Panata

lourdes-crop

He can no longer remember as to when he started frequenting the church in Polo.

In his early 30s, he had made a panata to the image of the Our Lady of Lourdes at the grotto since it had been reported to have been seen dancing on its pedestal. He would wear the same attire: a white linen, short-sleeved polo tucked in a black baggy trousers. His leather shoes had been polished to perfection. His hair greased and combed up which draws attention to his pointed face and high cheek. But despite his devotion, he can’t seem to shake off the feeling of sadness (he had resorted into calling it that for the lack of better terms to stand for what he was feeling)

Years before this, his wife had been sexually assaulted and murdered in their home. The man had been in a state of stupor ever since. So when he had heard of the miracle, he had prayed vigorously to the image, hoping that it could bring the culprit to justice. And that his faith could bring him solace.

Then one night, he dreamt of his wife. She was on the floor with her back on the bloodstained walls of their master’s bedroom. Her wavy hair was disheveled. Her face had bruises as he clearly remembers when he saw her on the metal slab at the Valenzuela Police Morgue. Her undergarment was on her left ankle and her floral bestida raised to the waist. Her thick pubic hair was wet with blood and semen.

He knew that at the night of the murder, she was fixing him dinner. He knew that she was trying to make up for the fight they had that morning about why he refuses to go to her parents’ house whom had resented him since day one. She raised her head and looked towards the window. And there, he saw that the Virgin Mary standing, looking over at the darkening horizon. She turns to him and says, “There is nothing; only your definition endures my son.”

He woke up with his kamiseta heavy with sweat.

Before dawn broke, he was already by the grotto at Polo. In his usual attire, he knelt before the image of the Virgin Mary whose head was raised to the heavens, completely unaware of her worshipper’s presence. In the middle of his third Hail Mary, he suddenly felt a sharp pain on the right hemisphere of his brain. Falling to the ground, he started convulsing uncontrollably. The katiwala maintaining the plants on the church grounds rushed to him but froze even before he could get near him. The katiwala watched as he started floating from the ground.

From the firmament, the Virgin Mary, clothed with a robe that shone like the sun watched expressionless. She turned to Yahweh who was dressed in a brighter, white regalia that resembled a medieval battle armor. He was seated on a throne of gold and chrome situated on a glass floor that seemed to be burning with blue flame.

“Should we tell him now?” She asked Yahweh.

“No. Now we commence Phase 2.” Yahweh replied.