My maternal grandfather’s name is Sixto.
My maternal grandmother’s name is Beatriz.
Sixto was from a prominent wealthy family but he was not your average Kastila (Castilian). From what I know is that he served the army for a short period of time and his family disapproved of most of his decisions because these were not problems they have to face especially in their social standing.
His family wanted him to be the promising engineer his Alma mater predicted.
But life had other plans for him.
One of the young maids fell ill before one of the social parties that my great grandparents used to throw. The young maid’s parents went down to the barrio nearby and asked their friends if they know anyone would be willing to work that night. People were not willing to go because many are farmers and they had to tend to their crops and animals early in the morning. But one of the young girls, a feisty redhead, volunteered. She asked if she can take food home (mostly desserts) and the promise of that, along with good pay, was enough to convince her parents.
As soon as she got to the hacienda, she was given instructions on what to do and not to do.
‘Don’t make eye contact.’
‘Keep your head down.’
‘Beatriz, do not spill anything, or I will spill you.’
As dusk fell, the guests arrived one by one. The hacienda was a beauty to behold and the horses were displayed for the guests to appreciate – maybe even purchase.
Beatriz’s hair gathered a lot of attention and jealous stares but she kept her head down and did her work. Sixto always felt out of place at the parties but he kept his parents happy. His friends spotted her first and asked Sixto when they hired such a looker – pity that she was the help they say, some thought it was actually quite an opportunity. As soon as he laid eyes on her, Beatriz looked towards his direction and they stared at each other for only a moment and she quickly kept her head down as she was instructed. His brain started processing quickly – he told his friends that is his mother’s favourite new help. She’ll have them hung upside down from the highest mango tree if she disappears. Everyone laughed and forgot about Beatriz.
But his mother did notice her and didn’t like the stares that followed and she asked the head housemaid to make her stay in the kitchen which she happily complied. They asked her to peel the potatoes and wash the cutlery.
The kitchen was busy and people were coming and going. She heard someone pick something up or move something not far from her but she continued working – she didn’t want to lose a good pay.
‘What’s your name?’
‘When did you start working here?’
‘Just for tonight, helping out a friend.’
This was probably the 50th person that asked her today but the person sounded different from the usual slang that she was used to. She turned to look at the person and it was Sixto.
‘My name is Sixto.’
Betty was worried. She was going to lose her job by talking to one of the guests.
‘Uh, senor, the party is outside, please senor, the floor is wet and it smells in here.’
‘I’m quite alright. Can I talk to you?’
‘No, senor, I will lose my job.’
‘Can I talk to you tomorrow?’
‘I don’t -‘
‘Bueno, I will find you. I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable, senorita Betty.’ He nodded and took his leave.
Betty watched Sixto leave the kitchen while she mindlessly scrubbed the plates.
‘Huy, why were you talking to senorito Sixto?’ asks one of the younger maids
‘He kinda looks like Elvis, doesn’t he?’ another chimed in.
‘He probably likes your red hair!’ a third exclaims, pulling her hair from her scarf.
‘Did you dye it?’ another asks, now a group gathering around her.
Betty continued scrubbing the plates, not saying anything. All she could hear is the deafening beating of her heart.
Weeks passed. Betty thought of Sixto but he did not show and she knew it was too good to be true. Some of her friends thought he was leading her on which was not proper good manners but what did she expect? She’s just a farmer’s daughter.
One morning, as she was coming back home from errands, she spotted a well dressed man on a horse – it was Sixto. He spotted her and rode towards her direction. At this point, she actually wanted to hide from him because she was dressed so casually.
‘Buenos dias, senorita Betty,’ he says as he gets off his horse
‘Buenos dias, senor Solomon.’
‘Please call me Sixto, senorita.’
‘Do you need help in the hacienda again, senor Sixto?’
‘I – I did not come here for that, I came here for you.’
‘I do not – think this is allowed.’
‘What is not allowed? We are just two people talking – will you at least let me walk you to your home, senorita Betty?’
From what I know, when my grandfather told his parents about wanting to marry my grandmother, they thought he finally went insane or that my grandmother used witchcraft (that’s another story). They warned him that if he left, he will have no inheritance and they will disown him.
He left that very same night.
One of my favourite memory of them was when we were in the probinsya (province) and there was a full moon. I was the only one awake and I remember thinking there is going to be a ghost visiting me if I stayed awake like this. Then I heard a low guitar strum from just outside the window. Being a kid, I was curious and as I peeked outside my window, I see my grandfather serenading my grandmother. He sang Moon River.
It was the first time I heard the song and the first time I heard my grandfather sing – I couldn’t believe he had such a beautiful voice.
This is my first impression of romance.