I wasn’t there when my grandfather died.
He was my grandmother’s brother and I was his favorite apo. I remember as a very young child, I was all but spoiled with gifts of toys, money, and candy. My mom was his favorite pamangkin and when she had me I became the new apple of his eye.
I was in second year college when he passed away.
The family was going to have an intimate birthday celebration at my lola’s house that coming Saturday and I was supposed to be there…but I wasn’t. I can’t remember exactly why I wasn’t able to make it in retrospect. Maybe it was for the play we were busy preparing for, a band rehearsal for an upcoming gig, or a meeting for a big event by our student activist group.
I was all over the place doing a hundred things all at once back then and I guess I still am but I digress…
I got in late that Sunday, my mom catching me at the door as I got in.
“Why weren’t you here yesterday!?” she asked quite distraught.
“Nag-practice kami kahapon tapos may meeting ako kaninang umaga kaya ngayon lang ako nakauwi” I said as I entered the house looking for food.
“Hinahanap ka ng lolo mo.”
“I’m sorry I missed the party” I said apologetically.
“Anu’ng party? Your lolo’s dead.”
It was like a punch in the gut and for a few seconds I felt that I couldn’t breathe. My mother was explaining everything, how it was all so sudden but her voice was just a dull sound in the background as the rush of blood was like a roar in my ears.
I was numb for almost a week after that. I did everything by rote and outwardly I didn’t let on about what was happening inside me. I didn’t really know how to deal with the guilt that was eating me up.
I wasn’t there when my lolo died. He was looking for me and I wasn’t there.
One night as my friends and I were sitting around in my dorm, one of my buddies who was into the occult mentioned that he had recently acquired a new Ouija board and that he was raring to try it out. Having nothing better to do I went along for the ride.
It was your typical juvenile session with the girls asking about love and crushes and the boys asking if they would be successful and accomplished later in life. There were laughs and giggles as several fingers touched the planchette as it moved around from one letter to the other to answer the questions as fast as they were asked.
I was content to just watch and let them have their fun.
Besides, I don’t think the planchette can accommodate more hands with five people already touching it.
Midway into the session however, the planchette stopped then suddenly started moving again in a circular fashion. The others got a bit nervous and started accusing each other of manipulating the planchette which everyone denied.
At this point the owner of the Ouija board declared, “there’s someone else here who wants to talk”.
He instructed everyone not to panic and to not let go of the planchette.
After everyone has calmed down a bit he asked, “sino ka?”
The planchette spelled out a name no one recognized…except me.
It was my late grandfather’s nickname.
Everyone was seriously freaked out at this point and then the planchette started moving again. One of my friends was busy scribbling the letters while the rest of the group did their best to keep their courage up.
“Hindi ako galit sa ‘yo, apo” it said.
At this point the tears just started streaming down my face.
“I just wanted to say goodbye.”
I whispered, “I love you, lolo”.
The planchette spelled out “I love you too, apo” and then it was still.
We never used the Ouija board again after that day and I’d like to think my friends developed a new found respect for the supernatural but it’s most probably fear more than anything else. I walked out of that room not with fear but with a lighter heart knowing that a loved one who passed away continues to love me even in the afterlife.
“I love you, lolo”.