Pinay's Letter From Brunei


I am a teacher, wife and mother.

A woman---kissed by perfume, powder and silk,

Intimate with the washtub, pots, and bed.

Seemingly weary and bored,

I seek to go abroad.


Always the same man sits at the head of the table,

He reads the newspaper each morning.

He waits for his coffee

And smokes,

While I am restrained by the crib and books,

I apply my lipstick and let the faucet drip.

He does not stir

Even if the pots burn or the children whimper.

In the bathroom, I hand him his underwear and towel,

I comfort him when he is edgy.

He has no explanation for

Why he stays out all night,

But his forehead is furrowed

When I leave on Sunday.

He does not like galunggong and saluyot

Even though the pay envelope is flat,

He seems to still want me to perform miracles

Even if the rent money is always short.


I am a teacher, wife and mother.

A woman---weary of being a woman.

Designated by my genitalia

Assigned to the broom, the wash and lullaby

Even with a profession and salary.

Always the same daily routine---

The drudgery spread out in the length

Of the house and school

Of the kitchen and bed.


Do I have the right to sulk?

Where will I run when I am sad?

He has a beerhouse and massage parlor hangout

My partner who craves,

I wait by the window.

My body blazes with my ambitions

My tongue has a cross and is barred to speak.

My children ask for bread,

I turn up the volume of the radio.

It seems I am weary and bored,

I seek to go abroad.


It was then I dreamt I was wearing pants,

I send dollars and pasalubong.

I can now breathe freely,

My lips are without keys, my mind is open.

I confess that I am lonely

Even if now, I make my own coffee.

I wait for letters at the gate and door,

On the phone my heart is replenished.

I cried in the beginning,

It appears that everything can be cured by reading.


This is the answer,

Leave the man to wash the sheets.