Chapter 63: - Page 4 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

A boy limped by, running toward the plaza, whence came the notes of Sisa’s song.  It was Basilio, who had found his home deserted and in ruins.  After many inquiries he had only learned that his mother was insane and wandering about the town—of Crispin not a word.

Basilio choked back his tears, stifled any expression of his sorrow, and without resting had started in search of his mother.  On reaching the town he was just asking about her when her song struck his ears.  The unhappy boy overcame the trembling in his limbs and ran to throw himself into his mother’s arms.

The madwoman left the plaza and stopped in front of the house of the new alferez.  Now, as formerly, there was a sentinel before the door, and a woman’s head appeared at the window, only it was not the Medusa’s but that of a comely young woman: alferez and unfortunate are not synonymous terms.

Sisa began to sing before the house with her gaze fixed on the moon, which soared majestically in the blue heavens among golden clouds.  Basilio saw her, but did not dare to approach’ her.  Walking back and forth, but taking care not to get near the barracks, he waited for the time when she would leave that place.

The young woman who was at the window listening attentively to the madwoman’s song ordered the sentinel to bring her inside, but when Sisa saw the soldier approach her and heard his voice she was filled with terror and took to flight at a speed of which only a demented person is capable.  Basilio, fearing to lose her, ran after her, forgetful of the pains in his feet.

Look how that boy’s chasing the madwoman! indignantly exclaimed a woman in the street.  Seeing that he continued to pursue her, she picked up a stone and threw it at him, saying, Take that! It’s a pity that the dog is tied up!

Basilio felt a blow on his head, but paid no attention to it as he continued running.  Dogs barked, geese cackled, several windows opened to let out curious faces but quickly closed again from fear of another night of terror.

Soon they were outside of the town.  Sisa began to moderate her flight, but still a great distance separated her from her pursuer.

Mother! he called to her when he caught sight of her.  Scarcely had the madwoman heard his voice when she again took to flight.

Mother, it’s I! cried the boy in desperation, but the madwoman did not heed him, so he followed panting.  They had now passed the cultivated fields and were near the wood; Basilio saw his mother enter it and he also went in.  The bushes and shrubs, the thorny vines and projecting roots of trees, hindered the movements of both.  The son followed his mother’s shadowy form as it was revealed from time to time by the moonlight that penetrated through the foliage and into the open spaces.  They were in the mysterious wood of the Ibarra family.

Learn this Filipino word:

pinagbuklód ang mga pusò