All Saint’s Day. I remember the old days of how this celebration is spent.
The day starts with meeting my close friends and traveling together to a friend’s house on another barrio. They are holding their patron saint’s fiesta (which means all houses on this place will serve food on their table inviting all their relatives and friends and neighbors to gather and celebrate).
We will see familiar faces along the road and there would be greetings and exchanging pleasantries to homes that we visit. I will have fun picking all my favorite dishes and have awkward moments conversing with people I only know by introduction or by their known faces.
In the light of late afternoon, we are bound to the town cemetery. We walk the length of the road until we come to a well-trodden dirt path past the houses. The place is a bit isolated, surrounded by empty grass fields and a cluster of mango trees. Here the dead lies and on this day, people from all over town jostle each other entering the small entrance.
We arrive and go our separate ways. I go meet my family and kin who’s usually there already. I light candles for my grandfather and, as tradition, follow our mother as we light candles to our close dead relatives scattered around the place.
There will be more familiar faces to meet, more awkward walking through and greetings, more silly glances to possible school crushes and loud conversations echoing upon the bright lights of thousand candles. The heat becomes unbearable against the white blocks of tombs but little girls and boys do not mind as they gather pieces of wax, ball them together in a swirl of colors and play with them.
As the sun goes down on the west with the dusk creeping, our family slowly gathers and we make our way out of the gate. More people are still coming in, flowers and candles in hand, their faces shadowed against the dark light. We walk the path to the paved street and I will look back at the golden haze bathing the cemetery thinking how it still looks alive under the deepening twilight.