4th of a five-part series
I did not plan to be at the funeral. I knew about her murder. I heard it over the radio. The day Siche Gandinao was to be buried, I was on my way to pay my overdue water bill when I chanced upon some student activists and human rights defenders at the Vicente de Lara Park fronting the provincial capitol of Misamis Oriental. I was persuaded to join them in witnessing Gandinao’s burial in the town of Salay, about two hours away by jeepney.
The news report I filed when I returned from Salay never saw print. There was a glut of stories of this kind then. When I reached home, water had stopped flowing through the tap and the next day I was more concerned in payingthe water fees and the fine for late payments.
Forward to July 2014. I was well into my ninth month of recovery from a second acute psychotic episode. I had settled into a new home at the outskirts of the city, in what used to be a cow shed and spent most of the hours rummaging through what was left of my things. It was a daily ritual of gathering memories, too, seeking what I could recover from the forgetting that comes as a side-effect of the cocktail of anti-psychotics and anti-anxiety drugs that I was taking then. I was jubilant when I found several of my photo files from some USB flash drives.
Reviewing the Gandinao burial files, I noticed that most of my attention was centered around that girl who wore red. Most of the relatives wore red but somehow I had tracked the girl till the cemetery.
I wanted to write her story. Of getting back to her in Salay. Is she still there? She probably is around 15 years old now. On her last year in high school. If she was able to go to school. How did she cope with the grief and horror of her grandma's death? Why did she wear the red dress? But was I up to working again? Do I have the stamina to get back to work and look for her in Salay? Do I have the resources? I couldn’t yet.
And so, faced with the challenge of a mind still recuperating, through the photos I journeyed in my imagination. I curiously re-imagined this girl who wore red on her grandmother’s funeral.
The previous three parts of this series are the products of that re-imagining. It is supposed to be just a single post, with a photo gallery. But when I had tried to post everything in the past three days, I had often been stymied by technical difficulties. I often get timed out and when I managed to get back to the WP website, I had to upload the text and photos all over again. I got around the technical glitches by dividing the uploads piecemeal.
Postcript-- yeah, there was a sheep, yes, a sheep! At the cemetery. But I have not figured out how to include it in the story.