Mang Pedong, the witch doctor, thought it was the diwata. He had a similar case before. A naughty kid who was taken to him because of a water-swollen penis. “Did you urinate at the foot of an old tree or on an anthill?”
Pepito looked away, as if trying to remember. He looked back to Mang Pedong and nodded. “Yes, Mang Pedong.”
“Where?” said Mang Pedong, knitting his graying eyebrows.
“Under a Talisay tree in school.” Pepito was twisting his face. The pain he had between his groin worsened.
Mang Pedong bowed to Pepito’s worried mother, Aling Pepita. She had been waiting for the recommendation of his son’s misery. He trudged to the small kitchen of his rickety hut. He went back to them with a glass of water. In front of them, he put a spell on it, while Pepito was looking at his yellowish lips and blackening teeth. “Drink this.” Mang Pedong pushed the glass to Pepito.
Pepito looked at his mother. Aling Pepita gave a look, commanding him to drink the water. Without hesitation, he took the glass but did not draw to his mouth. She nodded to signal him to go ahead. He caught a whiff of strong tobacco. He glanced up at Mang Pedong, feeling like he would throw up.
“Drink now,” Aling Pepita said firmly.
Pepito swigged it. He closed his eyes hard, as if it was a strong alcoholic drink.
“Good. It will take away the pain for a while and lessen the swell,” Mang Pedong commented. “Don’t worry if you get wet again. Just wipe it with a cloth.” He went around the table and stopped near Aling Pepita. “Meantime, you roast a native chicken as an offering to the diwata. Choose the one with red feet.” He sat down and reached for the tobacco. “Tonight.”
“You mean it’s the diwata, Mang Pedong?” asked Aling Pepita, crinkling her face like she just sipped vinegar.
He fumbled a match beside the unlit improvised lamp on the table. He gnawed the tobacco and ignited it. “She’s punished your son.”
At midnight, they headed out to the Talisay tree at the back of the school building. Aling Pepita brought a basket of hot roasted chicken. Pepito walked beside her like newly circumcised. Water flowing down his thighs, wetting his shorts.
Town folks claimed that the tree was home to elementals. There had been sightings of unusual beings around it.
Mang Pedong was ready for battle. He had tied a red bandanna around his head with an amulet set upon the forehead. He had strapped a nylon thread on his belly with three small bottles of oil dangling in his navel. The oil keeps away evil elemental. In his left hand was a lamp, blinking momentarily with the winnowing night breeze.
They were approaching the Talisay tree. It stood like a shadow of a big moth, wings spread apart over a thick post. The leaves were rustling, a chant of invitation. The sprays seemed beckoning at them. Then, the breeze whirred a creepy sound. Aling Pepita and Pepito put a stop to their treading.
Mang Pedong noticed they were already five steps behind him. “Come, follow me. Don’t be afraid,” he whispered loud enough to get to them. And so they went after him. “We are here for your son. You wouldn’t want his penis to rot either.”
Aling Pepita nodded, even if she could feel Pepito’s chilly hand shivering.
They turned up at the foot of a gigantic tree. Mang Pedong handed the lamp over to Aling Pepita. She took it and she gave the basket to him. He took out the roasted chicken wrapped in banana leaves. The palatable aroma danced in the air. He put it down between the woody roots upon the earth. And then he began a chant in the archaic Visayan tongue.
At the seventh time Mang Pedong repeated the chant, the wind howled like a lion. The branches squeaked like they might break and fall. Aling Pepita and Pepito moved backward. Pepito murmured in fear. The lamp died away, but the moon loomed from behind the thick dark clouds.
An oval-shaped portal flickered in faint white at the trunk of the tree. A stunningly butterfly-winged woman dressed in a light green silky gown struck the eye on Mang Pedong.
“We meet again, Pedong,” the diwata spoke in a pleasant voice in a language only Mang Pedong could fathom.
“Majusai, it’s been years since we last see each other.” Mang Pepito grinned.
“What brings you here?” She stepped out of the portal, touching her ivory feet by the offering.
“Aling Pepita’s son is suffering from swollen,” he paused. He thought about a word he could use not to offend this beautiful deity.
“Uhhm?” The diwata‘s inviting eyes were waiting for his response.
“You know,” was all he could say.
The diwata chuckled. “Oh, that naughty kid?” She gestured to Aling Pepita and Pepito, who both didn’t actually perceive her presence, her existence.
“We have an offering for his misconduct toward nature. He won’t urinate again under your abode or under any other trees,” Mang Pedong said in an assuring tone.
“Tell him to make sure he won’t do it again. Or else he will wake up one day without his…penis,” she said with emphasis on the last word. And she giggled.
“Yes, diwata Majusai.” He kneeled, a sign of respect. “And, thank you.”
The diwata picked up the roasted chicken. “You humans are really stubborn.” She was giggling like being tickled. Her colorful wings fluttered as she flew back inside the portal. She vanished just like her giggle faded out.
In a blink of an eye, the portal collapsed into the bark.
Pepito went to school the next day. He thought of what Mang Pedong had told him. To take a piss only in a comfort room.