The following sentences are a summary of a short story entitled “Footnote to Youth.” Dodong was having an argument with himself whether he will tell his father about his desire to marry the girl she loves named Teang. He eventually decided to tell his father when he got home. Quoting from the story, “The ground was broken up into many fresh wounds and fragrant with a sweetish earthy smell. Many slender soft worms emerged from the furrows and then burrowed again deeper into the soil. A short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodong’s foot and crawled calmly over it. Dodong go tickled and jerked his foot, flinging the worm into the air. Dodong did not bother to look where it fell, but thought of his age, seventeen, and he said to himself he was not young any more.” In this particular section of the story, worms are mentioned. In the latter part of this blog I will explain why the story and my blog is entitled such.
Carrying on with the summary, Dodong thought of himself as a fully grown and mature man at the age of seventeen. He reached home in time for supper. Once his mother left the house he finally had the nerve to inform his father about his decision. He asked his father for consent or blessing. His father did not agree with the idea at all but still respected his decision and let him marry. The story leaps into a scene where he is outside away from his wife, Teang who is currently giving birth to their first son. He was so embarrassed about that. But even though after six years they now have 7 children. Now the story narrates on Teang’s POV. Quoting again from the story, “Teang did not complain, but the bearing of children told on her. She was shapeless and thin now, even if she was young. There was interminable work to be done. Cooking. Laundering. The house. The children. She cried sometimes, wishing she had not married. She did not tell Dodong this, not wishing him to dislike her. Yet she wished she had not married. Not even Dodong, whom she loved. There has been another suitor, Lucio, older than Dodong by nine years, and that was why she had chosen Dodong. Young Dodong. Seventeen. Lucio had married another after her marriage to Dodong, but he was childless until now. She wondered if she had married Lucio, would she have borne him children. Maybe not, either. That was a better lot. But she loved Dodong…” She did not want it either. But love prevailed. One night Dodong asked and wanted answers. He said, “One of them was why life did not fulfill all of Youth’s dreams. Why it must be so. Why one was forsaken… after Love.” He had no response for he was not talking to anybody. When his first son Blas came home one night and asked him if he could marry a girl. Dodong didn’t want him to marry for he was too young just like him when he was seventeen. But just like Dodong’s father he gave permission and felt extremely sad and sorry for him.
Footnote to Youth. Why was it titled that way? Did it even have any connection to the story. Actually the title was pertaining not the the story but to the youth of the Filipinos. A footnote is usually found in papers and is used to give additional information. It is a footnote, a message or a lesson to the Filipino youth. The setting is obviously the Philippines and the name Dodong is very Filipino as well. So what is the footnote, what is the message the writer is trying to deliver to the youth. In my opinion, it is trying to show the effects or is functioning as a warning of making wrong decisions in our youth. Life is very long and that is why we have a period in time where we are young, where we can make mistakes and learn from them as well. But why didn’t Dodong let his son learn from his mistakes? His mistake of believing he was a man, his mistake of rushing manhood during his youth. He was impatient and blinded by love. He followed his heart but never used his mind. The only thing he pondered about was how to deliver the message to his father but he never thought about the future or the consequences of his actions.
A portion of the story, “He wanted to ask questions and somebody to answer him. He wanted to be wise about many things.One of them was why life did not fulfill all of Youth’s dreams. Why it must be so. Why one was forsaken… after Love. Dodong would not find the answer. Maybe the question was not to be answered. It must be so to make youth Youth. Youth must be dreamfully sweet. Dreamfully sweet. Dodong returned to the house humiliated by himself. He had wanted to know a little wisdom but was denied it.” He was expecting an answer and never got one. He believed it was really not intented to be answered. It shall not be answered so that the cycle of life that he believed in would not change. And what is the cycle of life that he believed? He thought that during “youth,” “love” must come and ruin the whole thing and break the person’s heart, then after that comes “life,” the realisations of how clueless you were and now you have to stand your ground because it was your choices. I believe thats why he did not refuse Blas so that he would commit his own mistakes and regret and learn from them but in the end his actions during his youth mirrors his adulthood just like Dodong because his son did the exact same thing he did.
Now I titled my blog this way because a portion of the story states, “A short colorless worm marched blindly to Dodong’s foot and crawled calmly over it.” Worms don’t have eyesight. Its in their nature to just crawl and crawl no matter how much danger they’re in. They just crawl not knowing what will happen and being unaware of the results of its actions. Now its a bit of a metaphor since Dodong also blindly marched into marriage and parenthood. So don’t be a worm. We have eyes we can see and analyze. We should not rush things but carefully think things through. We all make mistakes thats part of life but mistakes can haunt you forever so its best to think before you do anything.
Read the short story here ——> Footnote to Youth by Jose Garcia Villa