Chapter 63: - Page 2 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

That doesn’t matter, sir.  My mother and my little brother must be very sad.  Every year we spend this holiday together.  Last year the three of us had a whole fish to eat.  My mother will have been mourning and looking for me.

You won’t get to the town alive, boy! Tonight we’re going to have chicken and wild boar’s meat.  My sons will ask for you when they come from the field.

You have many sons while my mother has only us two.  Perhaps she already believes that I’m dead! Tonight I want to give her a pleasant surprise, a Christmas gift, a son.

The old man felt the tears springing up into his eyes, so, placing his hands on the boy’s head, he said with emotion: You’re like an old man! Go, look for your mother, give her the Christmas gift—from God, as you say.  If I had known the name of your town I would have gone there when you were sick.  Go, my son, and may God and the Lord Jesus go with you. Lucia, my granddaughter, will go with you to the nearest town.

What! You’re going away? the little boy asked him.  Down there are soldiers and many robbers. Don’t you want to see my firecrackers? Boom, boom, boom!

Don’t you want to play hide-and-seek? asked the little girl.  Have you ever played it? Surely there’s nothing any more fun than to be chased and hide yourself?

Basilio smiled, but with tears in his eyes, and caught up his staff.  I’ll come back soon, he answered.  I’ll bring my little brother, you’ll see him and play with him.  He’s just about as big as you are.

Does he walk lame, too? asked the little girl.  Then we’ll make him ‘it’ when we play hide-and-seek.

Don’t forget us, the old man said to him.  Take this dried meat as a present to your mother.

The children accompanied him to the bamboo bridge swung over the noisy course of the stream.  Lucia made him support himself on her arm, and thus they disappeared from the children’s sight, Basilio walking along nimbly in spite of his bandaged leg.

The north wind whistled by, making the inhabitants of San Diego shiver with cold.   was Christmas Eve and yet the town was wrapped in gloom.  Not a paper lantern hung from the windows nor did a single sound in the houses indicate the rejoicing of other years.

In the house of Capitan Basilio, he and Don Filipo—for the misfortunes of the latter had made them friendly—were standing by a window-grating and talking, while at another were Sinang, her cousin Victoria, and the beautiful Iday, looking toward the street.

Learn this Filipino word:

maitím ang butó