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Journey into Disaster
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Marielou has had a wonderful weekend. She climbs out of the Motorela in a good mood, which has just turned its loop at the waiting seat in the village. A couple of little kids are trying to throw baskets on the worn basketball net and swirl up a lot of dust.
“Hello, Lou,” greet the dirty tots.
Some are her cousins. Marielou pulls her shoulder-length straight hair back, can’t help smiling at the sight of the dusty dwarfs, gives them a friendly greeting back and pauses briefly beside the sun-heated place. Apart from the little basketball players, the village is deserted and it is remarkably quiet.
Unsettling quiet, thinks Marielou in worry. Older women with laundry baskets hurry past whispering without paying any attention to her. There is a bad mood in the air. Marielou has antennas for this. Something is wrong today. It’s around twelve o’clock and the air shimmers in the midday heat. She spent the entire weekend at college events and stayed with her cousin of the same age in Sendong City. She didn’t have her cell phone with her. Perhaps someone has died or suddenly became seriously ill? She asks herself and looks around in disbelief.
She remembers some situations where the mood was similar to today: Neighborhood quarrel, quarrel between drunkards or a loud marital argument. After accidents or after a typhoon hit the village. Marielou guesses accident. Maybe something happened while fishing or a motorcycle accident? Asking the kids it will probably not lead to anything, she decides and hurries home.
The attractive 18-year-old Marielou is attending the first semester of Sendong City College. She is the younger of two daughters of the married couple Wilfredo and Janeth. This family also belongs to the Taslig clan. Wilfredo is the younger brother of Romolo Taslig, Aboy’s father, and Marie-Ann, who is Vicente’s mother. Vicente is Phil’s mother.
Marielou reaches, breathless from a fast walk through the labyrinth of houses and huts, the strip of land in front of the black sand beach. Here are the fishers’ simple huts located, under tall coconut trees. Her parents’ small fishing boat is jacked up on two wooden frames. Her father repairs the wooden hull. It smells like epoxy resin and oil paint. Mother Janeth sits in the sand with her legs apart and mends the fishing net with nylon thread and a large wooden needle.
“Mom, Dad!” Marielou bursts into the situation, “has something bad happened?”
Janeth immediately jumps up and hugs Marielou fiercely: “You don’t know it yet, Lou? Something happened to Tommy!”
“No, what?” Marielou interrupts her mother impatiently. They are facing each other.
Wilfredo looks up and puts his tools aside and shakes his head: “Tommy was arrested in Tugalm City. There was a report on the news this morning. Didn’t you see that?”
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Poor but carefree!