He had reached the end Caloocan Philippines of the inhabited part of the village. There hadn’t been a soul around, no-one for him to meet up with. In front of Caloocan Philippines bar someone, whom he didn’t recognize, was playing cards. He walked up towards the Caloocan Philippines section, passing by the house of the young woman who had been the beauty of the village, the object of desire and dream of two generations of youngsters. She had never married, remaining with her elderly father. Now she was sixty years old and, Caloocan Philippines said to himself, had still a fresh complexion, was still quite a looker.
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The gate of the cemetery was open. Up to the end of September, for the migrants who returned and because of the heat, the hours during which entrance was permitted had been increased from five o’clock in the afternoon to eleven o’clock at night. Despite the disorganized order of the graves there was, this time, an air of cleanliness and care. The tomb of Franco’s parents, of his paternal grandparents, to which the remains of some distant relative had also been added, was lit by a small electric lamp that had on its sides two pots with carnations of different colours. As if to test his memory, he read the dates of the birth and death of his father and mother. He thought of lives made of hard work, of countryside fields, of daily trips, of feasts that had their own predetermined rhythm and meaning. Of feelings and bonds that weren’t always made explicit. That remained hidden.
One time he had decided to return with his brother at the end of the summer, and his father had waited with the hope that they would still find figs on the trees. Near the house he had a small plot of land where he kept chickens and a pig, grew vegetables and tended to some trees that bore fruit. One of the trees produced beautiful dark figs, egg-plant like, quite long, of the type that lasted all summer. Compare Annunziato didn’t pick even a single one. He didn’t open the low, wide basket where he kept the figs he had split with his knife so that he could dry them in the sun. He went there early in the morning to create some shadow for them with a wooden board or some sack cloth. He would count them and in the evening he would go to bed late to make sure that passers-by or some group of young men didn’t touch them.
He gladly offered figs and other fruit to everyone but that year he hoped to be able to have his children still find some directly on the branches. He was very happy when he saw his children under one of the trees, eating as they hadn’t done for years. They all drank from the same jug, as they had done many years before, cleaning their mouths on the sleeves of their shirts, smiling as they thought of the comments they would have raised among those of their co-villagers in Toronto who had become more “civilized,” more domesticated.