“I do not know this blue-skinned man,” said the farmer next door, when Menggay asked him. “But here, I will give you this milk from the carabao you helped cure. It is thick and goes down smoothly; maybe it can help make your journey smoother.”
Menggay thanked the farmer and put the bottle of milk in her little bag, where it clinked gently against the bottle of water her mother had prepared for her.
“I do not know where he lives, but that blue-skinned man is a siokoy, a merman,” said the town albularya. “Here, take this magical ring you helped me find. It is made of gold, so you can sell it or trade it if you need to. But never put it on, because only an albularya like me can wear a magic ring like that without strange things happening.”
Menggay thanked the albularya and put the ring on a string around her neck.
“I know where to find that siokoy!” said the fisherman from the shore. “He lives at the bottom of a big whirlpool. It is very strong and has been known to destroy many boats, so no one goes near it. But because you helped me find true love, I will take you there in my fishing boat, and we will see if we can reach your chicken.”
So Menggay thanked the fisherman; climbed into his boat; asked the fisherman’s washer-woman girlfriend to please tell her parents where she had gone; and set off to sea.
It took quite a while before Menggay and the fisherman reached the siokoy’s whirlpool. Luckily, Menggay had her baon of pandesal, which she shared with the fisherman; and they made the bread into sandwiches with his stock of dried fish. They were a bit tired, but not hungry at all by the time they spotted the big, strong whirlpool.
It was very scary-looking, spinning quickly and roaring hungrily, as if it wanted to eat up the little fishing boat and the people inside it as well. Way, way down at the very bottom of the whirlpool, Menggay thought she could see a small figure on a dry patch of sand, standing over an even smaller figure that might be her beloved chicken.
“Down there!” she said, as politely as she could while shouting to be heard over the sound of the water.
“I see them!” the fisherman shouted back. “But the whirlpool is too rough and too strong! Our boat will be torn to pieces if we can’t find a smoother way down!”
Menggay remembered the bottle of milk that the farmer next door had given her, and the words he had said while giving it. So she took the bottle from out of her small bag; opened it; and spilled the thick, smooth carabao milk over the side of the boat and into the whirlpool.
As she and the fisherman watched, the white carabao milk spiraled down into the depths of the whirlpool, making the angry waters calm wherever it touched them with its creamy smoothness, and showing a thick, white, safe path down to the bottom of the sea.
Quickly, the fisherman guided his boat along the path marked in carabao milk; and he and Menggay went down, down, down, and down. The little fishing boat sailed upright and unshaken, in spite of the rushing waters all around them.
to be concluded next Tuesday!
Check out the rest of the posse!
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos