Friday, October 11, 2013

Fiction by Guest Blogger, ERLINDA KRAVETZ, "Song from the Mountain"

Dear Readers,
For your weekend reading, we have a Guest Blogger, Erlinda V. Kravetz, author of Krystal Hut: Stories. It is available in paperback and e-book from, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, and other online book retailers.te. ~ Cecilia
Enjoy Song from the Mountain, a short story from her collection, Krystal Hut: Stories. The story is also part of the collection, Fiction by Filipinos in America, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, which is available in Kindle and Nook.

Introduction to the short story, Song from the Mountain by Erlinda V. Kravetz

          These stories were culled from the scores of short stories I’ve written over the years starting in the late 80’s when I gave up journalism to write fiction.
        I had always wanted to write fiction but I also had to make a living. Journalism was a happy and serendipitous compromise – it allowed me to write, meet all kinds of people, travel, and collect experiences.  All those people  (they had to be, in one way or another,  ‘newsworthy’ to deserve a write-up) I met in my reporting career stayed with me and fed my imagination. As a graduate student and, briefly, an employee of the United Nations, I had also met and befriended - in addition to many Americans, one of whom I married  -  Latinos, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, French and others from all corners of the world.

         I have lost touch with most of them, but through the years, I could not dislodge them from my memory. It was as if they had  hopped onto my shoulders and refused to leave their perch with stories waiting to be told.  I was compelled to transform them into fictional characters; only then could I let them go.
        For me, it was not  a leap as much as a long, drawn-out crossing from true-life to imaginative writing.  To learn the craft I read a lot of short stories – classic and contemporary; I eschewed MFA programs although I went to a few writers’ workshops. I read, voraciously, fiction by Latin American, Asian, Russian, English and American writers. I worshipped at the feet of Anton Chekov, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, John Updike, John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov.  To this day I am not sure what gave me more pleasure: the reading or the making up of stories. I like to believe they go hand in hand.
         I wrestled with some anxieties: in the beginning I worried about diluting my perspective and sensibilities as a non-Western writer – specifically, as a Filipino writing in English -  of sounding bogus, of  my stories being derivative.  Should I restrict myself to Filipino-American characters,  for the dictum goes that one should write what one knows.  What about the non-Filipinos on my shoulders?
      But there was this: the universality of the human experience. I saw the anguish of Chekov’s men and women no different from that of Cheever’s or Updike’s WASP characters, or of Flannery O’Connor’s morally conflicted or grotesque Southerners.
      There was no escaping that I was an expatriate, an immigrant, born and bred in an ‘alien’  culture.  And I think living in America gave definition to my so-called “unique perspective”  as a hyphenated-American writer. It imbued in me a sense of humility, the distance and detachment I needed to write about my compatriots. Theirs are stories of courage to pull up stakes, strike out for the New World and graft themselves onto a new and fast-changing world. In the collection I included stories set in the Philippines, with grinding poverty as the common thread. I make no apologies – social inequality is a theme close to my heart.  Without darkness, no light.
            For this, my first published book, I selected stories with Filipino and Filipino-American protagonists because I felt they have been my strongest pieces, whose characters were closest to my heart.
       Cecilia, whose novels and other writings opened my eyes to richness of  the Philippine culture and its literary possibilities, picked Song from the Mountain to reprint in her well-read and excellent blogpost.  I feel greatly privileged. It was the first piece short story I wrote. I don’t believe , compared to what came after it, that it’s my most polished or ‘mature’ story.  On re-reading it, I felt the kinetic pulse of the first-person narrative, the confidence and energy of  its young protagonists, the urgency of plunging headlong into a new journey, the heady taking of risks.  Cecilia, the writer, must have sensed this, too.


