Enduring War

She was no Lola Basyang, that much I know. At least my mom told me so before grandma passed away—along with a memory I’ve never tasted, a tale never told, a woman not known to me. Reluctantly facing a marriage offer now from a man I have always loved, my mom one night reacquainted me to her; her struggles, her love, and her life. This is her story—now mine.

You thought you knew the story. Her parents do not like him at all, besides the fact that she was only 22, which mattered a lot then. He was 26.

It was a time before a war was threatening the tranquil clouds of the village. It was getting crazier everyday. References of women from far-flung villages brutally raped, homes plundered and burned, children orphaned and their fathers killed were spreading like wildfire. They were not without basis.

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It was also a time when heroes are born and foment the revolution for their nation to be one again with freedom. The foreigners were fast advancing their occupation of the native land.

But for the star-crossed lovers, these did not matter. To which their parents protested with a noble objective: for them to put service to their motherland above themselves. She was to become a nurse, and he was a soldier. But why should love understand war except to make it an excuse to hurry love before war could come?

One day, they planned to elope and to meet at their love tree. It was on top of a hidden hill with only the flowing river and the other lush forests at its horizon, and their passion for each other that kept them warm even with just a blanket and a picnic bag (which she always had to hide from her parent’s prying eyes).

At the appointed hour, the man came but found only the picnic bag and a note inside it, which read:

“I know you will not doubt me if I told you that I have decided to fulfill my chores to our motherland. I have never stopped loving you, and I never will. Until that time when we meet again, bring with you my love. I am sure it will strengthen you as much as your love has brought me here. And very soon, to you.”

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A few days after, there was only the smoke and the fury of war in the horizon. The man, as did every young man in the village, left for battle. Time went past, an eternity to him. As it was for her when she dreads attending to the next patient, and seeing only the face of the man she loves.

The war that put them apart finally set the stage for their reunion by ending itself.

The man came back with a broken leg, hit by enemy shrapnel. Reluctant to meet her again because of his injury, he took a step back just before he could knock on the door where she and her parents now live.

But she has always been there, waiting for him no matter what.

They married, blessed now by their parents, and them finally understanding the nobility of their parents’ motives then. They had two children thereafter, a boy and a girl.
Unknown to him though, the woman had been suffering from a lingering illness even then. That night after dinner with the now grown-up kids, when they both have only themselves and the quiet but well-lit horizon of the city now before them, her suffering ended in his warm embrace.

At her funeral, the man read the letter that had strengthened him at the height of the revolution. Its message, he said, still rings true now, ” and until that time when we meet again.” He gave his wife, his love, one final look.

It was only then that I, granddaughter to a magical tale of love and war, came to understand what the revolution was all about, beyond the bloodshed it had caused and the freedom it gained for us: It was love that brought us there. And very soon, to a completion of ourselves.

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