The Rayadillo General stopped himself to investigate the raucus caused by the neighing Peta and Pira way down back of the garetta. Peta had took a shine on the finely groomed Pira who had nothing to do with the Stinky old Peta. So she kicked him exactly where it should hurt.
With Grandfather and Isko separating the horses, the general took another drag on his American cigarette. It was getting dark and he might as well finish the story now, he thought, because next time he comes he will continue to translate for them Rizal’s second book. He then continued his narration…..
Andres At Bagumbayan
The thin, small eye doctor proceeded to the kitchen with gusto and, with the same ardor, vehemently worked the wooden batidor all the while telling me some jokes that I supposed were standard jokes from among his ilustrado friends in Europe. I did not laugh before he did though, because I could never know when he was serious or not. This man was serious in disposition, I once concluded, only to realize that it was worse. He was really a dreary, fate-beaten, gloomy man who appeared to be under the weather all the time. His glee that he exhibited for me were downright profound, though. He didn’t have many friends, that was for sure.
He glanced at me more than once through the doorway of the kitchen to perhaps keep the conversation going and to make sure that I didn’t depart early because he prepared for this occasion and that the milk had to be ladled in before it spoils.
And so, over the frothy and thick tsokolate espanol in tiny teacups, he talked about the firebrand, Andres. He saw this man first when he came in the church to hear mass, among other things. He was seated spread-eagled over half the length of the pew. When their eyes met. Rizal gave Andres a nod of hello for which Andres nodded back in a bow. The Cura saw them nod at each other, nods which may have been interpreted as an approval of a scheduled secret meeting. The priest knew about Andres’ secret group and, at this instance, he now deduced that Rizal was in on it too, particularly when he saw both of them after mass talking to each other.
Andres introduced himself to Rizal after the mass, declaring his amenities and respect for Rizal and recalling the two books that Rizal wrote. Both had mutual respect for each other, the doctor recounts, but he did not join Andres’ secret group.
Rizal described Andres as a hyperactive person who could not stay seated for long without fidgeting. He had to pace around to burn anxiety. He appeared to be very clean as if a daily bath was a habit, or diving for pearls was an occupation. He was built well and had the makings of a bull pulling a plow. At any rate, Rizal confided in me that he told Andres of his fear that a carnage would follow should there be a revolution now, to which Andres replied what would happen will happen. With this in mind, Rizal declined to speak to the secret group of Andres.
Several meetings followed this. Sometimes they met in church, at the dalampasigan, tiangge, anywhere but this his place of business where we were. This is being watched I was sure of this, which is why he wrapped the two books he gave me with red Chinese paper, the kind they wrap rice cakes with. In these meetings, Rizal told Andres what to tell his group as if Rizal was speaking to the group, and he told me he was glad of the news that the group was getting bigger with some distinguished and educated people joining. He was assured that the group would have some capable people to take over and run the government should it fall. And this was probably the main reason for the tsokolate espanol celebration, and the jokes. But that evening was delightful despite the fact that we had to be suspicious of every sounds of hob-nailed boots from the outside walk.
The next time I saw Dr. Jose Rizal was not the best of times. He had his elbows tied together behind his back while marching between two rows of guardia civiiles towards a spot in Bagumbayan.
As they marched past me, I peered thru the line of people and waved the red wrapping paper at him. He smiled as he recognized me and smiled. He remembered the red chinese paper snd nodded his head a number of times. He was elated to know that I have read the books and that I have agreed to retell it to the people. And then he saw what I thought was the figure of Andres at the opposite row of the crowd. There were some peop;le with him who looked as restless and as anxious as Andres, who suddenly barged through the crowd as if grimly waiting for a signal from the doctor. Rizal did not nod this time. he shook his head, instead, with more vigor the second and the third time around. With a pouted mouth, he pointed towards his shoe which he appeared to be shaking off the dust. Andres gave him a questioning stare. But Rizal might have been giving Andres a clue that there is something hidden in his shoe, most probably the Order of Battle for the revolution. The Lieutenant of the firing squad came up to see what is holding up the march. And thusly did Andres and his men fade away towards their boats.
The doctor declined his blindfold. The Teniente refused to make him face the firing squad. At the last moment, though, the doctor spun around to receive the shots at the front.
At that precise moment, the General stopped to appraise the impact of his last sentence to his audience. Some were heard sobbing. More so because the night was upon them and that their faces could not be recognized. The coughs are still distinctive, only that their faces are distinguished only from the light of their balulang cigarettes when they puff. The hush was also the cue for Isko to harness Peta to the calesa. It also gave the General the time to comment on Andres. He said that Andres possessed a splendid physique and a magnetic personality which was so commanding that when Andres says ‘tara na’ to his men the General finds himself preparing to go for no reason at all.
Andres would charge a rampart with or without men following him, ignoring any effort to restrain him from doing so. Such a big heart for battle earned him full adoration from his men. But he did go against the level-headed tactics of the other generals. There were disagreements all around, and when finally he realized that to win battles military tactics are needed. This he knew little about. The time that he gave in and followed the orders of the other generals was about the time when he was brought down.
Tragic, very tragic, decried the Rayadillo General.
Somebody handed the General a lit cigarette and he took a drag from it. Too late, he smoked a balulang! And so he started to cough hard, even harder as he climbed Isko’s calesa, up to the time that the calesa rounded the bend, a cough here, a spit there—clearly audible from the garetta, peopled with faces dimly-lit from cigarette embers.
And as the cacophony of sounds faded into the distance, the General’s coughings gradually merged contrapuntal with the clippity-clop-clippity-clop of the horse of Isko, Peta.