You read a poor Tagalog translation of handwritten prayers on your mother’s dresser. Your cousin has mistaken aswang for multo. Even you–whose native tongue died in his mouth years ago–knows the difference. Aswang is an evil spirit. A Filipino vampire. A dog. Something wicked. Your cousin has been looking to redefine herself at college. Away from the vanilla-colored hallways and powder-burned lockers of affluent homogenization, now the pale Pinay recessive genetics have a second name and second life in the stadium-seated lecture halls of state colleges. She eats rice without utensils, wants to go to Manila, asks her ate and kuya about jeepneys and sari sari stores. Her younger brother obsesses over XBox and the Nets game on TNT. You clean rice in the kitchen–rinse by hand three times. Cold water. You feel it in your knuckles. It’s snowing only enough to be nuisance.
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