Ellen is the youngest of Mang Berto’s three children. A widower for years, Mang Berto is a tyrant of a man who pushes all the members of his family around. His word is law and his rule is absolute. Rumors had it that his wife died of a broken heart. But Mang Berto couldn’t care less, he didn’t ask anybody any favor so he owed no one anything. No one understood him and he didn’t try to understand any one. He just wanted to be left alone, so left alone he had been.
Erick, Mang Berto’s eldest son is an engineer. As soon as he had the chance, Erick asked to be assigned to another province. His work prevented him from coming home to his father’s house except during holidays which he normally celebrates with his friends. Elisa is a nurse. Because of the demands of her work, she chose to rent an apartment beside the hospital she works in. She doesn’t mind coming for work during holidays.
Ellen is a public school teacher. She’s been keeping house for her father since her mother died which was more than ten years ago. She knew Erick’s transfer to another province was deliberate and so was Elisa’s moving into an apartment. They just couldn’t stand living with the tyrant that was their father. But Ellen could.
Contrary to what other people think that she doesn’t mind her father’s temper, she did. But she still chose to stay with her father because no one would. If her own brother and sister couldn’t stand living with their own father, then who could? Besides, despite everything, Ellen knew her father, and loved him for what he was.
Ellen knew her father wasn’t the kindest, nor the nicest nor the warmest man in the world. But the fact remains that he was her father and he was, after all, a good provider. He worked himself to death so that all of them, children, would have good education, something Mang Berto didn’t have. He wasn’t the smiling, the hugging and the cuddling kind of father, but he showed them an example of how an honorable man should live, by earning his keep.
He may be sharp tongued but Ellen never heard him talk without sense. They may have lived frugally but all three of them didn’t miss payment for their tuition fees nor did they experience to go to school without any money. Ellen and her siblings may not have worn the latest fashion but they were decently clothed. But most importantly, despite the poverty stricken life they lived, Mang Berto never let them go without meals.
Ellen knew that behind her father’s booming voice and austere facade, is a heart that longed for his other children. Ellen also knew that every night, Mang Berto would look at their old pictures stashed in an old wooden chest he kept under his bed and that he hugged the chest until he fell asleep.
And that’s how she found him one morning. Lying on his bed with the chest clutched in his chest. All severity gone from his face and replaced by peace with a little hint of sadness. ‘How peaceful he looked’, thought Ellen.
As Mang Berto was being laid down to rest, Ellen looked at her weeping siblings. They had been crying since they learned about the chest filled with photos and she knew they regret every single moment they deliberately spent away from their father. Moment they will never have again.
Compared to her inconsolable siblings, Ellen was calm. She knew she was supposed to cry, but she couldn’t. She just felt sad, very sad. After all, she loved her father and unlike her brother and sister, she showed it to him while he was still alive. For her there was no time wasted, no word left unspoken or deed left undone.
That night, Ellen wept. She wept for the father she would never see again..
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)