Song from the Mountain
by Erlinda Kravetz
copyright by Erlinda Kravetz, all rights reserved

TWO DAYS AFTER AUGUSTO AND I ELOPED and were married by the town mayor, I almost became a widow. Only his good reflexes saved him from his would-be assassin, my father. Father was normally a calm, even-tempered man, but on that day, as soon as word about our elopement reached him, something in him just snapped
It was a sweltering day and we had taken the three-hour bus ride to my parents’ town to ask their blessing. As we got off the bus, my new husband held a red and orange umbrella to shield me from the sun’s piercing rays.
My father immediately accosted us, brandishing a rusty three-foot long machete, and I knew right away he had gone berserk. His eyes flashed, his clothes were in disarray, his jaws chattered, his mouth foamed at the corners. He moved like a clumsy matador - swaying, feet wide apart, knees slightly bent. With two hands, he grasped the machete’s handle. He lunged toward my husband, but Augusto sprang back and sprinted to safety. Father chased him for about a mile. A crowd quickly formed like chickens attracted to feed. They scampered out of Father’s way until he was subdued and disarmed by the police constabulary.
My parents had promised me in marriage to another man - an older man, a civil servant. I did not love him. Instead I ran away with Augusto, my high-school sweetheart. By doing so, I shamed my family.
My father was not arrested for the attempted murder. He did what was expected of him - save face, salvage the family honor. Nothing was said of the incident after that. Augusto and I started a life of our own. We lived in Baguio at the time, where we both grew up. It was a pokey mountain resort town carved out of the Cordillera in Central Luzon. It had a large American community, drawn to the place by its spring-like weather and the gold mines. The Americans had transformed their part of town into a gaudy colonial enclave. In high school some of my classmates were American boys and they were a great distraction. I fell secretly in love with every one of them. But I was shy and my parents disapproved of any familiarity with foreign boys. Girls, my mother told us, cheapened themselves by associating with them.
We, from a peasant family, were made to feel virtuous and respectable with our own kind. We gorged on pride, honor loyalty. With love, we were frugal: a little went a long way. A furtive look from a beloved splintered into a thousand meanings.
In secret we the young ones, too, succumbed. The foreigners turned us into a generation of covetous voluptuaries poised between two cultures.
         “I can’t imagine spending the rest of our lives in this backward place,” Augusto said as we sat on a concrete bench in Baguio’s Burnham Park, admiring the perfect rows of zinnias, daisies and marigolds, their leaves and petals singed by the tropical sun. The Americans had built this park in the center of town and planted it with trees and flowering plants shipped from the United Sates. We walked beneath a row of willow trees, pensive. Our thoughts pierced through the blue skies, beyond the mountains girded by rice terraces that shimmered in the sun like a gigantic garland.
“We will never amount to anything, just like our parents,” my new husband went on.
A year and a half after our marriage, Augusto left for the Sates on a student visa and immediately acquired a new first name: Gus. A college graduate, Bachelor of Arts in economics, summa cum laude, he was filled with ambition. I was seven months pregnant then with our first child. I could not join him because his visa did not allow the spouse to come along. But his plan was to send for me and our child as soon as he obtained a green card. I wasn’t sure how he would work out the visa problem because the immigrants’ quota from our country was filled and there was a freeze on new applications. America considered us superfluous, unless we were nurses, doctors and medical technicians.
But Augusto was a resolute, enterprising man. I can tell you stories of how he survived in New York hustling, using his wits, maintaining at all times his equanimity. He was like an animal raised in captivity then let loose in the land of freedom.
Augusto wrote me as soon as he arrived in New York in the winter. He had no job yet or money to make a deposit on an apartment. He met an old friend who had storage space in the basement of his apartment building. Gus - that was how he signed his name in his letters - appropriated that space as a bedroom promising his friend he wouldn’t make trouble for him. Gus slept on a mattress he found at the curb outside the friend’s building. In the morning, before anyone was up, he showered and shaved in the men’s room in the lobby.
Soon after finding temporary shelter, he worked at any job that came along: as an orderly at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, as a dishwasher for a Cuban restaurant on the upper west side, as a parking-lot attendant downtown. When my friends inquired, I said my husband was a fulltime student on a full scholarship and didn’t have to work.
