Judith D. Galleros

© Copyright 2018 by Judith D. Galleros

Photo of Bruno.


You've got a friend in me...

He joyfully sings those lines from the Michael Jackson song while busy brushing his tattered denim. Between lines he pauses and occasionally makes sighs though not long but a number of times. Somewhat, there are questions he wants to ask but can’t figure them out verbally. “Try to check the stains on your shirt , put some bleaching powder, I make directions repeatedly to him, he just nods. I continue, “We’ll go to the beach tomorrow, how about it?,” he nods again. There are blank moments on his stares while gazing up the bright blue skies afar. I notice it twice a time as I observe him staring at his cousins building sand castles on the dark grey sand in the crowded shore of a community beach nearby. “Come on Bruno, feel the water now.” my children are inviting him. There’s a sudden joy on his face that move him up from being sunk into a hump of dark sands. He excitingly join the noisy kids in their fun play catching up each other over the tricky small waves in the vast yet a portion of the infinite creation of the archipelago.

How I wish he could be one of my own! I consider him as the twin brother of my son who demands special needs and attention who is borne hours ahead of him. He even longs they could celebrate together. I am just keeping it in my heart for when his father dies he entrusts him to my elder brother. He confides,” On the day his father dies, Bruno runs to me and soberly utters,”Uncle I’ll stay with you, I beg you not to give me to others.” It brings me to tears upon hearing such innocent pleas. Right after his father goes home from an enduring period of confinement in the hospital, he takes care of him. ”How about your schooling?” He simply replies, “I’ll go back as soon as papa will get well.”

Good that his adviser meets accidentally his father on a drinking spree and become friends over time, offers a brotherly consideration to his bedridden father on a visit and that he lets him attend the graduation rites. His father cries hard and tries to lift his hand in a sign language thanking his teacher knowing that he could not go with him on that very day_ that emblem of success amongst the many that he dreams far beyond into the vagueness of his destination.

On a fine Friday afternoon, he stops playing outside their scanty home for it’s time for his father’s meal but he could not wake him up no matter how he begs until he wails, ”Not now papa! you still wait to see my elder sister’s diploma tomorrow and mine a week soon, please God, not now!” grabbing his father’s phone he calls hastily his uncle who adopts them from the start his father retires from work, and not just sentimentally but dying to ask for his help. He blankly stares the coffin, and as I sit behind the other door, I can hear him humming a melody, only him and his guitarist father could harmonize at the top of their voices.

For a week or two, I ask my brother to have him in the house for a summer stay. One night, I ask him, ”What if your mother would come and get you?” Before he answers, he gives me a serene look, then a deep sigh, then he says, ”I don’t know her, she’s not in my mind, the more she’s not in my heart.” A gap of silence is felt between us, no word at all, the only sound is the weeping verbatim of the actress on the television in front of us. “How old are you when your mother betrays your father?,” I manage to ask after a heart throbbing moment of interpersonal interrogations. ”Barely 4 years old,” his short reply. This time I need to look at him on the eye, I see a pair of sincere yet determined sights of innocence. His lip trembles slightly as I tap his shoulders in assurance, “Stay strong, I know you can make the most of your life.”

There’s a distinct joy on his face as his eyes wander on an extensive landscape of freshly green sceneries of grains side by side the under construction, asphalted road of our hometown. Our eyes meet and I smile and say, ”Home at last!” “How are you feeling? I am getting the assurance of his gastrointestinal stability for he vomits once on a five-hour travel by bus. Showers of rain faintly wet us as we arrive in my brother’s house. My eighty-five year old mother, his grandmother hugs her tightly upon saying, ”I miss you so dearly grandson.” Looking on are his uncles, aunts, and nieces who in chorus appreciate his pleasing aura; on a new cadet haircut, new polo shirt, and a finer skin tone. I open up,” He consults a derma on his skin allergies.”

Here are your things Bruno,” As he receives the green striped satchel which contains the school supplies, I incline my head near to his ears and whisper, ”Do good in school.” “I’ll keep an eye on you.” He hugs me and whispers back, ”I will, thanks.”

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