Life in the countryside. That’s what I yearn to have again. Simple. Straigthforward. Beautiful. Abundant. Most of the delightful memories of my childhood stayed intense and pulsating. More than three decades now but I could still smell our farm. I could still hear the rustling leaves while trees are dancing as the wind blows their natural serenades. The mooing cows and carabaos, and chickens dashing around the backyard. I could not ignore the birds chirping their happiness. And as the sun slowly fades from the heavens, the serenity of life becomes apparent on every living organism, except for diverse and eerie-sounding insects, that weave the nights with bits of unruffled creepiness.
I was a ‘farm boy’ at a very young age of five. I was like my Tatay’s (dad’s) buddy at the farm. I regularly went with him to a piece of land that we looked after, some kilometers away from our home. Everyday, around four in the morning, my Tatay never failed to wake me up, made me a hot drink ( usually a home made coffee with condensed milk plus a dish of locally made sweet square biscuit). And as he sand his machete, I would gather small rounded stones from the front yard, put them in my net bag, and set on the slingshot round my neck before we kicked off to the farm.
Side by side, we would walk silently into the biting cold of daybreak, me, occasionally singing along novelty songs ( you should not wonder why Max Surban and Yoyoy Villame were so popular to me) from the radio he held on one hand and holding me with the other. After less than an hour and with few other farmers we greeted along the way, the treasured farm would welcome us with wide embrace and warm gratitude. The chickens anxiously waited for their morning grains and as my dad gave them their food, I would go and get the goats from their pen and freed them at the nearby grassland, then the cows, and the ‘carabao’. Afterward, my dad and I were already on foot at the rice paddies. It’s a seasonal cycle at the farm, we grew and harvested golden grains twice a year, a hundred sacks, sometimes more when the harvest was generous. We used to harvest coconuts too.
It was an enjoyable sight during planting season, the farm was like a massive empty lake of mud and as people put the rice seedlings into the earth, it would slowly transform the land to a green territory of life and health, into an unbelievable map of rice field. You could get overwhelmed by the glorious-looking plots of food and abundance and in the next five months, my life at the farm journeyed blissfully with it.
|photo courtesy: dipity.com|
Life was wonderful in the countryside. Simple. Laid back. Uncomplicated. We grew our own vegetables, we have our own animals, we have our own fruit plants. Everything was available except electricity. I grew up with conventional oil burner to light the night. We used clay oven to cook our food. My brothers and I used to gather fire woods after school and collected dead coconut leaves to make torch. No electricity. No television, only battery operated transistor radio to hear our late night radio drama, and few radio quiz shows, and of course the old familiar songs on Saturdays and Sundays from our crank-vintage phonograph or turntable. My mum was a passionate Nora Aunor and Imelda Papin fanatic, so she had collections of their songs in long play vinyl disc. She played them once in awhile.
I started my grade school with no available electricity. The nearest town to get the recent connection from a local power station was a distant 20 kilometers which nowhere near at all. My siblings and I studied our lessons with an ‘oil lamp’ at the center while we silently read books and answered homework. No electricity, no television, only the presence of our own selves as we shared jokes at night before we went to sleep.
I surely love to experience that simplicity again. Where nature knows my emotion and everything around is a consoling piece of blessing. I surely love my children to experience with me the beautiful childhood in the farm. So they would know how the trees are breathing and to understand that there is larger life in the humble countryside.