But Gus did not mind taking on demeaning jobs.
“What do I care about losing face? Nobody around here knows me and everybody’s too busy to mind other people’s business,” he wrote to me. Months later as he came to know the ways of the city, he decided to work for himself to give him more time for his studies. He salvaged a red Beetle that had been abandoned on Riverside Drive, got a driver’s license, called a few small companies, and he was in business delivering urgent mail and paychecks. He flourished.
“America is amazing,” he wrote me. “Here you have a lot of freedom; you can do anything, be anything you want.” I had heard that line many times before, but coming from my husband alone in the New World, it tolled with new resonance.
All those years we were separated I was faithful to him. Not that the opportunity did not present itself. At an American mining company where I worked as a staff nurse, I made friends with some of the young American male employees who all looked like Hollywood stars to me.  But my father’s machete, stiff, gleaming in his hand, remained for me the symbol of marital fidelity. I worked long hours, earning just enough to feed  myself and Butch. I fended off advances from the Robert Redfords and Paul Newmans of the American community - amorous overtures which at night transmuted into lusty adventures of my fantasies.
At last, Augusto, after a couple of years, sent for me  and Butch. Before leaving, I went to see my father to say goodbye. Now a widower, he still blamed me for my mother’s untimely demise. He refused to talk to me  and would not acknowledge his young grandson.
        Butch and I joined Gus in New York, in a one-bedroom apartment on Morningside Heights. Gus had found a fulltime job at Merrill Lynch as a financial analyst and was finishing his MBA at Fordham.
      We started saving for a house in New Jersey. We wanted to build a good, decent life for our son and other children that might come. Months later, I found a job as a secretary at the United Nation’s medical clinic - a good job for a woman from a remote Asian village. But no big deal, really. Hundreds of other girls from my country - pert and pretty - who otherwise would have been working the big hotels along Manila Bay or be illegals in New York, found jobs at the UN.
Before I found work, my son Butch and I stayed home most of the time, disoriented, existing in a haze as we tried to fit into the fixed, busy rhythm of Gus’s life. Through the hoarfrost of our window, I watched people swaddled in thick clothes, feet encased in heavy boots as though they were geared for battle. I didn’t have the nerve to go down and join that blustery swirl of humanity. Why are they running, Mom? A worried Butch would ask me. “They are afraid of the darkness which comes very fast,” I replied.
Butch and I periodically craved native dishes. When that happened, we indulged ourselves. Now that we were in America, I didn’t believe in depriving ourselves. I summoned the courage to take the bus to Port Authority on 42nd Street to buy groceries at the Filipino stores on Ninth Avenue. I loaded up on rice noodles, shrimp paste, achuete, fish sauce, bitter melon, fresh coriander.
But this was all lost on my husband who had acquired an American taste and refused to eat Filipino food. He had sloughed off his origins and expected me also to adapt to the New World.
“You’ve been cooking that stinking adobo again,” he would sneer, pinching his nose against the lingering odor of stewed pork laced with garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. “The whole building knows what we’re eating.”  He made me feel backward, provincial, when he talked like that. Butch had no problem. He quickly lost his accent and would speak only American English.
I could not bring myself to ask my husband how he found sexual outlet during our separation. It’s not my way. I took it for granted he slept with white women. Asian men harbor dreams of making love to a blonde woman at least once in their lifetime. If only to find out first hand if her secret hair is as naturally golden as that on her head; if her nipples are pink, not the nut-brown of Oriental women. To see if American women are as sexy as they are portrayed in Hollywood movies.
Gus told me once how he had been kept awake all night by a couple’s lovemaking just above his apartment. The couple has since moved out so I have no way of corroborating it.
“Every single night,” he said. “I don’t think they ever rest. Americans are really oversexed.”
“Overfed and over here…..” I quickly added.  The words, from a popular joke about American servicemen in the Philippines, automatically came out of my lips. It was silly, but this kind of banter added levity and humor to our marriage.
