The sun was about to set in the mountain village of Capillahan. A skinny lad wearily walked home, tired from a hard days work, dragging baskets of coal from the bowels of the coal mine to a waiting hauling truck.
“Steaming vegetable soap followed by a wholesome bath of rain water collected in earthen jars will be good”, he promised himself.
It did not happen.
A flock of mother hens trailed by their merry chicks met him on the yard leading to his hut cackling for their favorite corn grits. “Be patient little ones, you’ll have it in a minute”, he forced a smile and rushed to the hut to scoop a bowl of grits from an open sack. He sprinkled the grits to the delight of the small chicks.
Shortly, colorful arrogant roosters raced in to feed on the scattered granules, competing with chicks. They were timely. They regularly arrive at sunset to feed after their daily wanderings to scratch for worms at the edges of the nearby forest.
“You big guys…leave some to the little ones,” he shouted, raised his hands in frustration and went back to the hut to scoop more grits to satiate the flocks.
The sun had completely hidden itself at the back of the big mountain when monsoon winds suddenly pushed dark rain clouds overhead. Rain-fearing goats, previously leisurely grazing on the lush grassy plain, came bleating loudly near their shed. The lad understood their pleas and obliged. He opened the shed for them to shelter in.
He smiled, satisfied. He had done a full days work. And ready to indulge with the steaming vegetable soup that the old woman, his beloved aunt, normally prepare for him.
It was getting dark and he was about to enter the hut when he heard porcine cries. Hot bodies and hard snouts started rubbing and thumping his legs. They have returned. He last saw them in the morning walking away with abandon for their daily search for edible root crops.
“God, the pigs have not been fed yet”, he exclaimed and proceeded to prepare and fill their feeding trough with the corn bran.
Dusk and the lad thought he had finally finished his menial tasks for the day. The chicks were already silent, safely tucked underneath the protective wings of their respective mother hens. The arrogant roosters were perched on branches of the trees surrounding the hut. The goats were silent. And the pigs seemed to be snoring contentedly in their corner of the shed they share with the goats.
“Tasks are done, now dinner, never mind the steaming vegetable soap. Will bathe, later”, he thought and walked slowly to the hut. His aunt was sweating in front of a hot earthen stove when he entered. With a small bamboo tube, she was busily blowing air into wet firewood to keep the stove fires burning.
She glanced to him and casually mentioned that “the carabao is still relishing in the pond” and that it will be picked up in the morning by a farmer friend for plowing an adjacent corn field.
“Jesus, there’s no way finishing these tasks,” he complained to himself and plodded to a foot trail leading to the muddy pond, the buffalo’s favorite hangout.
The meek beast reluctantly stood up and followed him after repeatedly hearing its name being called and the gentle tugging of the leading rope latched to its nostrils.
It was late when the lad sleepily ate his cold supper. A quick bath…and he slumped onto a rough buri mat with a soft cotton pillow. His drowsy eyes gazed through the open bamboo window watching the twinkling stars.
Sounds of a soulful ballad sang by farmers celebrating the coming of the life-giving monsoon rains filled his ears and put him restfully asleep.