Kune comes of age
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Kune comes of age

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Kune comes of age Kune comes of age Document Transcript

  • ENG2Oclaret KUNE COMES OF AGE, Anon Barely had the sun’s rays peeped from behind the hills than he was chopping wood in the front yard. He was a dark, curly-haired, good-looking boy, no more than thirteen years old, but already as tall as the mango tree that grew beside their batalan. He had planted the seed almost two years ago, one dull afternoon when he had sneaked into their neighbor’s yard and helped himself to the ripening mangoes within his reach. But today, there was no hint of that naughty boy. The beads of perspiration starting to form on his bare back spoke of serious work, as did the rising pile of firewood nearby. He had already milked the carabao at the back of the house, and watered his Inang’s eggplants and tomato plants in the backyard. By six o’clock, at the tooting of the siren at the ice plant, he had finished the pile of wood by his side. His mother would have wood for one whole week! Kune raised his arm to wipe the perspiration from his brow. He felt good. The early morning work had invigorated him. He felt that he was ready for anything. Or anyone. He flexed his arms, and looked at his growing muscles with pride. “Kune, why are you up so early?” Kune whirled around, startled. “Tatang! I didn’t know you’re up. I could not sleep anymore. So, I got up.” He saw his father’s eyes widen at the neat pile of firewood stacked beside the mango tree. Tsk, he thought to himself, now he’d be asking many questions. But MangSiso merely stood by the window and stared at Kune in frank wonder. “Did you finish the assignment you were doing last night?” he asked instead, as Kune went to the batalan to wash his feet. “Well, Tatang, that’s another reason why I got up early. I would like to finish it.” Kune excused himself, grabbing the notebook he had left on the kitchen table. Then, thumbing through it, he walked toward the front window, well away from his father. He didn’t want his father asking him questions. How was he to explain, anyway? His father may not understand. Even AlingSianang immediately noticed the change in Kune. “Uy, you’re so well-groomed today,” she remarked as, after breakfast, Kune put on his newly-cleaned rubber shoes. He had on his neatly pressed maong, the only decent pants he had. To match it, he wore an immaculately white T-shirt. “Is there a convocation?” Kune scratched his head. Why did everybody have to ask questions! “Not today, Inang,” he explained. “It is Monday, and I would like to wear my best pants to start the week right. Inang, for the first time, I am enjoying my studies.” “That’s good, Cornelio. I am happy to know that you are paying more attention to your schoolwork now. Siso, did you hear that? Your son seems to be coming of age at last.” “Yes, Sianang. I really wonder at the big change in him. May his industry continue for a long time.” MangSiso patted Kune on the back. He turned to AlingSianang, “Our son is growing up, Sianang.” AlingSianang nodded her head and smiled. *** It was a beautiful Monday morning. There was no hint of rain in the sky, and a slight June breeze played with the bamboo clumps by the roadside. The moment Kune stepped out of their gate, he began to walk fast. Not a moment to lose! He felt the two one-peso coins in his pocket and smiled. Today was the day! In school, Kune outdid himself. Even Miss Pablo, his first period teacher, could not believe her ears. Kune was giving one accurate answer after another. “Cornelio, you keep up this good work and you’ll easily make it to the honor list.”
  • ENG2Oclaret Kune smiled self-consciously at Miss Pablo’s praise. His classmates were all looking at him. He felt the blood rush up to his face. He felt uncomfortable at all the attention he was getting. But within him, he was singing. His plan was working out well. He gave Adela a furtive glance. She was sitting three chairs away, a slightly built girl whose soft hair hung loose up to her shoulders. Kune tried to see from the corner of his eye if she was looking at him. She was! And smiling too! Kune could feel his heart beating trip hammer blows. She must like me, the thought went over and over in is head. During recess, Kune looked for Adela. He felt warm all over, but his steps were light and springy. He must talk to her now. He was a man now, wasn’t he? Hadn’t his mother just said that he was coming of age? But why do I feel so unsure of myself? He kept asking himself. He just couldn’t get his words in the right shape when Adela was near. Again and again, he would practice his little piece, but each time, he got so tongue- tied that all he could do was stare and smile. He saw Adela sitting alone under the shade of a bent mango tree. Now was the chance to speak with her. Kune took a deep breath, and readied his piece. He would ask her to have halo-halo with him. “Hi, Adela.” “It’s certainly very hot today, isn’t it?” Adela’s eyes rounded and she giggled. She looked up at Cornelio, waiting for him to go on. But Kune felt rooted to the spot, all his well-rehearsed words gone. “By the way, congratulations.” Adela broke the silence between them. “For what?” Kune finally got his voice back. “For your good work in Social Studies!” Adela smiled. How pretty she is, Kune thought helplessly. What does she think of me now! Adela went on “Imagine, three accurate answers in a row! Everybody in class admires you, even…Miss Pablo.” Suddenly, Kune came back to life. He took advantage of Adela’s hesitation. “I thought you were going to say, even I,” he quipped. He wasn’t going to lose a chance like that, even if he couldn’t get his invitation in the right shape. “Who, me? Well, I…Oh, never mind, forget it,” Adela evasively answered, blushing. To change the subject, she remarked, “It’s really hot, isn’t it?” This time Kune didn’t waste any more time. “How about a halo-halo then? It will refresh us. Besides, the store is just across the street. Come. Dela.” *** Dela didn’t say a word. “Come, join me, please,” Kune pleaded. Dela stood up. She gathered her books with one hand and smoothened her skirt with the other. Kune was almost behind himself with joy. I did it, he silently exulted, taking in one deep, satisfied breath. Then, before he could say anything more Adela was gone. Kune was stupefied. He stared at the girl’s receding figure, not knowing what to do. He wanted to run after her, but he could not move. “Dela!” He called Adela back, but she just kept on running. I don’t get it, Kune muttered to himself, I just don’t get it. That night, Kune spent long hours writing his first love letter. He was indeed, slowly coming of age.