Two Non-Fictions
Robert Dollesin

Underneath the Lamplight

That night I am riding in a jeepney with my mother, returning to the base from the Grandfather's house. When the jeepney stalls in a snarl of traffic, I glance out the window. There are two women underneath a flickering streetlamp. They are jabbing their hands into the glow of light, wrapping their fingers around something, and then quickly stuffing that same something into green-tinted Coca-Cola bottles.
I nudge my mother. "What are they doing?"
She follows my gaze and replies, "They are catching crickets that are drawn to the light."
"But why?"
"Anak, ko," my mother says, meaning 'My child'. "Of course it is because they are very poor."

Wet Market

Across a flyblown plywood counter a young boy stands next to a flaming barrel. The boy reaches into a deep porcelain basin and removes a tiny green frog. He carefully threads the frog through its mouth onto a wooden skewer. As the frog is slid down the skewer, its webbed feet reach for something to cling to, its rear legs kick backward like a desperate swimmer. The boy glancess at me and grins, showing me a mouth of small teeth. He wipes his hand on his frayed t-shirt and removes another frog from the basin. He repeats the skewering process. After four frogs have been impaled, the boy winks at me. And then he holds the skewer over the fire that dances above the barrel. As they blacken the frogs pop loudly. The boy skillfully spins the skewer with his fingers, setting off a scattering of black ash and red ember.
He takes the skewer off the flame and hands it over the counter to my mother.
"Anak, ko," my mother says, holding the frogs in front of my face. "Try this. It's crispy like pork skin."
I shake my head no. When she tries to force me anyway, I turn my head to heave.