The Flowers of May
The Flowers of May is told from the perspective of Paking, one of the 14 children who tried to explain to the grief caused by the death of a child (the dead Victoria) who lived long enough to form an attachment with her parents. For the record, I am not sure if Paking is a boy or a girl, but from the scenes in the story, he could very well be a boy since the girls are “out in the rain”. Sixteen-year old Victoria, a singing flower girl for nine years, is not the only one who died in the family.
“Victoria is Father’s first real, and as it turns out, only loss. Josefine who died before her died in early infancy and Concepcion who died after her was stillborn. Victoria died and we buried her and Father has not said her name once or even spoken of her.”
Paking is describing two types of regular scenes--one is what happens in the house every May and the second is what happens in the house everyday and makes a bit of comparison between prior to Victoria’s death and thereafter. He subtly makes a comparison as well as to how his parents separately cope with her demise--his mother trying to make things appear normal and his father acting abnormally. In the end, the sight of flowers, especially lilies, brought by his sisters undid their father and make him admit his grief.
In not so many words, Arcellana clearly describes how grief affects us all. In his story, the climax is the end.
“It is as terrible as the naked terror stark in Mother’s eyes and deep as the new knowledge and first and final and only wisdom that we have just now begun to share. So this is death. So this is what means to die. And for the first time since she died and we buried her, we learn to accept the fact of Victoria’s death finally; we know at least that Victoria is dead--really and truly dead.”
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