The Girl and the Nail

I decided to tell more stories of my youth, ones I really loved. The following story was discovered in our high school library, in a book by Manuel and Lydia Arguilla.

***

There was a girl who was so full of life, she ran up and down the bamboo stairs. Her mother always admonished her to behave like a lady.

One day, her mother called out from inside the hut. The girl ran up the bamboo stairs, making it creak and shake with every step. “Oi,” yelled her mother,” do not run up and down the stairs like that. If you do it, that which is between your legs will fall.” Such are the ways elders talk.

“But, Inang,” asked the girl,” Why will it fall?”

“Because it is not nailed down!”

“How will it be nailed down?” was the innocent question of the girl. Her mother grew red in the face and almost choked on her nganga. “Basta, you should ask no more foolish questions; you are already a dalaga. ” She pointed to the earthen jug in the batalan. “Go out to the spring and fetch water before it is dark.”

The girl went slowly to their kitchen and got the container. She gently went down the bamboo stairs this time, afraid of something. One foot after another landed noiseless on each step, with the jug, held by one hand, perched high on her head.

She did not know it then, but a binata overheard the conversation between her and her mother. This young man followed her to the spring and said, “I know how to nail down that which lies between the legs of young women so that these do not fall down.” He led the girl to a place beyond the bushes on the bank of the spring to show her.

Later, before the sun laid down on his bed in the mountains, the bamboo stairs were creaking and noisy. “Inang, now I can go up and down the stairs as fast as I can…”

***

– from Stories Without Moral


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