I did not plan to, but I had an affair. My lover was French, a journalism student at Columbia University. It was so convenient. He lived in our building, in the south wing for unmarried men. We occupied the wing for married couples. I’d go to Pierre’s apartment after dinner, while Gus was still at Fordham and Butch slept. Sometimes I’d come home in the middle of the day to be with him. Those were the times he was supposed to be covering news assignments for his advanced reporting class. Sometimes, on the IRT local, on my way home, I’d stop by the Journalism Building on 116th Street to see him.
He introduced me to his classmates as his girlfriend. “Hi, I’m Perla Cuevas,” I’d chirp.
When we were together at his place, Pierre double-locked his door but unlatched the fire escape window. We did drills the first summer we got together on how to climb down the ladder. The steel bars burned my palms. I imagined them like ice in winter.
“I love you, chérie, but fighting a duel is so corny,” he told me the first time we made love. I felt diminished, unimportant. I could do an Emma Bovary.
He said: “The important thing is not to panic, not to attract attention, and everything will be okay.” “Okay,” I said, drawing up the cotton bed sheet and the chenille bedspread to my naked breasts, my legs sticky with our warm bodily juices.
“I wouldn’t worry,” I assured him.
I could not see Gus inflamed by my infidelity, for he, too, had a lover. I found that out by accident. From Pierre, no less. He and my husband were nodding acquaintances. I had proposed going out to dinner as a foursome (coming to America, we tried to shake off our moral shackles.)
“Maybe he should take Caroline along,” Pierre said, and for a moment I was dumbfounded. Pierre had known about Gus and Caroline for sometime, but either he had elected to be discreet or infidelity did not mean anything to him. I didn’t go to pieces. I had seen Caroline a couple of times in our lobby even though she did not live in our building. She was a receptionist at Merrill Lynch, of Rubenesque build, a few years older than I am. She had milky white skin, thick, shoulder-length blond hair, and large gleaming white teeth. Her legs and feet were plump, like overstuffed sausages -  America is so generous, even to its women - tiny red dots dusted her calves.
Beside her, I looked  bland, with my petite build, small features and dusky complexion. But Pierre made me feel desirable, exotic, beautiful, as delicate and ephemeral as a tropical bloom. He had a passion for svelte, brown-skinned, doe-eyed Asian women with  high cheekbones. He was an indefatigable lover. With him I could be carefree, I could forget the harshness of my new life in New York. Pierre’s dream was to flee the city, to go to Southeast Asia and work as a correspondent. His brother, who worked for the French embassy in Bangkok, drove a Porsche, owned a pet puma, and had a beautiful Thai girl for a housemaid. Back home in their native France, the brother was a nobody.
I met Pierre LeTourneau at an international students’ fair sponsored by our apartment’s tenants’ association. That was three months after I arrived in the States. The guests were mostly foreign students and visiting professors, some of  whom came in their native costumes. Gus refused to wear the beaded G-string of his tribal ancestors that I had brought with me as a souvenir. He wore a dark three-piece suit, his Merrill Lynch attire.
At the fair, held in our apartment lobby, Gus played the piano for an all-student band. He was a good musician. I manned one of the ethnic booths, wearing my native dress - a long ecru gown with butterfly sleeves and décolletage. With my long hair up in a French twist, I looked like a young Imelda Marcos before greed and power bloated her.
A man, pale-blond, of slight build, with a sharp inquisitive look, came over to my booth. He was smiling with anticipation, like a cat waiting for a mouse to emerge out of a crack in the wall. He fingered the plastic palm leaves that decorated my booth and looked over the display of food, smacking his thin lips.
“My name is Perla Cuevas,” I introduced myself. “Would you like to try the lumpia? It’s an egg roll. Or rice cake?” I pointed to the trays of  food in front on him covered with Saran Wrap.
He rubbed his palms together, and said, “Yes, please, I would like very much to try the egg roll. It looks délicieux.” I brandished a wooden tong and with delicately plucked two egg rolls which I handed him on a small paper plate.
