March 23, 2023

HAVE YOU EVER heard of this Expression (EXPR) used by Ibalois?
IN ENGLISH IT can be rendered simply as: “What [and/or Why] is this thing happening/obtaining/coming/recurring/etc.?”
IN THE PLURAL form, English will use: “What[and/or why] are these (things) happening?” And the Equivalent Nabaloi form shall be: Nganto ma ali eran jay?
FOR SHARING, REFLECTION and Analyses, let’s explore the When?s; and Why the Ibalois specifically use this EXPR – over others that could be had by them on-spot. First is:
WHEN SOMETHING – OR things are happening to the Speaker and he has no available (self-) explanation, knowledge, experience, etc., why? For example,
WHEN HIS HOUSE is shaking – vehemently.. five or more seconds, he’s held in fright – and he exclaims: Nganto ma alin jay? A bit after
HE HEARS SOME voices outside, and he goes out of his dwelling, and he gets:
“EARTHQUAKE! WE SAW your house shaking.. so we came pronto! Are you okay? Where’s the misus.. and the househelp?” (Neighbours.. he realized.. and he responded appearing composed):
‘AH YES! I was scared a mite for some seconds.. you see I’m reading this old novel by our revered Gatpuno Dr. Jose P. Rizal. This title they say means “Touch me not”, right – but it’s in old Latin: Noli me Tangere. Uh,
‘MY WIFE AND the househelp: they went to the market, in town.. this early yet.. to buy us some kitchen necessities. Thanks folks, for your immediate concern. Much obliged, po? The second instance of specific use is:
WHEN THE SPEAKERS ‘nightmares’ – worst or lesser, re-appear and he is jolted. A situation-example:
BOUY ANO NANG and his wife – Mala Damsa, have been married for nigh six years. Like many or most marriages, theirs was not that pe:fect.. ‘ups-and-downs’: there were a-plenty of them. But, one day:
BOUY SAW – WITH his own two eyes: his beloved.. ‘smiling sweetly’ with someone who came near their house and now handing his wife’s (Mala)’s eco-bag filled with house goods she bought from the market. Later,
WHEN THEY WERE alone, Bouy mildly approached his wife to ask who was ‘that guy and why ‘the smile’ xxx?
HIS WIFE MALA immediately responded and said he was a neighbour further below the house and that he kindly ‘volunteered to help me carry up the bag here’.
BOUY SAID: “A-Ah!” sounding like the wife’s explanation sufficed to detain his murmuring feelings. But
THAT SIGHT OF his ‘Mala and that one’ never left him. In succeeding months – so suddenly in his dreams or imagination, ‘that sight’ would come.. and he always endeavoured to quell it. And then,
HE WAS CALLED to a ‘training’ – for job application, somewhere near Manila. Coming up home after months of training, he confessed: his problem worsened.. “the memories keep coming back.. xxx Ara! Nganto ma alin jay”, he finally said. As a very close relative, I consoled him with:
“THE VERY FIRST thing now you can do is: go find out the truth.. that one truth should set you free! It’s always real and effective.. when rightly done, as you know.” Our third and last instance of specific use today is:
WHEN OVER WHAT is needed, something comes; or, is done, like: an ‘above-par’ returned Favour: or, an ‘extra’ over the gross amount; or, an assistance rendered beyond duty; or, an overpayment; et cetera.
IF YOU ARE the ‘Patient’, recipient, or beneficiary, you can’t help but stop to wonder: “Why?” “How can this be?” “Why are these things happening?” And so on. Among the Ibalois, they just sum this up with:
NGANTO MA ALIN jay? (“What [and/or] Why is this?”). They themselves (or their listeners) then start guessing.. or finding(!) the answers, to wit:
“MAYBE, BY MISTAKE?” opines one. “Or, really done to lighten these hard times?” joins another. “Or, is it for an ‘intended’ purpose – to soothe, cajole, or butter up?” says the D’s advocate. But the Guardian Level-up stuns them all with: “It must be a gift – regalo emmo! Why don’t we just say that?” Ay-yuh!