19 mins
Altar
A 68 year old widowed man, Gopal works as a security guard to barely make ends meet. Like every other elderly Singaporean, Gopal has the habit of playing lottery (TOTO). Being pious in nature, praying is a daily routine for him. Living alone in an old HDB apartment, the deity in his altar is his only companion to share his thoughts and problems with. Soon after discovering that he has been diagnosed with terminal illness (Lung Cancer), Gopal becomes overwhelmed with financial burden. He receives multiple calls from his doctors for appointments. Gopal turns to his son, Naveen for help. But before he could share the devastating news, Naveen tells Gopal about his retrenchment and debts. Gopal spends the passing months in pain and agony due to his illness. Despite this, he continues work and carries on with his normal routine. He rants time and time to the deity about his unfortunate situation and being unlucky striking 4D. One fine day, to his surprise, Gopal strikes the lottery. He becomes overly joyed and relieved. The very next moment, he receives a phone call from Naveen. Naveen tells him that he is in dire need of some cash as the debt collectors have arrived at his door stop and are threatening to harm him and his family. Hearing this, Gopal is saddened and without a second thought tells him that he will settle his debts. Gopal goes to the altar. This time, he isn’t ranting. The fire in the lamp goes off.
15 mins
Shaman's Life
Tessie is doing a healing ritual with a patient early in the morning. She rubs ginger on his forehead as she mutters prayers then she gets some incense and lights it up proceeding to what she usually does as a Maaram. After the ritual, while Tessie and her patient are having a conversation her phone rings, it’s her daughter Angel calling. She answers the call while the patient slips her money and thanks her. Tessie looks at the money hesitatingly but takes it anyway and puts it in her pocket. As the call goes on Tessie starts to feel dizzy and abruptly says goodbye to her daughter. When the phone call ends Tessie’s vision blurs, and she faints. Tessie opens her eyes and rubs her head seemingly feeling groggy. Two of her neighbors come into her bedroom voicing out their concern for her health revealing she has fainted several times in a course of a week. She brushes them off saying that it is due to old age and nothing more. The neighbors are unconvinced and remind her that where else would they go if she was gone. Tessie resumes with her usual routine, and she visits a run-down “bahay kubo” to heal the farmer’s sick wife. After the healing ritual Tessie advises the farmer that he slaughter a chicken and offer it to the elementals that his wife has angered for her to be forgiven and her illness fully healed. The farmer thanks her for the advice and gives her money. She takes the money and bids farewell to the farmer saying to call her if his wife’s condition has changed. Tessie proceeds to walk to the house where Angel is currently working as a maid to give her the money she asked. Tessie reaches the gate and pulls out her phone texting her daughter that she’s outside. Seconds later Angel emerges out the door and walks towards the closed gate where she immediately notices her mother’s agitation and becomes concerned about her. She offers to accompany her to the doctor, but Tessie is adamant that she’s fine. Tessie says goodbye reassuring her daughter that it was just a long day for her and leaves. Tessie walks home on a poorly lit road when she feels someone, or something is following her, so she stops and looks around but sees no one. She continues walking but she stops again and massages her temples as she feels a little bit of dizziness. She continues walking albeit slowly then she looks up and sees something. She walks to the direction of a balete tree seemingly in a daze. She stops when she reaches the tree and there, she converses with someone who is seemingly only visible to her. It is revealed as she was having this “conversation” that as a Maaram, Tessie cannot get attached to material things, but she did, thus breaking the ethics of being a healer. After saying all her thoughts and pent-up frustration everything turns black as she faints. ime has passed and Angel has brought Tessie into a hospital to get a check-up. They wait patiently in the hospital corridor as Angel fans her mother. Tessie is unsure and wants to go home when the nurse suddenly calls her name signaling that it was her turn. Angel abruptly gets up dropping her handkerchief unknowingly, so Tessie picks it up and as she does so, she sees in the corner of her eye a sudden flicker of light. Tessie looks around in surprise, but her daughter takes her hand and leads her into the doctor’s office. It’s night and Tessie is on a phone call with the doctor, judging from her relieved expression it seems that nothing is wrong with her. As the call ends, she hears rustling noises outside, so she peeks out the window then a knock is heard on her door. She cautiously opens the door and sees a stone, a “trabungko”, she picks it up and stares at it dumbfounded. Time has now again passed, and Tessie goes back to her daily routine doing her usual healing ritual.
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