The gray cat rubbed against Insi’s leg. “Meow”
Insi reached out her hand and wiggled her fingers. Bagay trotted closer to investigate. Insi stroked his head and glided her slender hand over his back. Bagay raised his tail to be sure it didn’t get missed being rubbed, too.
“Did you know that Bagay means friend in Taugu?”
“Of course…I forgot. I’m so glad you understand me.” Insi leaned back against the old barn. Her long black hair flitted in the ever constant breeze.
Bagay rolled over onto his back, as Insi rubbed his white tummy.
“You have your warm fur to keep you warm. I’m so cold. I miss Minis Island in the Philippines. I am happy to live with Babu’ Mary and Bapa’ Albert Ashton, here in Texas of America, but I am so lonely for my family.”
Insi paused her stroking as Bagay sat up quickly. They watched a dry leaf skitter by. The cat climbed on Insi’s lap and began kneading with his paws.
“It is so dry here. I miss the buahan fruit trees and the water.” Insi scratched under his chin as she gazed a little pond nearby. “I miss the dagat. In the Philippines, there is water everywhere –even under our house built on poles. I miss the dagat.”
She let her eyes follow the horizon. “It is so empty. I can see houses that are miles away. There is a herd of manga sapi that look like termites. I miss people…I miss my people.”
The tip of Bagay’s tail flicked up and down. He stared intently toward the bushes. Insi searched for whatever caught his attention. She hoped it wasn’t a rattlesnake. They had manga haas in the Philippines, but she wasn’t really afraid of them. She knew how to avoid them.
Bagay flattened his ears and lowered his head. A brown animal hopped along, nibbling the grass. They watched it for awhile until it bounded off –its long legs kicking up dust.
Insi pulled her sweater closer around her shoulders. Winter wouldn’t be so bad if only the wind would ease up once in awhile. Bagay adjusted his position on her lap. One paw stretched across her arm.
“You don’t wear shoes. Marayaw in sukud mu. I wish I didn’t have to wear shoes.” She waggled her feet and looked at her new white shoes. Babu’ Mary called them…kwan…tennis shoes. Insi only knew that they felt tight and uncomfortable. She would rather be barefoot, but in Texas, she had to wear shoes. There were sharp rocks and funny plants with flat stems and pins sticking out all over. There were also ants that bite and scorpions that sting. Insi heard a wind chime and glanced toward the house. Babu’ Mary was shaking out a rug. The wind carried the dust away.
Bagay flicked his ears and looked that direction, too, but Babu’ Mary went back into the house without putting food in his dish. He licked his paws and rubbed his ears.
“You have a nice family, Bagay. The Ashtons are very good people. They came all the way to my village to tell me about Isa. They worked many, many years to change God’s writing into Taugu. I was afraid of dying and the evil spirits, but now I am not afraid.”
“Meow” He licked his hind leg and as much of his back as he could reach.
“I worked for many seasons in the rice fields to get money to come to Texas of America, so I can learn to speak the English. It is so hard. It hurts my ears and my head to listen to this language. I can speak Taugu to Babu’ Mary, but I don’t want to make her feel I am not grateful for their home. You understand, don’t you, Bagay?”
Bagay froze mid-washing. Something was coming. Insi followed his gaze. A black dog snuffled around the corner of the barn. Bagay arched his back. With woof and jangle, the dog bounded toward them. Bagay streaked up the side of the old wagon, and Insi giggled and squirmed beneath the wiggling, waggling puppy attack.
“Oh, Kuyag! Did you want me to talk Taugu to you, too?”
bagay – friend, Babu’—aunt, Baba’—uncle, buahan—apple-type fruit, dagat—ocean, manga sapi—cows, manga haas—poisonous snake, Marayaw in sukud mu.—You have good luck., kwan—whatever-you-call-it, Isa—Jesus, kuyag—happy
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