Creative Nonfiction by Jhoanna Lynn Cruz | Sunday, September 14th, 2008
This won 3rd prize, Essay in English, Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature 2008
“I looked at Maria and she was lovely. She was tall…and in the darkened hall the fragrance of her was like a morning when papayas are in bloom.”
On our first Valentine as a couple, he gave me a bowl of white nondescript flowers. They had a distinctly sweet but faint scent. I had never been a fan of Valentine’s Day nor of love like a red, red rose; but that day, I became a believer. He told me they were papaya blossoms from his mother’s garden. At that moment, I knew I would one day marry him. We had started dating only three months ago, but I knew I…show more content… Despite all the tragic relationships I had had with women, I still believed that it was worth fighting for the right of a woman to love another woman. What business did I have getting married to a very young man? And for all the wrong reasons. Must have been oxytocin overdose sponsored by the baby in my womb. Or a planetary alignment exerting mysterious forces on my consciousness. Or, gasp—Love!
Whatever it was, it came to pass. My mother didn’t have to bring my grandfather’s rifle. But I had to do it all on my own: filing the license, finding the Judge, buying the rings, reserving a restaurant, paying for everything. It was a good thing his parents didn’t allow us to tell anybody about the marriage – that way I didn’t have to invite anyone — which lessened my expenses. I had to understand that they had spent all their savings for his brother’s recent wedding, where they had butchered eight pigs for a traditional Igorot wedding feast. And after all, lest we forget, we were getting married against their will. But hey, there they were, on hand to sign the marriage certificate in the sala of the Honorable Judge Fernando Cabato of La Trinidad, Benguet.
The ceremony itself was quick – but peppered with omens. First, when the court clerk asked for my mother-in-law’s name, I told her “Constancia” – because I figured that was where her nickname “Connie” came from. When I asked my nervous groom, he agreed. When the Judge confirmed the information, “Constancia”