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2003-02-13 04:52:03 (UTC)

cicadas were singing

IT did not take long for Mother and Father to find out.
Until now, I do not know what gave me away. Was it the
bounce in each step that I took? The happiness that
overwhelmed me that left me feeling warm? I wonder if I was
becoming more beautiful...People say that a woman becomes
more and more beautiful whenever she's in love.

Mother and Father did not mind at all. In fact, they were
pleased. They loved Enrique. Enrique, the rich city boy,
who slept on a cot, worked the fields, bathed the carabao
and every now and then, helped in the housework. He cooked,
he swept the floor, he helped with the laundry. There were
times that he would even go with me to the market,
contribute to the shouting and bargaining.

Enrique's hands were dark and rough. But I rejoiced each
time they touched me or held me close. I did not know what
his plans were. Would he stay on in this town or would he
bring me to the city? Would he ask me to marry him? Or
should I do the asking?

One night when everybody had retired, Enrique and I slipped
out of the house and went to the creek. We made our way
slowly and rested under a big tree. The sound of water
moving gently filled our ears. Cicadas were singing. It was
a beautiful night.

We sat under the tree. Enrique placed an arm around my
shoulders and pulled me close. I sighed with deep

"Gorgeous night, huh?" he said softly. "Not too hot, never
too cold. It's just right."

I nodded. "The night is beautiful because of you," I said.

He smiled. "And you," he replied.

"Are we going to get married?" I asked suddenly.

He chuckled. "Oh dear," he said. "Oh dear." He turned his
face to look at me straight in the eyes. "Do you want to
get married?" he asked.

I nodded. "Yes," I said. "To you."

"And where do you want to live?"

"It doesn't matter," I said with a shake of my head. "I'll
go wherever you want to go. Stay in this town, live in the
city, go somewhere else..."

"What about here?" he whispered.

"Live here?" I asked. "I don't mind."

"No," he said, whispering. "Do you want to go where I go
right here under this tree..right now?"

"What do you mean?"

He leaned over and kissed me on the lips. "I'm going to
make you my wife," he said, his breath hot against my face.

It was that night that I gave myself to him.

When we were done and began to put our clothes on, I
started to giggle.

He looked puzzled. "Something funny?" he asked.

I shook my head, still giggling, and said, "I was just
thinking...that...it's a good thing you're not a priest."

He grinned. "Believe me the life of a priest is definitely
not for me."

"Paolo is actually wondernig the same thing," I said,
pulling my shirt on. "He's in love with a girl. Actually
he's in lust with a girl."

"Really." Enrique looked surprised. "Are you serious?"

I nodded. "Her name's Leah and she's a student of his. He
wants her badly. I don't know if he has already taken her."
I looked at him coyly. "I told him to take her since he's
not a priest yet. In my opinion, he should just get out of
the seminary. There is no point in becoming a priest. He's
just going to make his life difficult and we will still be

"It's true that the life of a true priest is difficult," he
said. "But you must understand that most priests are not

"How can that be? Then why do we have to keep sending
chickens to the church if the priests are not poor?"

He chuckled. "Those chickens are to atone for your sins,"
he replied. "I'm not sure but I think they are called
indulgences. It is a very old Catholic tradition. I'll have
to read up on that."

"But still," I protested. "I do not see rich priests
walking around here."

"But the church itself is rich is it not," he said. "A lot
of things in the church are made of gold. They're very very
expensive. If you go to the quarters of a priest, you will
see the luxury that he lives in. Priests eat the finest
food. Drink the finest wine. There is no business in this
world richer than the Roman Catholic Church."

"But..." I began.

He did not let me finish. "Priests give three vows to God,"
he said. "The vow of obedience, of poverty, and of
chastity. As you can see, the vow of obedience has been
broken because the vow of poverty has been broken as well.
Priests are not poor at all. And the vow of chastity? Well,
priests take anybody. The nuns, the students, fellow
priests, whoever they fancy. You must understand that
priests are not holy men. They are simply men. With urges.
And it takes much much discipline to control these urges."

I was speechless. Somehow, I knew all those were true even
before he told me. There were things that I knew but never
voiced them out. And for what reason?

"But don't be disheartened," he continued gently. "There
are priests who fulfill all three vows. They are a minority
but they are still there. They are part of the light
bearers of this dark world."

I nodded. "Then they must endure burning," I said softly.

He smiled. "Come," he said, getting up to his feet. "It's
late. We best head home."

The cicadas were silent when we left.

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