Posted by cool_ambo on October 29th, 2009 | 0 comments
M A T A N G L A W I N by cool_ambo
The Doctor Witch
ONCE AGAIN I STEP INTO ANDANTE’S PARLOR, like a fly stepping into a spider’s web. No fret have I—this is not her parlor. This parlor is mine by inheritance, not hers, not even hers by relation, for she is not even related to me.
My father would have given this parlor to her, nonetheless; and I would, too, even if my father did not; if only to show my gratitude for the countless times her eye shielded me from the many dangerous firefights I fought in Mindanao, most of which were won by a charge that I led with reckless abandon. Her powers were mainly responsible for my coming out of these fights unscathed. Indeed I would have given her the house if she asked for it, because I really do not need a safe haven anytime she is on my side.
Father made a contract with Andante. In exchange for awarding her the family name plus getting her through a medical course with a doctor’s degree, she would assure that I am safe. This would be a long time assurance for me because these ‘mangkukulams;’ or ‘monks’ for short, do not ever, ever die; unless, of course, their powers were transferred to a willing recipient who would have been transformed into a new ‘monk’.
Now, my grandmother was reputed to be a ‘monk’ (which is probably the reason why there has been no love lost between the two of us). My mother passed away first. Consequently, before my grandmother can die, somebody has to receive her witchcraft,
meaning me, mostly, or else she would be doomed to roam the earth. Comes now Andante
who has agreed to receive her powers and the immortality that goes with it. In effect, Andante redeemed me from a deathless fate, which was in truth, worse than death.
AND THERE AGAIN I STAND AT WHAT WAS ONCE A BALLROOM. It is all dark. The windows are all closed and barred. I see from the candlelight, the winding staircase, the gothic pillars, reproductions of Goya on the wall, Da Vinci, El Greco, Amorsolo and Luna. And shelves, a lot of shelves were added , and on which rest large bottles of deformed fetuses, cancerous livers, frogs, snakes, and rats swimming in formalin. Also dried komodo tongues, lizard tails, bat wings, barks and herbs and huge facsimiles of human skulls and skeletons that rattled as they dangle from the ceiling. And that square, tailor’s table etched with a huge pentagram at the center now brings to my mind some reminiscences of Andante, and the ordeal that I helped put her in.
I vividly recall her, oh how could I ever forget Andante in all her nakedness, sprawled in a stupor over this table with my grandmother the monk firing up incense that smelt like ether. The monk, who had me summoned from the adjoining house, suddenly turned to mark a smaller pentagram over my left breast with her fingernail that did not cut but burned through my uniform. She cackled as she did this. I never liked her when she does this cackling sounds. I covered nude Andante with my jacket as the monk pulled out a green empty can of half-and-half pipe tobacco, and took out about eight or ten porous lava rocks the size of marbles. One by one she proceeded to pop these rocks in her mouth and to swish them together with the dried things she was chewing. She pulled out Andante’s tongue and bade me to hold it out while she spat the chewed mush of lava rocks in Andante’s mouth. This gagged Andante. In the next instant, the monk brought out two flat, white oval stones and stuck them between Andante’s cheeks and teeth. A
pentagram was then etched over her left breast pointed side up, drawing blood in profusion. Andante started trashing from her waist down to her feet which started to bang on the table repeatedly. I shoved a bolt of cloth under her heels to prevent them from fracturing. The monk flung away my jacket that covered Andante, adding that she should be initiated to her domain naked as the day she was born.
After a while, her trashing came in regular intervals, preceded each time by rumblings in her stomach. I had to shove the bolts of cloth under her ankles to those points requiring the buffer. Holding her feet down was useless because she was smeared all over with some greenish, slippery oil. All this time, the monk was mumbling and spraying some smelly liquid on the floor with a dry palm frond. Suddenly, Andante’s lower body stopped trashing and her upper body picked up the shakes. The monk kicked away her slippers to stand barefooted, pinning Andante’s left hand with her right, and Andante’s right hand with her left. I climbed on the table, sat on her belly, and pinned down her left shoulders with my knees and her head with my hands. With a choke, she spat out the pebbles. The monk called for the black duffle bag and slid it whole on Andante, feet first. After I tightened the bag around her neck, I found the monk slumped on the floor, exhausted.
When I came back after a change of clothes. I saw the duffle bag floating in the air with the monk feebly trying to hold it down. Andante was levitating. It appeared that she has defied gravity and is now floating in the air so lightly that the slightest nudge would have sent her flying off. I cut a long strip of cloth from the bolt and anchored the duffle bag a foot away over the table. This was the monk’s last set of instructions to me before she disappeared through a hidden door on the wall.
Pretty soon, a piercing shriek came from Andante. It grew louder and louder until little lightning sparks emanated from her body to touch the ground. The chandelier came crashing down and cracked the ballroom floor. And she came down on the table bodily with a thud.
She woke up an hour later, but before then I took off the duffle bag from her and wrapped her with cloth. Her pentagram was scarred and reddened. Mine was sore. Her left eye turned from blue to black. She got up and walked half-dazed, and began to dance around the floor. That was the most enchanting sight I have ever seen—-Andante in a light blue chiffon wrap, covered with an aura of sparks, dancing around with her feet barely touching the ballroom floor. If ever there were fairy diwatas in this world, I would see Andie as one of them. In this very once in a lifetime moment, I can ignore the dreadful stare from her eye, and drink only of her graceful levitated turns, and her very intoxicating smile.
End Chapter 6—
(Please do not attempt to duplicate the procedure for transforming a witch as described here if you are not a professional monk, as amateuristic incantations are reportedly the causes of these fly-by-night joy rides.)