“Enjoy,” I said cheerfully. “Remember my name now, Perla Cuevas - in case you should want more,” I shouted through the hub-bub and the music from Gus’s band. Why did I say that? What would this man think of me? I looked at him and saw him staring at me, his brown eyes dilated like those of a startled animal. As he took a bite of an egg roll, beaming with pleasure, he leaned against the side of my booth and before I could warn him, the plywood and cardboard hut came crashing to the ground. All the food and drinks from my booth fell in a heap on the floor.
“Oh, pardon, madame. So sorry, mon dieu! How stupid of me…..” Contrite words tumbled out of him but they didn’t placate me. I felt violated, demeaned. I was ready to stomp out of the place fuming like an offended prima donna when I saw him hike up his pants and go on his knees. With his bare hands he greedily collected the scraps of my native country’s culinary pride, shoving it into his mouth. It was all I could do to stop him from making a fool of himself.
The band stopped playing; the ruckus subsided into a conspiratorial drone as the merrymakers stopped to gawk at the mess before me.
“What happened, Perla?” Gus was at my side, with a bemused look on his face. He saw the man on his knees and erupted in laughter. “Pierre, my golly, what are you doing? Don’t worry about that,” he said earnestly. “That’s nothing. I’ll call the janitor to clean it up.”
“Nothing?” I protested, giving Gus a fierce look. “A whole day’s work and it’s nothing? You’ll let that guy get away with it?” I was furious. Pierre rose, shaking off bits of food from his beige corduroy trousers, his face red with embarrassment.
“I am sorry, très désolé, madame. I didn’t know that thing was so light,” he said gesturing with his chin at my collapsed booth.
Gus said: “By the way, Pierre, have you met my wife, Perla? Honey, this is Pierre, a friend of mine.”
I shrugged and busied myself with cleaning up the mess. Gus left to return to his band but I caught sight of him looking at a blonde, plump girl munching a chicken leg at the Nigerian booth. She turned and smiled at Gus, her lips yellow with the saffron and turmeric from the chicken.
On our first date, Pierre and I went to the Brass Rail across from Columbia University. He placed his arm lightly around my waist as we followed the waiter to a corner  table. The place was dark. On each table, small candles flickered in squat, thick red glasses. Instinctively I grasped the one on our table to warm my hands even though it was a warm late spring day.
We ordered beer and drank a toast to each other. Pierre rose and sat beside me. When he placed his hand on my thigh, I looked around to see if there was someone I knew or who knew me. But no one was even looking in our direction. I took Pierre’s hand and sidled up to him, brushing my breast against his side. I felt self-assured, sophisticated. We held hands coming out of the restaurant. At the subway station, a train waited but we didn’t board. We waited until the train departed and then we were alone on the platform. Pierre leaned me against the tile wall whose coolness seeped through my clothes. He pressed his body against mine. His mouth was like a suction pump on my lips. Two shafts of light pierced the tunnel’s darkness. We boarded the IRT local, taking a corner seat. We sat embracing, legs tightly closed at the thighs.
For three months our passion held sway. In the subway, in the apartment lobby, in the laundry room, we kissed and necked shamelessly.
“You are not afraid?” he asked me.
“No.” Yet, my father would have blood on his hand if he saw me like this.
Summer. For three weeks, I didn’t see Pierre. I went several times to his apartment, but no one answered the door. My notes filled his mailbox in the lobby. I asked Bill, our super, if he knew where Pierre was. Bill smiled at me mockingly and shrugged. He liked my husband, who had bribed him with a month’s rent to get him our apartment. Desperate, I asked Gus, himself, if he had seen Pierre lately.
“Search me,” he said, not looking up from behind the pages of the Wall Street Journal. I considered telling him I missed Pierre so he would get suspicious, jealous, and we would have a fight. Gus would proclaim his fidelity and I’d feel better. But I did not think that would provoke him. Maybe as a commodity, my virtue had tumbled in value to zilch, as far as he was concerned.
