A very serious disease came to a region caused by a species that landed on the people to feed on the dust and dirt on their skin. At first the people thought they were just flies and wouldn’t cause much harm, but in a span of hours after the landing of the species, the people got rashes and they could not see color anymore.
After a long while, the people discovered that the species flew away when they see the color white, so the people only wore white from then on.
Eventually, the species left, yet the people never forgot their existence.
In fear that the species may return and they will not see the color again, the people always wore the color white. They painted everything in their region, until it was as white as snow.
A few years later, nothing much changed. The same rules of wearing white and keeping the surroundings white were carried on.
Carina yawned and rolled over to the side of the bed, realizing too late when she fell off it. Not realizing what just happened to her, she stood up. “What day is it today?” she asked herself.
Her hair and clothes caught much dust from her fall, but what did it matter to her? She examined a ball of dust as she went out of her room.
Dragging herself down the stairs, and dusting her clothes, it came to her that it was the day. She completely forgot! It was the day of the feast food pickup. Every year the region celebrated the day the species left the region and the white look after was even cleaner than any they have seen before. This celebration was very important to the region, and it was held in 2 weeks, which was the time span it took to prepare. She ran out of the door, feeling the panic pull her through the doorway.
“I’ll be picking up the food!” Carina shouted and ran as fast as she could, her eyes darting in all directions as if longing to spot something missing in her life.
Her feet felt tired and she was breathless, and remembered she didn’t have a bag to carry all the food. She was going to the palengke. She was 11 years old and only a child. A very curious child. She was to meet her mother in the market.
The streets were wet and there were a lot of puddles. Many people were re-painting, and the chemical-like smell of paint was in the air.
The only open market this time of the year was the market in a forest-like area. Many people were there, and they made it hard to run. They were all wearing white, it was what they had to wear every day. Carina observed it was more of a stained white though, but she refused to tell anyone. She didn’t want to upset anyone.
Oh, running would have made the people angry. But she had to run. She was already half an hour late for the pick-up! Why did she stay up late last night anyway?
She made a steep turn, and the hemline of her skirt dipped into the water. It was like it was brand new, cleaner. Carina stopped and looked at it for a second. Now, what was she doing again? Oh, she was wasting time just standing there! She continued running.
She pushed herself through the crowded area. Her clothes got brushed against the leaves, which stained the hem of her dress, but she barely noticed. She continued walking to the palengke. The people gasped as Carina passed by.
What was the matter with them? Carina asked herself. Did they know she was late for the feast food pickup?
Shouting to call her mother, she entered the market.
Her mother gasped at what she saw. “Your clothes!” she exclaimed.
“My clothes? They’re the same white clothes I wear every day.”
“That’s not white, dear. That’s green!”
Carina looked her hemline and gasped. It was green! Or at least, she assumed it was green. But it was certainly a different shade, very far from white. She never got the chance to see what green looked like before, so this shocked her. So this was what green looked like. Oh, she would’ve loved to see the other colors too!
“What do I do with it?” her mother sighed.
“Wait, I think I know a way to clean it up!” Carina exclaimed.
“Really? Go along and show me.”
By now, a crowd had gathered along them and were anxious to know the little girl’s plan.
Carina dipped the hemline of her dress in the water, and waited for a while.
The crowd was getting impatient.
Carina was getting impatient to, but she was curious to know if the result would be the same as before. Maybe even better!
Finally, Carina said, “Look! It’s white again.”
Carina showed the hemline to her mother.
“It looks even whiter than before!” her mother cried out, “May I try?”
Carina nodded and took a step back.
Her mother dipped the hemline of her skirt in the water, and after a while, it looked like Carina’s dress’ hemline.
The crowd stared in awe.
“Oh, but it’s wet!” her mother observed.
“Mine has dried.” Carina smiled, “Do you think that…. we could do this for the rest of the clothes at home?”
And so the cycle began. Everyone began dipping their clothes in the water and while waiting, they wore their other dirty clothes. The clothes became clean, and when they got dirty, the people just cleaned them again.
They also stopped repainting because they knew that they could clean their clothes now.
But the unknown species returned, and some people got sick. Although it was fewer people, there was still a lot who got the rashes and their eyes lost sight of color.
“Why are there still people getting sick?” some people complained, “I thought the matter was settled.”
“I thought that cleaning our clothes would make it better!”
Carina thought long and hard. She thought under pressure, as the people were rushing her for answers. She did not want to upset them. Later on, she got the sickness as well! She couldn’t see color anymore, and her body was spotted with rashes.
Finally, she tried dipping her hand in the water, like what she did to her clothing.
It was cleaned as well! And the rashes disappeared from her body. Though it was only a few color, she could see the colors of the region again.
The people started cleaning their bodies as well. And some time later, the species left as there was no dust and dirt to feed on.
The people figured that white was not the weakness of species, their cleanliness was.
Because the people stopped repainting, the rains washed the white paint all over the region. Carina sighed happily. The colors were very beautiful. It took time, but she learned the names of these colors. Orange, purple, blue, pink…. she loved staring at them all. And she was sure the people felt the same way.
Their annual feast was then celebrated not for the whiteness of their region, but for its beautiful colors.
Elisha Lilith S. Aguinaldo
Elisha Lilith S. Aguinaldo is a coming eighth grade student in the University of the Philippines Rural High School. She writes fictional poems and stories, and some fanfiction. Email Elisha at: firstname.lastname@example.org.