My Father's Tragedy

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Topics: Meat, Chicken, Rice, Family
It was one of those lean years of our lives. Our rice field was destroyed by locusts that came from the neighboring towns. When the locusts were gone, we planted string beans but a fire burned the whole plantation. My brothers went away because they got tired working for nothing. Mother and my sisters went from house to house, asking for something to do, but every family was plagued with some kind of disaster. The children walked in the streets looking for the fruit that fell to the ground from the acacia tree. The men hung on the fence around the market and watched the meat dealers hungrily. We were all suffering from lack of proper food.
But the professional gamblers had money. They sat in the fish house at the station and gave their orders aloud. The loafers and other bystanders watched them eat boiled rice and fried fish with silver spoons. They never used forks because the prongs stuck between their teeth. They always cut their lips and tongues with the knives, so they never asked for them If the waiter was new and he put the knives on the table, they looked at each other furtively and slipped them into their pockets. They washed their hands in one big wooden bowl of water and wiped their mouths with the leaves of the arbour trees that fell on the ground.
The rainy season was approaching. There were rumors of famine. The grass did not grow and our carabao became thin. Father's fighting cock, Burick, was practically the only healthy thing in our household. Its father, Kanaway, had won a house for us some three years before, and Father had commanded me to give it the choicest rice. He took the soft-boiled eggs from the plate of my sister Marcela, who was sick with meningitis that year. He was preparing Burick for something big, but the great catastrophe came to our town. The peasants and most of the rich men spent their money on food. They had stopped going to the cockpit for fear of temptation; if they went atall, they just sat in the gallery and shouted at

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