12 November 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 3


Beloved General,

Sir, I remain faithful that you will still grant this request to charge. My men and I are still waiting for the enemy's attack on this promontory in Batangas, but it seems they, too, have lost their strength. Every night, we keep watch over that part of Manila, Cavite, and Laguna that is engulfed in flames. We know, as the fire gets closer, your arrival also nears.

It's been almost a year since we had a decent meal. The trees have all been felled. The grass has refused to grow back. One night, after scrounging for food nearby, I was paralyzed by the glowing headland. Lieutenant Tiago and I were blinded by the white glares of my men's eyes.

We are ready any time you require our help. This responsibility still beats in our hearts. We can still wait, Sir, but please make it quick. The salt and lime from the pit we dug are almost depleted. And however deep we dig, no water ever springs.

We're still equipped with the rudiments of fighting. We hone our bolos, agility, and martial skills every morning. Sometimes we feel the need to make the hacking of chests and dismembering of arms real so that we may actually feel the bitter pain of fighting. Every time an arm or a leg gets chopped off, we delight in sharing it with everyone. Our morale gets that much-needed boost because we believe we're all doing this for the republic.

But, General, Sir, when will you come? Today is my turn to get my head shaved in order to yield hair in place of noodles. Almost everyone is shaved already. When we threw the arm bone of one of the privates, a leafy plant grew the next day. We knew it was him. On its bark was an imprint of his hand with three fingers.

We're afraid to sleep. The ground has become treacherous. There have been times when soldiers succumb to sleep only to vanish and reappear as tree stumps the following day. It would have been perfect if they only bore fruits.

There are moments when we get infuriated thinking you will never come. Hurry up, Sir—we're about to lose our minds.

Captain xxx

About the author:

Zosimo Quibilan, Jr. won the 2006 National Book Awards for Short Fiction in the Philippines for his first book called Pagluwas (In Transit) published by the University of the Philippines Press. The book is made up of 52 seemingly unrelated short short stories that make up a larger narrative. He now lives in Los Angeles.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 3, where "Hunger" ran on November 12, 2007. List other work with these same labels: fiction, flash fiction, epistolary.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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