Chapter 63: - Page 6 of 7

Christmas Eve

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The moon gleamed majestically in the sky, the wandering breezes sighed, and down in the grass the crickets chirped.  The night of light and joy for so many children, who in the warm bosom of the family celebrate this feast of sweetest memories—the feast which commemorates the first look of love that Heaven sent to earth—this night when in all Christian families they eat, drink, dance, sing, laugh, play, caress, and kiss one another—this night, which in cold countries holds such magic for childhood with its traditional pine-tree covered with lights, dolls, candies, and tinsel, whereon gaze the round, staring eyes in which innocence alone is reflected—this night brought to Basilio only orphanhood. Who knows but that perhaps in the home whence came the taciturn Padre Salvi children also played, perhaps they sang

La Nochebuena se viene,

La Nochebuena se va. [1]

For a long time the boy wept and moaned.  When at last he raised his head he saw a man standing over him, gazing at the scene in silence.

Are you her son? asked the unknown in a low voice.

The boy nodded.

What do you expect to do?

Bury her!

In the cemetery?

I haven’t any money and, besides, the curate wouldn’t allow it.

Then?

If you would help me—

I’m very weak, answered the unknown as he sank slowly to the ground, supporting himself with both hands.  I’m wounded. For two days I haven’t eaten or slept. Has no one come here tonight?

[1] A Christmas carol: Christmas night is coming, Christmas night is going.TR.

Learn this Filipino word:

mapangmatá