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Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Boy Who Wanted to Swallow Santol Seeds

The Boy Who Wanted to Swallow Santol Seeds


Melchor F. Cichon

October 21, 2020


“Oh, Itsong, why did you come home only now?” inquired his father. “Isn’t it that your classes end at four in the afternoon? It’s already five thirty!”, his father added.

Before Itsong answered him, he first reached his father’s right hand to kiss it.
"God bless you, Anak."

“Tay, we passed by the house of our classmate, Ambeth,”  Itsong answered.  “They have a big santol tree in their backyard with too many ripe fruits. They are so sweet, Father. We even swallowed the seeds.”

“What! You swallowed the seeds? If these seeds will stock up in your throat, you will be gone forever!” his father warned him.

“Not really, Tay! They just slide down into my throat once I swallow them.”

“OK, go on swallowing more santol seeds! Don’t you know that santol seeds grow in the stomach? When that happens, you won’t be able to move. Santol will tear you into pieces!”

“Really, ‘Tay?”

“Yes! Now, go and change your clothes, then work on your assignments.”

“Yes, Tay.” And he proceeded to his room.

Itsong is Grade Three at Lezo Integrated School, in Lezo, Aklan, about a kilometer away from their house in Sta. Cruz, Lezo. He is the only child of Tatay Jose and Nanay Soriang. His father is a farmer and his mother, a weaver of abaca fiber. She turns these into mosquito nets. The wall of their house, which is along the highway, is made of bamboo and nipa leaves with nipa roofing and split bamboo for the flooring. It’s floor is about five feet above the ground. They use bamboo stairs to go up their house.

On school days, Itsong just walked back and forth to their school, although there were public jeepneys and tricycles in their area.  He saved the money being given to him as his fare. He deposited this in his bamboo bank on their wall for his birthday celebration. While reading his science book, Itsong  thought   of what his father just told him. But he believed that swallowing sandol’s seeds while eating it’s pulp, especially the seeds of the native big santol, is very satisfying.

So on the next day, he and his classmates again passed by the house of Ambeth and they again ate santol. Of course, Itsong again swallowed its seeds.  Unfortunately, the last seed that he swallowed stocked up at his throat. He kept on coughing, but the seed would not get out. He got nervous. Ambeth noticed the situation of Itsong. Immediately, Ambeth came to his rescue. He told Itsong to bend his neck, and in just one pound with his fist on Itsong’s nape, the seed came out. Itsong breathed deeply and thanked Ambeth for his help. But Itsong said that if Ambeth will again invite him and his classmates to pass by their house to eat santol, he would still come and eat santol and swallow its seeds.

Five minutes after that, Itsong went home. But before he left, Ambeth jokingly said that they would still eat santol the following day.

“Of course, I will!” Itsong said as he walked on his way home, “And swallow its seeds!”

When Itsong reached home, his father was standing in front of their house.

“Oh, you came home late again, Itsong. Perhaps, you again passed by the house of your friend, Ambeth.  And perhaps, they still have some more santol there.”

As usual, Itsong would first kiss his father’s hand before he would say anything to him.

“Yes, Father. Our classmates and I passed by the house of Ambeth and we again ate some santol there.  I really love to eat santol. I am just taking this opportunity because we can only eat santol once a year,” Itsong said. He remembered what happened to him earlier.

“OK. Continue eating santol and swallowing its seeds. If that seed will grow in your stomach, that’s the time when you will obey me.”

“That’s not true, Tay!”

“It’s up to you if you will not believe in me. But I have warned you. OK. Go inside now and change your clothes and then work on your assignments.”

“Thank you, Tay.” And he proceeded into his room.

After eating their supper, Itsong felt that something was moving inside his stomach. But he did not mind this. He went back to his room and went to sleep.

Usually, he would wake up at around six thirty in the morning. But this time, he woke up at five in the morning. He felt that something was moving inside his stomach. A few minutes after, he noticed that something was getting out of his right ear. He went in front of his mirror on the wall of his room to see what was coming out of his ear. And he saw that a fresh santol leaf was getting out of his ear. He wanted to call his mother, but another santol leaf was blocking his mouth so he could not say any word. He wanted to cry, but then fresh santol leaves simultaneously came out through his two eyes.  Then two other santol leaves sprouted out of his two noses. He wanted to run out of his room, but some hardy roots came out of his anus and penetrated through the floor of his room and penetrated to the ground. He was helpless, so he had to stand still as he felt his body being split out as the tree was steadily growing bigger.  He lost his consciousness.

At that time, Itsong’s mother was preparing their breakfast. And since she was through with her cooking, she went out of the kitchen to check Itsong in his room. She was shocked when she noticed that a santol tree was rapidly growing inside Itsong’s room and parts of Itsong’s body had been sliced into pieces. Her mother rapidly ran to her husband who was sleeping in the other room, and nervously informed him of what happened to Itsong. Immediately, Itsong’s father woke up and walked hurriedly at Itsong’s room and found the growing santol tree with some flesh of Itsong on its branches, hanging. By this time, the branches of the santol had penetrated through their rooftop. Itsong’s father just held his own forehead. And said, “I told him so! But he was hard headed!”


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