Defying the Sweet Call of Death
A sincere expression of gratitude to Mr Benito Rulloda for saving the author from drowning at sea.
Every one, I believe, has a personal hero in his life. Disregarding grave danger this hero unconditionally takes upon himself a risky decision to save others who are helpless in a crisis.
Dr Abe V Rotor
Wall mural painted by the author from a scenario of death calling at the bottom of the sea, as he saw it. Author's residence, San Vicente, Ilocos Sur, 2010
To really live you must almost die,
The song goes for the daring and bold;
It was night time then and I was young,
And the friendly moon was growing old.
Why should death come knocking on the door,
When peacetime is friendliest to the free?
And I, young and restless for adventure
Loafed under the stars and creaseless sea.
A line in hand waits the fish to bite
By an old Coleman's flickering light
That draws the small fish, then the prize
Catch - the biggest fish in all my life.
And it is! But neither fish nor prize
I got. I was on fire and fell overboard
Sucked by the current in the dead
Of the night and I prayed hard, Oh Lord!
And I kept swimming with all my might,
Strong in will and spirit and heart,
But time was running out, alone and weak
I saw death like a beautiful art.
I saw the sun of the night shining
Among corals and weeds and fishes;
I heard the mermaids sweetly singing,
And saw smiling, familiar faces.
Time's eternity, when all is gone.
Emptiness freedom without ceiling;
Beauty's transient and soon bygone,
When one gives in to death's calling.
A most familiar face met my eyes;
He raised my arm and we made it sure
To swim together, calm and trusting ,
To the anchored boat and to the shore.
That face was deep brown and roughly hewn,
Weathered through time by rain and sun;
An angel on earth and among the throng,
A simple man, sincere friend, unsung.
Who makes death meek, its sweet calling
Lying deep in the depth of the sea;
More than all, and biggest pearl to have,
He's the angel of humanity. ~
Based on a true story, an accident at San Fernando Bay, La Union in 1976. The hero and angel referred to is Benito Rulloda. The poem is dedicated to him for his valor and true friendship. With deepest respect and gratitude. AVR.