Chapter 22: - Page 2 of 3

Lights and Shadows

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Why?

Because he seems to be watching me.  His deep, gloomy eyes trouble me, and when he fixes them on me I’m afraid.  When he talks to me, his voice—oh, he speaks of such odd, such strange, such incomprehensible things! He asked me once if I have ever dreamed of letters from my mother.  I really believe that he is half-crazy.  My friend Sinang and my foster-sister, Andeng, say that he is somewhat touched, because he neither eats nor bathes and lives in darkness.  See to it that he does not come!

We can’t do otherwise than invite him, answered Ibarra thoughtfully.  The customs of the country require it.   He is in your house and, besides, he has conducted himself nobly toward me.  When the alcalde consulted him about the business of which I’ve told you, he had only praises for me and didn’t try to put the least obstacle in the way.  But I see that you’re serious about it, so cease worrying, for he won’t go in the same boat with us.

Light footsteps were heard. It was the curate, who approached with a forced smile on his lips.  The wind is chilly, he said, and when one catches cold one generally doesn’t get rid of it until the hot weather.  Aren’t you afraid of catching cold? His voice trembled and his eyes were turned toward the distant horizon, away from the young people.

No, we rather find the night pleasant and the breeze delicious, answered Ibarra.  During these months we have our autumn and our spring. Some leaves fall, but the flowers are always in bloom.

Fray Salvi sighed.

I think the union of these two seasons beautiful, with no cold winter intervening, continued Ibarra.  In February the buds on the trees will burst open and in March we’ll have the ripe fruit.  When the hot month’s come we shall go elsewhere.

Fray Salvi smiled and began to talk of commonplace things, of the weather, of the town, and of the fiesta.  Maria Clara slipped away on some pretext.

Since we are talking of fiestas, allow me to invite you to the one that we are going to celebrate tomorrow.  It is to be a picnic in the woods, which we and our friends are going to hold together.

Where will it be held?

The young women wish to hold it by the brook in the neighboring wood, near to the old balete, so we shall rise early to avoid the sun.

The priest thought a moment and then answered: The invitation is very tempting and I accept it to prove to you that I hold no rancor against you.  But I shall have to go late, after I’ve attended to my duties.  Happy are you who are free, entirely free.

A few moments later Ibarra left in order to look after the arrangements for the picnic on the next day.  The night was dark and in the street some one approached and saluted him respectfully.

Learn this Filipino word:

harì ng gandá