2003-01-21 12:24:40 (UTC)

hoy there father

IT was a peaceful day. Quiet. Father was cutting down
stalks with his hand sickle far away. We could see Paolo
clearly. He looked surprised to find two figures sitting in
front of the house but still he waved.

"I hope he doesn't mind that I have taken his room,"
Enrique murmured, his eyes on the young man making its way
to us.

"He is a good man," I assured him. "Surely he will not

Enrique looked uncertain. "I hope so," he said.

Paolo began to jog when I waved back at him. Father must've
seen him for he let out a loud whistle, the sound ripping
through the silence of the afternoon.

Paolo let out a whistle back. "Hoy there Father!" he called.

"Hoy there Paolo!" Father called back and lifted his
sickle, the blade catching the light of the sun. Proud.

Enrique looked entranced by what was happening, his eyes
lingering on the sickle that stood high above the fields.

"Welcome home, son!" Father shouted. He had a goofy smile
on his face and he brought the sickle back down to continue
his task.

Paolo let out a loud whistle again to acknowledge what
Father had just said. He turned to us, his jog slowing to a

"Hoy Ate!" he said, a smile lifting the corners of his
lips. He was sweating under the afternoon sun. "You didn't
tell me we are having visitors today."

He was near enough and I reached out to give Paolo a brief
hug. "How was I supposed to tell you," I said, releasing
him. "The seminary is so far away."

Enrique had stood. He was looking at Paolo with a mixture
of fascination and curiosity.

"This is Enrique," I told Paolo, motioning with one of my
hands. "He is a friend of Lito's nephew. He's staying with
us for a little over a month."

Paolo extended a hand to the man before him. "It's nice to
meet you Enrique," he said. "Welcome to our town. I'm

"It's nice to meet you, Paolo," he replied, accepting the
extended hand.

"What brings you here, Enrique?" Paolo asked. He released
the other's hand. "You are from the city, I presume? Lito's
nephew resides in the city."

Enrique nodded. "Yes I am from the city," he said. "I'm
here with a group of my friends. We are on an immersion

Paolo's eyebrows shot up. "Immersion program," he repeated.

Enrique looked a bit uncomfortable. "Yes," he said. "It is
required. Of our group."

I could not read Paolo's face. He looked surprised,
worried, and doubtful at the same time. He seemed deep in
thought. Finally he spoke, "Be careful of what you say," he
said kindly. "Be careful of whom you trust. I am an honest
man. I will not relay to anybody what you have said to me.
But you must understand, that you must not say what you
told me to anybody ever again. If anybody asks, you must
say that you are here alone. Visiting friends. You must
never say you are doing an immersion program...and that it
is required of your group."

I was puzzled. "But Paolo," I said. "The entire town knows
that they are doing an immersion program."

Despair flashed in Paolo's eyes. "You are so naive," he
said, his voice broken. "How can you be so careless?"

"We are safe here," Enrique said confidently, but he looked
shaken. "It is a small town. Nobody knows."

"For your sake, I hope so," Paolo said. He looked at
me. "For your sake, too, Ate."