I felt the ground shake. Did you ever get that kind of feeling? Like there was an earthquake that only you could feel? I felt it during the early hours of my birthday. I was in our bedroom, typing. My wife and baby were asleep. I was the only person still awake in the house. Then, I felt it, the ground beneath me shook. But I knew it didn’t actually shake. It was only in my head. Still, it felt pretty real to me.
When I awoke later that day, my wife was already up, cradling our baby in her arms, singing to her. Eliza’s eyes were so wide and beautiful that particular morning. She smiled immediately when she saw me stir from the bed. She called out, “Dada, dada,” and extended her arms.
I stood up and nestled Eliza in my arms. She wiggled and patted my cheeks with her tiny hands.
It was around 10, yet it felt like it was still dawn. The room was dark and the air was cool.
“There might be a storm coming,” Betty said. She picked the toys up from the floor.
I nodded. I stroked Eliza’s back, and brushed her thin hair with the tip of my fingers.
I felt something terrible was coming. It wasn’t just the weather. I could sense it in my gut, although at that time I couldn’t express it in words, or even acknowledge it as an idea in my head.
We went downstairs, greeted Betty’s dad, who was reading the newspaper, and prepared ourselves for breakfast.
“Dad, the weather doesn’t look very good today,” Betty said. “Is there a typhoon coming?”
“Well, not really. But there’s a Low Pressure Area east of Samar. That might become a typhoon. It’s that time of the year again,” Betty’s father said.
“Yes,” I said. “The rainy season is here.”
Eliza was well behaved on her high chair. She listened to us and stared at our eyes and lips as we took turns speaking. Then suddenly she covered both her ears. We all laughed.
“You are so adorable, Eliza,” Betty said.
“Who taught her that?” I said.
“I didn’t,” Betty said. “Did you teach Eliza how to cover her ears like that, daddy?”
He chuckled. “No, I didn’t.”
It was shortly after lunch when my mother called. I was in the bathroom at that time, and Betty handed me the phone. I couldn’t hear clearly because of the noise outside our house. Some apartment was under construction across the street from us. In the next compound, loud music was playing from large speakers in front of the small chapel.
“What did you say, Ma?” I said. “I can’t hear you. Can you repeat that? What? I’m inside the bathroom. It’s too noisy in here. I can’t get out of the room as of the moment. Can you text me instead? No? What’s wrong?” Something didn’t feel right. I felt terribly afraid. I felt like something horribly violent was about to happen to me in the next few minutes.
And then that perfect moment — when all noise ceased simultaneously for two seconds and I was left with this tiny pocket of silence which allowed me to capture at least these words from my mother: “It’s your father. Something bad is happening. Come over right now.”