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  • Morning in Nagrebcan
  • My puppy. My puppy. You're a foolish puppy. Foolish, foolish, foolish.
  • It was sunrise at Nagrebcan. The fine, bluish mist, low over the tobacco fields, was lifting and thinning moment by moment. A ragged strip of mist, pulled away by the morning breeze, had caught on the clumps of bamboo along the banks of the stream that flowed to one side of the barrio.
  • Get two or three burning coals and bring them home on the rice straw,” she said. “Do not wave the straw in the wind. If you do, it will catch fire before you get home.
  • Okay mother.
  • In the early morning, the puppies lay curled up together between their mother’s paws under the ladder of the house. Four puppies were all white like the mother. Baldo stood at the threshold and rubbed his sleep-heavy eyes with his fists. He must have been about ten years old, small for his age, but compactly built, and he stood straight on his bony legs.
  • No. 
  • The boy descended the ladder, leaning heavily on the single bamboo railing that served as a banister. He sat on the lowest step of the ladder, yawning and rubbing his eyes one after the other. Bending down, he reached between his legs for the black-spotted puppy.
  • You foolish boy, remove the skin.
  • But the skin is tart. It tastes bad. 
  • I will not. It is not your banana. 
  • You are not eating it.
  • Nana Elang, the mother of Baldo, now appeared in the doorway with handful of rice straw. She called Baldo and told him to get some live coals from their neighbor.
  • She turned from the doorway into the small, untidy kitchen. When Baldo came back with the rice straw and burning coals, she told him to start a fire in the stove, while she cut the ampalaya tendrils and sliced the eggplants.
  • There is the fire, mother, Is father awake already?
  • Baldo came back to play again with his favorite black-spotted puppy. Ambo, his seven-year-old brother, awoke crying. Nana Elang called him to the kitchen. Later he came down with a ripe banana in his hand.
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