Once upon a younger year, in a hidden barrio where the Ipil-ipil trees borders the long winding river located at the east side, happened a great event which later became a talk of the barrio, soon became a legend.
When I was just a toddler, consuming my baby food, and my mother rocking my hammock, at a comfortable abode, young children loved the summer days, even more passionate to it than their school hours. They enjoy going to the mountains, the forests, and the long river. These children are neighbors with each other.
One April morning, after taking his morning snacks, everybody could see an older kid about 9 years old, called Greg, coming up to his neighbor’s front door, doing the sign of the swim. He lifts a tanned arm just below his chin, and moves his hand and arm – imitating the flow of the river. Then, his same height, same color buddy named Simeon would raise his eyebrows thrice, ^_^ to the fashion of an excited first timer.
Greg was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Patricio, dear friends of the barrio’s captain and first lady, Simeon’s parents, Hon. And Mrs. Espares. Their parents are friends with each other, trust as their vital character. Hon. Espares’ schedule was tight: going to the municipal hall on the town in the morning, meeting with the officials of the barrio in the afternoon, and attending to his family business of copra-production. Basically, only in the evenings will Simeon have bonding time with his parents. To fill his loneliness, he spends his day with Greg. :)
When they reached a common place of the river, they saw three pairs of lovers: Celmar and Richie held hands while swimming, Dennis and Maribel raced to the other side of the boulder, Tommy and Raella lying on the sand. :-* Literally, these teenagers have this crunchy laughter when the young men bonds with the young women, their laughter echo through anyone’s ears, even under water. Everybody hears everyone.
“Come here, Simeon. Let’s swim to that deep part of the river,” the excited boy urged. :D
“Sure!” was Greg’s answer.
Both were jubilant, swimming happily like the freshwater fishes. It was a custom for teenagers in my barrio to teach curious and almost every children to swim.
Although it’s already half past ten AM, everyone was enjoying, it was agreed that lunch time is parting time. These cute kids swim with the three couples for three hours, always, almost every day. The same thing happened for two months.
Race swimming. Brawl. Acting drowned. Playing tags. Hide and seek. Same cycle, endless and never boring. The kids have been swimming in the same part of the river, since the time of our fathers. This favorite part of the river was situated just below a barren cliff, under which lies a big round boulder surrounded by water. This boulder serves as a diving platform for kids and adults alike; however, the left side of the boulder is the river on its deepest part, while the right side is the river on its shallowest part. This latter part was plain suitable for Simeon and Greg.
One rainy August afternoon, the place as windy as can be, and the sun was covered by the fast-moving gray clouds, Tommy and Raella went to the river – crossing a few, shallow, winding parts of the river to get to the boulder’s vast place. The two intended to spend some time alone, since the barrio teachers dismissed their class early. Unknown to them, they were followed by Simeon and Greg, who decided to go for a swim.
Before Tommy and Raella could reach the boulder, they started snogging. Tommy found this exciting. He unbuttoned her school uniform. Raella unbuttoned Tommy’s shirt and she loved it. She started to immerse herself in the water.
What happened before their eyes shocked the young boys. So, they laughed. Raella was disturbed and saw the disturbance behind an Ipil-ipil tree. o.O
“Foolish Greg,” Raella whispered to Tommy. :-|
“Go home, Greg!” shouted Tommy, throwing his shirt to the boulder and dived to the deep side of the river. The water’s stillness was broken. After a few seconds, both of them breast stroked to the boulder.
Delighted in seeing Tommy dive from the boulder, Greg and Simeon, already on their trunks, threw their bags aside and succumbed to the cold water. They raced round the boulder. Under the torrential rain, the four of them swam to their heart’s delight.
A farmer passed by, paused and smiled as he saw happy souls on the river, and walked to the direction of his cornfield. And the barrio hundreds of meters away, seemed sleepy. The afternoon starts to drift fast. Officials adjourned the meeting with the captain. The teenage boys are playing Patintero on the schoolyard. Teenage girls are laughing at the Youth Center. Babies are crying from some nipa-huts. Few minutes passed, the basketball began while the hidden sun glided behind the tall mountain on the west.
It was twilight when it happened.
Tommy and Raella swam from the boulder, and called Greg, who was standing in the middle of it. “Greg!!! You might as well go home with us.”
“No,” Greg replied. “We will go home later.” :-/
“We have all day tomorrow. It’s Friday today, remember?” Raella pointed out.
“But I can’t get enough today!” Greg smashed the water.
“All right. It’s up to you,” Tommy answered, squaring his shoulders.
“Let’s go home,” Raella turned to Tommy, shrugging from the cold.
“Let’s not leave them behind.,” said Tommy.
“Wait, how about Simeon?” Raella asked. Greg pointed to the other side of the rock. Tommy shrugged.
Greg swam to the other side, and found nothing. Where could Simeon be? He tensed. He swam to and fro. He called Simeon’s name. But…
The eyes of Greg widened, he started to holler, cried Simeon’s name.
“Where are you, Simeon?” Tommy shouted.
“SIMEON!” Greg shouted repeatedly around the boulder.
Suddenly, Tommy and Raella searched the deep part of the river. Greg surveyed the shallow part. They dived long and through. No sign of Simeon.
The sky grew pink and violet, while Greg started to sob.
Raella was quivering, and Tommy dived back to the deep as many times as he could.
They couldn’t understand what became of Simeon. If he was drowned he should be floating down towards the south, or..
Raella can’t think right. Greg ran, followed the cliff to the south and –
Simeon’s body, soft. Simeon’s face, half submerged in the water. Simeon’s hands both wobbly on the water’s surface. His body half afloat, lay stranded on a side of a big rock, helpless.
Greg’s knees gave away. He took Simeon’s body to the shallows. His friend, gone. He couldn’t believe it.
“Simeon, no!” Raella cried as she saw Greg’s head buried on Simeon’s chest.
The Lord has taken his pal from him.
The happy kid was gone.
The captain was melancholic. His wife cried for a month. Greg’s family was at their side, sympathizing. The barrio officials and their families were at the bereaved family’s side. The mourning affected every folk, young and old, teenagers and kids. It felt as if the barrio was also dead. It was a dull time for a month, following Simeon’s death.
Because of the loss, the economy was down; except for the farmer who earned from his cornfield. He was the one who named the river Simeon. To our generation, it was a happy place, peaceful and fun place, too. The Simeon River, where I became a good swimmer, where I grew and learned to swim.
The north part of the long River. Meters away from Simeon River.