He was bored. “We have to find something to do” he said. “It’s beautiful out here, the sea it’s amazing and it’s really relaxing… but damn, after a week it’s getting boring”.
“I know” she replied. “But what can we do? We came here specifically to relax. We’ll have adventures later”. He couldn’t stand it. “Ok, I’m going to have a walk, maybe it’ll help. Later”
The village was really small – even if he’d spent most of the time in their cabin, on the beach or swimming; he’d seen enough of it to understand that there couldn’t be more than 2000 inhabitants. But today something was different. The little shop where there was karaoke in the evenings was closed. So was the little restaurant belonging to Hans, a german guy who had moved there at least five years before. All the people he usually saw around were gone, only some of the women, children and dogs remained.
There was a basketball court about 500 meters from the cabin – always packed out with young boys engaged with a seemingly never-ending match. He understood that basketball in the Philippines was almost a religion. That day the court was empty too.
Darkness had begun to descend on the village, the plants and almost everywhere around him were filling with black; the shadows were becoming real and dense, everything was changing.
Then he heard the scream. Something almost human, but too primordial at the same time.
It was at that point that he saw a light in the distance. Like a moth, he headed to the light, and the screams.
Clear human noises were now perceptible. Almost all the village men were gathered in a big space.
Curious, he wanted to ask what was happening. “Grunf”
He turned his face to the source of the sound.
It was a pig. A pig tied to a tree. Laid on the ground, her eyes staring straight ahead.
She has really sad eyes, he thought. “Hey bro!” Yelled one of the men he knew during a “karaoke/drinking” night few days earlier. “Hi Bob, what’s going on here?”
“There is a wedding tomorrow…We are the catering.” The pig grunted.
The people were cheerful. There was music in the air and they were already thinking about the next day. The day of the wedding. They already knew how much fun they were going to have, what with the dancing, the drinking and the food. The food. There needed to be enough to feed the whole village, plus the indigenous people from the mountains.
The butchery had started few hours before, and some pigs had already been “treated”. Limbs were hanging around all over the place, dripping their last tears of blood. He just couldn’t stop thinking of them as tears. There was an inner brutality and sadism in what was happening around him. Death is natural. Killing for food is natural. But keeping someone tied up while you’re killing her friends, siblings and lovers in front of him is just insane. Even if they are all animals. But that’s not something a lot of people think about.
“Damn!” He said, one foot sliding into the centre of a puddle.
“Hey bro, pay attention” Bob said. “It’s already slippery out here, and with all the blood it’s even worse.”
He looked at his foot and realised it was red. Only then did he see the small river leading from the tables to where he was stood.
Everywhere was dark. The surgical tables lit up by bulbs, one for each one of them. The screams were over. Even if there were any animals left alive they were completely silent, staring at nothing, as they accepted their faith.
Or maybe, he thought, maybe it’s just like when you’re a kid and your mother takes you to the dentist: you are scared, you don’t want to go, and maybe you cry – but she gets angry and forces you anyway. You get there and the place is full of other kids, some of whom are crying and you hear the sound of the drill, and the screams. All you want is to just run away: you feel the anxiety in your stomach and in your lungs, which are getting more and more breathless. But you know there’s no chance fo you to escape until your mother lets you. And at that point you stop crying. You just wait.
Thinking of that analogy just makes him feel more anxious: he hated going to the dentist. And thinking that those animals were waiting for their death was too bleak.
The speaker was playing Buffalo Soldier, and Bob – which was probably a fake name he had given himself in tribute to Bob Marley – was singing out loud and moving as he was on a stage. Everyone around him was cheering him on.
In that moment, the choice of song felt pretty ironic.
It was time to head back to the cabin. He left Bob to his singing and the others to their work. He wasn’t disgusted or angry at them, he was just feeling sad at that point.
“Hey bro!” shouted Bob. “Are you going?”
“Yes, it’s time,” he replied.
“Have a great evening and a good rest, we want to see you both at the wedding tomorrow.”
“Are you sure? We don’t even know the bride and groom.”
“Don’t worry, they are my family and you are my friends, it’s not a problem at all.”
“Ok then, thanks. See you tomorrow.”
He left with a smile. Despite everything, he was happy they’d been invited.
Children were playing,running and screaming everywhere.
The church was very little, and people were already gathering everywhere. “it is so different and at the same time so similar to our weddings” he thought.
There were essentially two kind of persons. The elegant ones, probably the family and closest friends, all dressed with a blue shirt for the men and a blue dress for the women, except for the family that was in ivory instead of blue. The casual ones, the rest of the village, dressed as usual, t-shirt, shorts and flip flops.
The groom wore a black suit with a white shirt and he was visibly shaken. Even with the best men trying to make him laugh he was still look anxious.
The people suddenly got excited.
When the bride arrived she was preceded by a multitude of bridesmaids, all in blue dresses opening the way for her to arrive, followed by a boy with a school backpack on his shoulder that kept the train of the long white dress from getting dirt in the mind. She had to make her way on a slippery and wet ascent, helped by her father, an old man whit white hair and an austere look on his face.
The groom inside the church was completely paralyzed, as she was getting near to him he looked more and more afraid. Untill she touched his arm. His face changed, his lineaments relaxed and a smile appeared on his face. Behind his big a thick glasses his eyes showed joy.
The ceremony was officiated in latin and tagalog. It’s been short and probably nice, a lot of times people laugh to what the priest said, probably jokes. Probably he knew them since a long time, as he probably knew everyone in the village since a long time. Despite the crowd in and outside the church, everything felt intimate.
At the end of the ceremony everyone went to the basketball court, a big tent was built up for the luncheon but only for the couple, their family, bridesmaids and the best men. The rest of the village were all around the place, eating food and drinking, just waiting for the dances.
“Hey Bob, where were you?” He ask as soon as he saw Bob.
“Hi bro, I was here to cook. Come, have some Filipino Gin, with the pork is the best” and he gave him a glass full of gin and a plate with pork cooked in three different way,
Mindful of the previous evening, of the screaming pigs, the blood river and the dogs eating the waste of the corpse, he almost declined but he knew that it would have been a bid insult to them.
He took the plate and the glass, drunk most of the gin and started eating the juicy and flavored meat.
“Thank you Bob, this is great”
His head was full of screams.