“Who’s Caroline?” I asked, not looking up from filing my toenail.
He dropped the newspaper. “What’s gotten to you? You out of your mind?” After a pause he laughed and came over to embrace me. “Come on, honey, this is America. You got to be broad-minded.” I shooed him off, jabbing his middle with my nail file.
Monday night, after three unbearable weekends, Pierre called me at home just as Butch and I were getting ready for dinner. Gus was still at Fordham, where he had started on a teaching assistantship.
Allô, Madame Cuevas.” I recognized his voice instantly. My heart twirled like a windmill. “This is Pierre and I’m calling overseas, from Bali.” He had gone on vacation, he said. Didn’t tell me, afraid I would go into a jealous rage and he’d come back to a sulking lover.
“I’m coming back tomorrow. Could you spend the following day with me? Ça va?” I clasped the receiver long after I replaced it, feeling the burning rush of love rise to my cheeks. I staggered into the kitchen and bumped into my son who could not wait for me to serve him. While I was on the phone, he had dug a fork into the wok of pancit noodles and burned his tongue. He spat it all out on the sink. I rushed to him with a glass of ice-water and stroked his head as he gulped it down. His tongue was sore for several days.
After dinner I opened the bottom drawer of my bureau and took out the new black lace and panties I would wear under my halter and shorts when I meet Pierre in two days. I had bought the new underwear at a sale the first week Pierre was gone because I was feeling very depressed.
It was a sweltering day in August. The New York heat made me feel I was back in Manila, where I had gone to college. In that steamy metropolis people didn’t use a thermometer to tell the temperature outside. We knew it was hot when dogs, panting, glassy-eyed, foaming at the mouth, took to the shady sides of the streets, their tongues hanging out. People stayed off the streets not so much because of these rabid animals, but because of people crazed from the heat, who were likely to run amok and inflict more damage than the demented dogs.
Pierre’s apartment was air-conditioned so we stayed all day in his bed, our bodies warm and moist. I liked his room. It was clean, spare, uncluttered, a masculine room, marred only by our clothes strewn on the carpeted floor at the foot of the bed. I wore the sarong Pierre had brought back from Indonesia as a present for me, a piece of cotton cloth with flower and bird prints in orange and crimson. I reached out for the box of tissue on the night table and saw a couple of light-brown hairpins (mine were black), and twirled them before his face.
“Whose are these? “ I asked him. This coarse, vulgar jealousy surprised and embarrassed me so I flicked the hairpins back on the table. I did not want to make a scene.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he grunted, then turned toward me to see if I was surly or mad with jealousy; to see if two little hairpins would unleash any green demons in my breast, so he could  mock me, a married woman in another man’s bed. On impulse, he made love to me again. My lust renewed, I returned his thrusts. Recklessly. I wanted this love to run its course, so we could go on with our lives. Pierre would graduate and go to his Southeast Asian Eden. Gus and I would embark on a new hectic, domestic life in New Jersey. The closing on the house was in two weeks. In the suburb, maybe I’d be seduced by the mailman or a UPS truck driver. Caroline and Gus would meet at Ramada Inn or Howard Johnson off the Turnpike. We would continue with our secret games, with nothing, not even each other, to fear. No machete cleaving the air in vengeful, heedless wrath.
My thoughts were on the wallpaper I’d choose for Butch’s room in our new house when the doorbell rang. “Merde,” Pierre grumbled, reluctantly sliding off the bed. He headed for the door. I could hear a voice outside. It was our super
“Bill, here, got suhmin fo’ you. Open da door.”
When Pierre returned to me, I was sitting up in bed. His eyes swept the floor for his clothes which were tangled with mine. He plucked the sarong from the heap and waved it like a magician’s scarf. He tucked it around his waist and went to the door.
Footsteps died down in the hallway. The elevator groaned, its door banged closed. I wanted for Pierre to come back to me but he tarried. He was talking to someone. I recognize the voice - this time it was Gus’s.
