I watch my grandmother
As she patiently winnows the grains
Moving the winnowing basket
Up, down; up down
Tossing its content into the air.
I see the chaffs being blown away
Leaving behind the grains.
Then, when there are no more chaffs left,
She stops, but she’s not yet done.
She spreads the grains out thinly on the flat basket
And looks for pebbles that might have
Been mixed with the grains.
She picks the pebbles and throws them away.
I stare at her hands, rough from hard labor;
Amazed at how patiently she works.
Then I begin to realize, life’s like that —
A continuous process of winnowing;
Of separating the grains from the chaffs.
Only that sometimes, we throw away
The grains; not the pebbles, not the chaffs.
[And then we spend the rest of our lives
Staring at the empty husks of our choices
Wondering where the grains went,
Chasing after them, and not seeing them
Amidst the mountains of chaffs
With which we have surrounded ourselves.]
For Lola Matda. When I was young and life was simple, every afternoon, my grandmother and I would go to the big square pavement near our house where grain buying stations dried their rice grains. Using walis tingting (broom) we would sweep the pavement and gather grains that the workers have not swept (we were more meticulous than they).
Everyday, we would get about a kilo of grains, or more. When we got home, my grandmother would winnow the rice grains. And she would patiently take away the pebbles that were mixed with the grains. Sometimes, I would help her. At other times, I would just watch her. The ratio of pebble to grain could have been 1:6. So it was really a kind of work that needed lots of patience.
I remember, after several weeks or months, my grandmother would gather a cavan of rice.
Oh, I so miss my childhood. And my grandma.
//Sherma E. Benosa
June 5, 2009; 8:10am