Harvesting rice was considered fun for the ordinary Kalinga kid, but for me then, I considered it a harrowing experience because of what happened during my first exposure.
We were all geared up for the "payao" (ricefields); with wide brim hats, long sleeved-clothing and our sharp scythes. We were to harvest rice wheats in two paddies.
The practice was to start the harvest only when you were certain you would be able to finish it; it was believed that any remaining unharvested rice wheat stalks would be ruined because the diety of the fields might become angry with what was perceived as laziness.
So there we were in the ricefield, all lined up as we harvested the rich wheats- one by one, using our razor sharp scythes. It was fun at first but when the sun reached its peak, I could no longer converse with my friend as my lips became parched and dry. My hands too, were already blistered and bleeding because of the sharp rice stalks that had persistently sliced through my palms...and to top these all, leeches were all over the muddy paddies sucking the blood out of me. They were found on the leaves of the wheat and on the mucilaginous mud at my feet. God, they were so lecherous, like hedonists making love; and had only detached themselves when I had scorched their sucking appendages with a smoldering tobacco.
I thought the day would never end, but of course, just like anything else, everything came to pass. We were done alright, but not after I cried several times from fatigue and pain, with all the blisters , sunburn and wounds I had obtained. I had to hide my tears amidst my sweat as I did not want to be called "lazy" by my peers.
From that day onwards, my skin thickened, the sole of my feet keratinized and I became insensitive to the rays of the noon day sun. I slowly adapted to the way of life; from my protected city life to the harsh rural setting.
I would never forget those memorable experiences though as they had made me tougher and a better person.
Photo by purplbutrfly