CRUCIBLE: Whisper of the Guns

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 7 April) – Guns laid bare. No words. No conversation. Nothing.

It was the first-time guns failed to hear the noise, the bragging, the laughing of their fellows. Instead, they were on display while banded together, tightly tied in their barrels while completely muzzled by their mouths.

They were showcased according to their places of origin with their respected tag names; there were 19 of them. They heard that the master with big boots was coming. He wanted to see them.

Each gun was flabbergasted. It was unlike many years ago.

They’d the master’s love. They were happy and gay. They felt secured, handsome and majestic with their sophisticated looks. They were frequently cleansed. Wiped. Oiled. And cleansed again.

In their homes, Garand used to sleep under the bed of its master. M14 and its ilk were just standing everywhere in the house’s wall. M16 used to man the door; Bazooka, proudly sat at its master’s camp, and 50 Caliber was mounted in the veranda. Rifle Grenade, with its brothers, lay inside a wooden box near the house’s cabinet.

And they were always full back then; their stomachs always had their favorite foods. Some of them even had their stomach called “long play” where two clips of Armalite are conjoined, while attached to a “double body.”

Those were the days – unlike today. Their status had never been the same since they were transferred to that place they were partly unaware, yet partly familiar. Some of them remembered that they were once there. They could even recognize some old faces around.

What puzzled them was that the last ones who used to own them, to hold them, and to carry them by their shoulders looked pensive too. They were in state of “tahammul” – dumbfounded.

The guns and their masters could only take a gloomy stare with each other without saying a word, as if they’d swallowed a “bilu-uk” – a young coconut fruit that blocks one’s throat.

They were just separated in few distance, but their masters could not even find a word – let alone take a step to hold them and say goodbye for the last time.

“This silence is deafening,” M14 thought. “Uhmmm,” it mumbled quietly while trying to open a conversation with Garand at its side.

Just few days ago, there was a wedding in Kan-awn. M14 together with M16, Garand, and AK47 were invited; they were served with Tausug delicacies of all kinds. They’d a lived conversation.

M14 remembered how M16 bragged about himself.

As he sipped his coffee, M16 said: “I like to eat ‘durul.’ It is a delicious black cake available in every ‘pagtiya-unan’ or wedding ceremony.”

“It must also be the favorite of M79,” M16 recounted. “They both have cases – one wrapped with brown leaves; the other’s food in green, hard plastic.” “They are both similar in size,” M16 persisted, “but the one with M79 is shinier and louder when fired.”

“While the one is popular in every market,” M16 boasted, “the other comes from elsewhere.”

“Elsewhere?” Bazooka cut M16 as it gawked M79 almost telling him to respond.

M79: “I don’t know too.”

Garand: “That’s the problem with you: you bragged to the hilt without you even knowing where that green plastic thing comes from.”

M79: “Why are you insulting me?” “Do you know how I am highly prized by my master?”

Before Garand could answer M79, a sound of big boots stopped him.

Thump! Thump!

Silence dawned upon them. Their masters were still in state of “tahammul.” They were “kiyapupungan” – in immobile condition. The guns looked at each other; they’d resort to whisper.

I loved a “patulakan,” jokingly murmured Rifle Grenade.

“Pssst!” Bazooka signaled everyone to keep quite with a finger in its mouth.

Thump! Trump!

[MindaViews is opinion section of MindaNews. This series is a satire on the politics of guns in the Sulu Archipelago as undergirded by arms trade in the Philippines and elsewhere. It is interlaced with some historical and cultural issues with some linguistic ingredients among Tausug and the larger context in the politics of arms in the Philippines. The aim is to reveal the impact of proliferation of firearms in Sulu society as it forms part of the network of global arm industry. Julkipli Wadi is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines.]

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