Short Story Spotlight is a segment which features the short story. Because sometimes, we don’t need 60,000 ++ words to tell us about the meaning of life and all that jazz.
“The Virgin” by Kerima Polotan, from Stories. (To-the-point title, I know.) Kerima Polotan is a Filipino writer of fiction–first encountered her in Lit class for her novel, The Hand of the Enemy. I found Stories in the University of the Philippines bookstore, and “The Virgin” must be my favorite of hers. It’s a story that’s included in a lot of textbooks and canon-treatises and Lit readings, up there with “Dead Stars” and “Magnificence” – and it doesn’t matter because I love it. I do. Hello, Miss Mijares.
Why do I like it? Because of the language, and the little details it illumines? Because of the “tall, big man, walking with an economy of movement, graceful and light, a man who knew his body and used it well”? Because of what a kick-ass heroine Miss Mijares is? Because of that winner scene where she steps off a stranded jeepney while the rains pouring? Because of the closing paragraph?
In her secret heart, Miss Mijares’ young dreams fluttered faintly to life, seeming monstrous in the rain, near this man – seeming monstrous but sweet and overwhelming. I must get away, she thought wildly, but he had moved and brushed against her, and where his touch had fallen, her flesh leaped, and she recalled how his hands had looked that first day, lain tenderly on the edge of her desk and about the wooden bird (that had looked like a moving, shining dove) and she turned to him; with her ruffles wet and wilted, in the dark she turned to him.
And, for some words of wisdom whose very essence will be lost in translation: Punyemas naman, di ba? Uwian na ‘to.