“She’s here, I know, my wife, she’s in there. Let me in, you of son of a bitch, or I’ll stick this into your guts.” My husband’s voice shattered my own guts. I jumped out of bed, swathed myself with the sweaty bed sheet. I climbed out the window to the fire escape. At the landing, I crouched, waiting, my ears wired to Pierre’s room. I look around and saw people hurrying by, without discovering me, naked underneath my cloak of bed sheet. I then slowly climbed back up and made for Pierre’s room to retrieve my clothes.
Just as I poked my head into his window, someone outside, below, shouted, “Look out! Get out everybody! He’s going to kill us!” I froze in place. I saw people dashing out of the apartment building as if it was on fire. I went back down to the ground and ran toward the building’s main entrance, nearly getting crushed in the rampage.
People darted here and there, panicky. Doors swung open, slammed shut. I went up the stairs. On the second floor landing I caught a glimpse of Pierre in my sarong. He blazed past me, toward the exit. I hid myself behind the door and peeked out. That was when I saw Gus in the lobby, his eyes flashing wild through a curtain of disheveled hair, a bloody kitchen knife in hand. He had caught up with Pierre who was crouching in a corner under the row of mailboxes. Pierre was holding up his arms to protect himself from the quick, insistent thrusts of Gus’ knife.
I bit into the bed sheet to muffle my screams, remembering Pierre’s words: “The important thing is not to panic, not to attract attention…”
Police cars whined and braked to a halt outside the apartment building. I thought of Butch, my son. Fighting off panic, I went down to see if I could make a dash to our room. In the lobby, light from police cars’ flashers blinded me. I sought refuge in a corner but could feel the warm crimson light of the flashers upon my naked back.
Pierre’s knife wounds were copious, but doctors said he would live. He would require a long period of rehabilitation to regain sensation in his arm, hands, face. And he would have hideous scars all over his body.
Passion is brief, its perils lasting.
I am mounting a defense for my husband, who is charged with attempted murder. I have retained Dr. Amado Solano, a psychiatrist from the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital in upstate New York, as an expert witness. Gray-haired, bespectacled, he is an authority on running amok, a phenomenon common among men from the mountainous part of our country.
Like me, Dr. Solano is a Filipino. Like me he is a pilgrim in this foreign land. I am in his office for the first interview. Dr. Solano leaves his huge desk with a pen and notepad and bids me to sit with him on a pink couch across the room. I feel an urge to fling myself on him and weep. He would  understand, he is a compatriot.
But he moves away from me and starts scribbling on his notepad. He peers up from under his glasses to look at me, and begins the interview.  “Let’s begin from the beginning: tell me about your father.”


Bio:  Erlinda Villamor Kravetz  graduated from St. Theresa’s College, Manila with a BA in Journalism, magna cum laude.  She worked for the Manila Times and took masters degree courses in anthropology and sociology at Ateneo de Manila.
    She came to the US in 1969 and worked at the United Nations Secretariat. In 1971 she received a fellowship grant from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and earned an MA in English Literature from NYU.
     After completing her MA in Journalism she went on to work for United Press International, the Associated Press, the Herald-Tribune in Hilo, Hawaii, the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey; she also freelanced for the New York Times’ metro section.
     She earned a Teacher’s Certificate in Teaching, with honors,  from Alliance Francaise in Paris.
     Ms. Kravetz started writing fiction in the late 80’s, attending writers’ workshops at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, Mass. Some of her stories have appeared in small literary magazines and anthologies.  She is recipient of a fellowship award from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts and has won prizes from the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature and the Writers Digest Annual Fiction Competition.
     She lives in Middletown, NJ, where she periodically teaches creative writing at Brookdale Community College and continues to lead writers’ workshops.
    Krystal Hut: Stories is her first published book. It is available in paperback and e-book from, Barnes & Noble, Baker & Taylor, and other online book retailers.
All for now and have a great weekend!


No comments: