Just as I have crass neighbors, I also do have charming ones--very little ones--whose teeny voices, if you stayed inside the house and just listened to them playing outside, you would think came straight out of Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. The kids speak English very well, and three of them study at The Learning Tree--which, I learned from Mitzi my co-teacher, is a great school for kids. (Must take note for future reference.)
Coming home from school one late afternoon, in the unpaved parking lot, the kids told me about this little bird that Erika found that had apparently dropped from the roof and landed near her slipper. It was unclear though if she was wearing them. They were all talking excitedly at once, and so I just caught bits of everybody's narration. Geno said there had been a broken egg, inside which was the little bird, and so when the excitement died down, I asked Erika--the eldest in the group, "Are you sure it wasn't balut?"
"Well," Erika always very poised, took time to speak because she's so lady-like, "It did looked like balut...But it wasn't balut. It fell from the rooftop and landed near my slipper."
"Tita May, Tita May," Marisse, the brassier one (she's president of her second-grade class, I heard) tried to get me to listen to her with such urgency, "We're going to have a funeral and we'd like you to join us." It was then I noticed that the kids were gathering stones and bougainvilla flowers and were indeed setting up for an elaborate funeral.
I wracked my brains for an excuse. They liked their Tito A, so I said, "But I'd have to fix dinner for Tito A or he'll be very hungry when he gets home."
"But it's just going to be for five minutes," Marisse said, the inflection in her voice was very American--very Rugrats.
"Yeah," Erika nodded and smiled very lady-likely. "Just five minutes." These kids really know how to persuade--I couldn't think of any more excuse that was going to sound very reasonable.
"Okay, then. Just call me when you're ready."
"Okay," chorused the kids.
So I waited and waited while I cooked rice, then washed the shrimps and cooked sinigang, then took the leftover porkchop from out of the fridge to thaw, then watched TV a bit, then took out the macaroni and chicken salad from out of the fridge. I thought that the kids had all forgotten about the funeral because they were happily playing in the driveway, then they were suddenly quiet. It was alredy 6 o'clock and I supposed it was because they had already been called in their repective houses for dinner. I was so relieved and so I relaxed and watched a bit more TV. Then, the teeny knock. It was getting dark, and so I could just see a couple of eyes peering just above the wooden panel on the screen door.
"Tita May, it's Marisse. I have an invitation for you."
And, true enought, the kids had made a hand-made invitation with an outline of the program.
The funeral rites finally pushed through at 7 pm and promptly ended 5 minutes later. They were all there: Erika, Geno, Geran, and Marisse. The only two adults in attendance were Gen (Erika, Geno and Geran's mom) and myself.
To my surprise the next morning, the little grave was in shambles.
Over breakfast, I told A about the funeral and the little grave that was now in disarray.
"Oh, so that's probably what the dog was eating last night" said A, as he poured cornflakes into his bowl. "Was wondering what it was. It sounded really crunchy."