows of the rich man’s house and listened to the musical sizzling of thick strips of bacon or ham. I can remember one afternoon when our neighbor’s servants roasted three chickens. The chickens were young and tender and the fat that dripped into the burning coals gave off an enchanting odor. We watched the servants turn the beautiful birds and inhaled the heavenly spirit that drifted out to us.
Some days the rich man appeared at a window and glowered down at us. He looked at us one by one, as though he were condemning us. We were all healthy because we went out in the sun every day and bathed in the cool water of the river that flowed from the mountains into the sea. Sometimes we wrestled with one another in the house before we went out to play.
We were always in the best of spirits and our laughter was contagious. Other neighbors
who passed by our house often stopped in our yard and joined us in our laughter.
Laughter was our only wealth. Father was a laughing man. He would go in to the living room and stand in front of the tall mirror, stretching his mouth into grotesque shapes with his fingers and making faces at himself, and then he would rush into the kitchen, roaring with laughter.
There was plenty to make us laugh. There was, for instance, the day one of my brothers came home and brought a small bundle under his arm, pretending that he brought something to eat, maybe a leg of lamb or something as extravagant as that to make our mouths water. He rushed to mother and through the bundle into her lap. We all stood around, watching mother undo the complicated strings. Suddenly a black cat leaped out of the bundle and ran wildly around the house. Mother chased my brother and beat him with her little fists, while the rest of us bent double, choking with laughter.