2003-01-19 12:56:47 (UTC)

knew him forever

FATHER showed Enrique the tricks of his trade the next day.
He showed him how to bathe the carabao, how to plow the
field, and many other things. My family loved Enrique.
Mother and Father treated him like a son.

I had decided not to go to the market that day. Maybe
because I knew Paolo was coming to see us. But ... maybe
also because I wanted to see Enrique.

After the incident the night before, when he laughed at
what I said, I felt myself warm up to him. Maybe because it
felt like he wasn't laughing at me...but he was laughing
with me.

I did not sleep so well that night. I knew Enrique was just
a wall away. My heart was jumping, singing a song for the
stranger whom I just met but felt like I knew him forever.

How can it be that I love him? How can it be that I am
willing to give up everything I know, everything I own,
just to be with him?

Thoughts raced through my mind while I lay motionless on my
cot, staring at the ceiling.

I knew I loved him. But why, I did not know. I knew nothing
about him. I only knew that his name was Enrique.

Mother had gone to the market and Father had set out to
work the fields without the help of the newcomer.

Enrique, being the city boy, was sitting outside our house,
under the shade. Sweating. Panting. Fanning himself.

"You city people are so weak," I said upon deciding to
start a conversation. I sat beside him. "What have you been
doing? Bathing the carabao?"

He grinned sheepishly. "I'm not used to this kind of work,"
he admitted. He raised his hands to the sun, so smooth and
fair against the light. I instantly felt ashamed of my
hands, rough and dark from the years of hard work.

"In school we are expected to work with our minds, not our
hands," he said. "You can never imagine how tiring that can

"Not as tiring as working with the hands I'm sure," I
replied with a tinge of uncertainty. He did not seem to
take offense. "Where do you live?"

"Somewhere in the city," he said with a smile. "Where the
bourgeoisie meet together."

"Bourgeoisie. What does that mean?" I asked. "It's such a
big word."

"It is simply the ruling class," he said. "They are the
people who hold society. They are those who can become
wealthy because of trade or of business."

"So you are a bourgeoisie," I said.

The smile on his face looked kind and sad. "A bourgeois,
yes," he said. "Unfortunately."

"I don't mind being rich," I said. "It'll be a nice change."

He surveyed the fields. Bright green and yellow against a
light blue background dotted with whites. "This is nice,"
he said. "This is a nice change."

"No it's not and you know it," I said. "Look at you. You're
about to collapse."

He grinned. "Just give me a few more days," he said. "I'll
get used to this."

"Paolo's coming to see us today," I said.

He looked at me. "Paolo," he reiterated. "Your brother?"

I nodded. "Yes," I said. "My brother...who is on his way to
become a priest."

"That's nice," he said. "To serve God has awlays been one
of the highest callings anybody can answer."

"I did not want him to become a priest," I said. "It won't
help. It won't give us more money. We will still be poor."

There was sadness in his eyes. "Richness can only bring you
physical comfort," he said softly. "It does not give you a
sense of fulfillment in the long run. It does not make you
human. It does not make you a better person. It may even
drive you insane."

"How can something so wonderful drive people insane," I
asked. "It does not make sense."

"Riches give power to a person," he explained. "Power
corrupts a person. Greed invades his mind and his heart,
until he is more than willing to kill anybody just to get
what he wants."

"That's terrible," I breathed.

He nodded in agreement. "Life is terrible," he said. A
pause. "But sometimes, life seems beautiful. Like today.
For me, today, life is beautiful."

"Why?" I asked. I could hear my heart beating.

"Because I am finally going to taste the hardships of
life," he replied, his eyes focused on something far
away. "I am finally going to experience the part of life
that my parents have shielded me from. I'm going to be...a

I chuckled. "You are a man, Enrique."

It was the first time I called him by his name. My heart
seemed to stop. All the blood in my body rushed to my head,
focusing on the center of my tongue as I let the letters
pass slowly through my mouth. Enrique. It sounded like
music to my ears. Enrique. I soared.

He was looking at me again. His eyes, beautifully almond
shaped, fringed with dark lashes from all sides took my
breath away. His eyes seemed to bore into mine. Light
brown. I felt like I was drowning.

"I am not half the man that I want to be," he said softly.

But you are the man for me, I wanted to cry out.

"I still have so much to learn," he continued. "So much to

I gulped down my heart. "Is that why you are here?" I

He nodded. "Experience is always the best teacher."

At that moment, a tiny figure materialized from far away.
It was walking, clad in white. The hair was cut neatly. The
shoulders moved rhythmically as it made its way through the
dusty road.

"That's Paolo," I told Enrique, my heart swelling. "My

He nodded again. "It's nice to meet him."

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