Chapter 63: - Page 5 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The boy stumbled and fell several times, but rose again, each time without feeling pain.  All his soul was centered in his eyes, following the beloved figure.  They crossed the sweetly murmuring brook where sharp thorns of bamboo that had fallen on the sand at its margin pierced his bare feet, but he did not stop to pull them out.

To his great surprise he saw that his mother had plunged into the thick undergrowth and was going through the wooden gateway that opened into the tomb of the old Spaniard at the foot of the balete.  Basilio tried to follow her in, but found the gate fastened.  The madwoman defended the entrance with her emaciated arms and disheveled head, holding the gate shut with all her might.

Mother, it’s I, it’s I! I’m Basilio, your son! cried the boy as he let himself fall weakly.

But the madwoman did not yield.  Bracing herself with her feet on the ground, she offered an energetic resistance.  Basilio beat the gate with his fists, with his Mood-stained head, he wept, but in vain.  Painfully he arose and examined the wall, thinking to scale it, but found no way to do so.  He then walked around it and noticed that a branch of the fateful balete was crossed with one from another tree.  This he climbed and, his filial love working miracles, made his way from branch to branch to the balete, from which he saw his mother still holding the gate shut with her head.

The noise made by him among the branches attracted Sisa’s attention.  She turned and tried to run, but her son, letting himself fall from the tree, caught her in his arms and covered her with kisses, losing consciousness as he did so.

Sisa saw his blood-stained forehead and bent over him.  Her eyes seemed to start from their sockets as she peered into his face.  Those pale features stirred the sleeping cells of her brain, so that something like a spark of intelligence flashed up in her mind and she recognized her son.  With a terrible cry she fell upon the insensible body of the boy, embracing and kissing him.  Mother and son remained motionless.

When Basilio recovered consciousness he found his mother lifeless.  He called to her with the tenderest names, but she did not awake.  Noticing that she was not even breathing, he arose and went to the neighboring brook to get some water in a banana leaf, with which to rub the pallid face of his mother, but the madwoman made not the least movement and her eyes remained closed.

Basilio gazed at her in terror.  He placed his ear over her heart, but the thin, faded breast was cold, and her heart no longer beat.  He put his lips to hers, but felt no breathing.  The miserable boy threw his arms about the corpse and wept bitterly.

Learn this Filipino word:

mga walá