Today was supposed to be a typical Thursday morning for Martha, mother to Mario and a twin.
She should have left her one-year-old twin to her mother(who was living with them), and should have sold some bangus and tilapia to her regular costumers in the market. Her son Mario should have gone to the city’s public high school.
But the rain, which has been her constant company since last night, has not yet stopped.
She did not expect this. Worse, she did not expect their house to be flooded in just a matter of hours. She was not prepared. They were one of the residents nearby the river who were immediately affected by the rain.
By the time she commanded Mario to prepare some food and pack some clothes, the river has exceeded the normal water level. She knows that, as the flood in their house is now rising quickly. They have nowhere to go; above the ground floor was a roof- no second floor, no attic.
Inside her, she is now starting to panic.
Isa. Dalawa. Tatlo. Hanggang kailan ba ako magbibilang hanggang sa malunod na kami sa baha?, (One. Two. Three. Until when will I count before we drown?) Martha asked herself.
The water is now waist-high.
“Mare! Tara na sa bahay namin, dun na muna kayo, mukhang lulubog na itong bahay niyo sa baha.” (Martha! Let’s go to our house, stay there, it looks like your house will be completely flooded).
Lina, her neighbor, appeared at their door just when she needed someone to help them. She and her husband helped Martha and the rest of her family. Martha carried with her one of the twin, the other was with her mother. Mario had with him the clothes and food he prepared earlier.
Thank God, Martha whispered to herself.
As soon as they entered Lina’s house, they went straight upstairs, stayed there and patiently waited for someone to rescue them. They held each other’s hands tightly. Martha can feel they were all praying, asking for some help. Martha saw her mother, still quiet, still calm.
For one hour, the sound of silence occupied them. A little more while, at last, they heard a sound of a helicopter. Lina’s husband immediately went to the window, and waved until the rescuers finally spotted them.
That was only the first group of rescuers. Soon, one more helicopter and three rescue boats went to their area. Of course, the media’s presence could also be felt. The children and even the parents from the neighborhood, as soon as they learned there was a television station covering their current situation, immediately went to their houses’s windows and roofs to wave and say some words.
Martha was an exception, but his son Mario, was not.
“Nay, sikat na ako, nakita ako sa TV.” (Mother, I am now famous, I was seen on television).
She just smiled back at her son.
At last, they are now safe.
On the evacuation center were other more families. They looked like a hundred sardines, packed in one small can. But at least, that gave them warmth. Martha again smiled.
The sun should have been setting by now as the dinner prepared by the city officials and representatives from the private sector are being served. After having something for their stomachs and after the very long day, they started to feel asleep. Martha’s mother broke her silence and started singing some song. For the children, it was a lullaby. For Martha, they were those words she needed to hear.
I believe above the storm the smallest prayer,
Will still be heard.
I believe that Someone in the great somewhere,
Hears every word.
With that, Martha has fallen into a deep slumber, waiting for another day to come.