It is only after the passing of so many years and of so many of her bloodline that Assumpta could begin to understand a little of what had happened. But even then, she could not make sense of much. All that she could experience are random glimmers of sentience, somewhat like memories, somewhat like prophetic visions, somewhat like voices whispering to her from somewhere from the past or the future or an indeterminate time, but always out of reach, like a patch of sky on the pavement on a very bright and hot day, looking like water, inviting and fresh and rippling, but then dissipating into nothing when approached, and the pavement remains flat and parched and gritty as it always has been.
She wishes Guadalupe were still alive to help her figure everything out. But Assumpta no longer hopes to understand it all. At her age, she no longer remembers so many things, even things that had happened the day before. But of a certain part of her life, when she was much younger, she could remember every single detail -- when the very sky broke with ferocious wind and rain as if it were hell itself, when the hills undulated and moaned and changed shape, and the tree branches swayed in terror, and fell, and walked, and wrapped their big, trembling arms around each other, and the stalks of rice trembled on the wet ground from they grew and then fell onto the swampy paddies, defeated by the elements and the fury of the night, and brown, filthy, half-naked, malicious, demented men came up from out of those moaning, groaning hills with weapons of death, and the house of her forefathers burned to the ground.
But there is more that had happened. It wasn’t just the horrifying things. No life can ever be just about monstrosity. There had been beauty, truly, there had been. And there had been order, and good manners, and tradition, friends, the seasons of planting and harvesting, a system of life that had sustained them, and there had been trust and faith, and strong men who kept her safe, and warm beds and beautiful curtains, perfume, flowers, evenings of lights and laughter, food wonderfully concocted, and love, and the land which had been nurtured by her family and which had fed so many generations of Camarines people. Those, Assumpta also remembers. Those, she feels strongly, ferociously, and defiantly, are her birthright. And those are what she holds on to with more vehemence than her memories of the day of annihilation that left her and her youngest brother as the only remaining descendants of the powerful family Arguelles who owned and ruled much of Camarines for over two hundred years.