The Great Gilda Cordero-Fernando

(Read all the way to the end; this post has many digressions)

Re-reading a fantastic short story, “Hothouse,” by Gilda Cordero-Fernando, a mimeographed copy of which self just pulled from a closet overflowing with old files.

Thank you, Jennie and Marie Kondo for inspiring self to organize! She had to drop everything and leave for Manila for two weeks, supposedly Dearest Mum was at death’s door but for the second time in 18 months self flew home, burdened by great and tragic feelings — and this time she made sure to choose the longest flight, 19 hours and one stop-over, because she had a little tickle of doubt that perhaps the emergency wasn’t really an emergency — and sure enough she arrived in Manila absolutely wrung out, made straight to Dearest Mum’s, and found her quite cozy and well, TV blaring a Korean tele-nobela, she surrounded by a nurse, a kusinera, a driver, and miscellaneous. Honestly, self nearly had a nervous breakdown (or were those tears of joy?) at the sight.

Anyhoo, back to the closet cleaning. Back to “Hothouse!” Apologies for the longest digression ever! Self arrived home and discovered little grey hairs framing her face, new ones, a veritable halo. This is what she gets for flying home in the middle of rainy season, when Manila traffic is at its most chaotic.

Also, regarding rainy season: mosquitoes rule! Around both her ankles: bracelets of itchy red dots! There were big signs at US Immigration warning of a worldwide MEASLES EPIDEMIC and self was practically fainting with anxiety at the thought that an Immigration Officer might rise up, peer over his safety glass, take one look at the disgusting array of red dots circling both her ankles (She wore her last clean item of clothing: wouldn’t you know, a dress, so there was NO HIDING THE EVIDENCE) and shout, QUARANTINE! In fact, the US Immigration Officer was very nice (She got the single Asian Immigration Officer on duty, HALLELUJAH) and though he looked at her as though he had serious misgivings, eventually he stopped counting the number of visa stamps in her passport (She’s been all over the world, literally, the last decade) and LET HER IN to the most holy, beautiful (forgive the hyperbole) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Apologies again for that second — or third — digression. Here’s the opening sentence — FINALLY!!! — of “Hothouse.”

  • For a long time while I lived with Tia Dolor and quite a few years afterwards, I looked with condescencion upon her graceless way of life.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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