Summer of the Hex

Hubby says we are cursed: someone put a bad spell on us. That’s why our beautiful orange tree, which bore fruit seemingly year-round for almost 20 years, died.

And why Gracie got all sorts of stomach trouble.

And, now, self’s car.

Hubby reminds self that, 20 years ago, self came back from a visit to Manila with three tiny bottles, about an inch high. Two of the bottles contained a tiny carving of a right hand. One had brambles. Tiny, tiny clear glass bottles, which self bought from a vendor in front of Quiapo Church.

Self remembers that, when she was growing up in the Philippines, she never felt the slightest interest in going to Quiapo Church. So it had to be when she was married, a mother, and already living in California. If self remembers correctly, her New York niece and nephews happened to be visiting, and Dearest Mum had taken them to Mindoro. Self stayed behind, and it was so much fun to watch TV with no one else but the maids.

One afternoon, she and the erstwhile cook, Irene, took a jeepney to Quiapo. Self saw with her own two eyes the Pollution Index, standing above the square. She felt the thickness of the many bodies and the heat, and she was stunned at her first view of the Black Nazarene. Outside the church were many many vendors, selling crucifixes and other objects said to be holy, and self doesn’t know why but she suddenly asked an old woman whether she had any “charms.” The woman told self to wait. She darted up an alley. She came back with the three bottles.

“They’re very powerful,” she told self. Sold!

The next year, or was it two years later, self’s only sister suddenly took very sick with pneumonia. Strange but, today, since self doesn’t dare go anywhere with her useless car, she decided to root around the garage. She opened an old chest of drawers and found, in the first drawer, the shirt her sister had mailed to son, the same month she died. Self’s sister died the week before Christmas. A few days later, a package came in the mail, the address written in her sister’s hand. It contained that very same shirt, that shirt that self is now looking at. Son never wore it. Or maybe he did, once. It’s an olive green cowboy shirt. Her sister mailed it, and then the next week, she entered the hospital and then she died.

But self doesn’t believe in hexes. Does she? Hubby says to throw away the bottles. She kept two. A friend from India, who lives now in Bangalore, asked for one. Self had him choose, and he chose one of the bottles with the tiny carvings of a right hand. As far as self knows, nothing bad has happened to this friend. He teaches at a university in Madras. He has two little girls.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Paragraph 2 of the Story Begun Yesterday

I called to say I would be in the Bay Area for a few days; we met at a Starbucks at a mall near you: there was a Read the rest of this entry »

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