I am writing this the day when Typhoon Ulysses has left town, grateful that we survived. Ulysses was the worst storm we have ever experienced.
Before we got married I lived alone in a flat that I loved. It had two porches so there was always a cross-breeze. One wall of my bedroom was glass. When there was a moderate thunderstorm, I got scared because I lived there alone, no live-in help, no curtains or blinds. When there was a typhoon there was nothing to shield me from the cruel flashes of lightning that sometimes felt like it would hit me on my bed, the deafening roar of thunder, the rain falling in sheets. I was frightened, yes, but I survived.
But let me tell you that none of the storms were as fierce as Ulysses. We went to sleep before 10 p.m. We live in a different condo but on a higher floor. We have a small porch. We began to hear the blind that covers the door to the porch bang hard and that kept us awake. Our driver has been living with us ever since my husband got sick and began to lose his balance. My husband called him to please lock the door to the porch to stop the banging. He did and it stopped. We fell asleep.
But later we woke up, like we just wanted to visit the bathroom, but I think both of us were horrified but we didn’t want to admit it. We just lay down on the bed in silence, pretending to be asleep. The wind was so strong. It whistled relentlessly through the night. There was a strange rumbling that I suspected might be a huge truck driving up and down the street but I didn’t want to get up, walk to the window, lift the blinds and look down. I was afraid that, just when I did that, a huge sheet of corrugated iron blown away from a roof somewhere would hit our window and we would get hurt by splintered glass. I was so scared but I told myself I was fortunate to have gotten married because at the very least I didn’t have to sit through this monster of a storm alone.
Then I remembered that my daughter lived in her house by herself. Like her mother she did not have any live-in household help. She must have been afraid. At 1:23 a.m. I sent her a text. Not that it would do much help, but I wanted her to know that I was worried about her. True, she is in her 50s, but nevertheless my children are still my babies. Are you all right? I pray you are safe, I texted. I did not receive a reply from her until around seven in the morning.
Yes, thanks. Weaker now, thank God. Last night was intense. Are you okay? she responded.
It was terrible last night, I replied. Anyway, good to know you’re okay. Going back to sleep now. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. Instead I got up and went to the dining room. Our driver was worried about his family. He wanted to go home. We were all brutally rocked by Ulysses, rocked so strongly we could not go back to sleep. Except my husband. He slept the latest.
Now our tiny porch is a mess. The plants are blown down. I had an unbreakable lamp; now I should just throw it away. My husband is the opposite of me when it comes to window treatments. He likes to have windows and blinds always closed while I like them always open. I raised the blinds on the central bedroom window. I found that water had entered and left a long, shallow puddle. Strange, because the window is aluminum and glass. It cannot be opened. Maybe the original finish was worn and needed to be redone.
But my workroom, the other room in our flat, was all right. The window that I kept open all day was closed, probably by the driver. No water had entered to wet the rosaries I had left on the counter by the window. We live up near the sky and everything was all right.
But I remembered once, 42 years ago, when a friend who lived in Marikina called me frantically asking for help. We were having a typhoon similar to Ulysses. Their family lived in one of the Marikina villages. Water had filled up their first floor. They were now on their second floor panicking because snakes were twined around their window grills. That image of the snakes on the grills and the deep muddy floods stuck in my mind.
Now that we all survived, I’m so grateful to God that we live close to the sky. No snakes twined on the grills of our postage stamp porch.
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