I remember playing under the moonlight and under the heat of the sun with marbles or rubber bands, catching grasshoppers and climbing trees. Dogs barked and hens cackled, and in the gardens grew an abundance of fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs. Creation unfolded and we smelled her symphony of scents—the sharp, tangy, soft, gentle, oily, bitter and sweet—mingling in the tropical heat.
Such was the life on 17th Street, a narrow strip of thin asphalt where families were raised and lives began and ended. But not all was simple or idyllic. The old and quarrelsome woman Iya Vellit lived alon in her nipa hut under a mango tree, fascinated by the moon. Everyone said she was a witch until a stranger's arrival began unraveling her secret.