During these lean months when everything’s just icky wet and typhoons are always a threat, there’s this one generous tree that keeps me and my family alive. Nay, it isn’t a tree of gold, a money tree, nor one that offers luxurious beauty like those classic stunners that fill up the yards of rich landowners like mahogany, narra, and ficus. It isn’t even the tropical ensemble that normally populates travel brochures and similar tourist advertisements like the beauteous mango tree that grows that delicious fruit, revered and sought-after the whole world over. No, our tree is the humble malunggay (Moringa oleifera or drumstick tree).
Here I was again, needing to cook dinner for the family. I had everything prepared–the ingredients, the cooking utensils, my tummy yelling of hunger (ooops!). The petrol tank was replaced earlier today; hence, I knew that I would be able to finish cooking in no time at all. Well, for those who don’t know, here in the Philippines, a cooking stove is fueled by a petrol receptacle, called LPG or Liquefied Petroleum Gas, that’s directly connected to it via a rubber tube and a control valve. Continue reading “A Writer Cooks With Paper”
She hastily fixes her bed and takes a deep breath, steadying her mind, if not her heart, as she goes downstairs to help make breakfast. “If there’s even some food left in the fridge,” she mumbles quietly.
These past months have been horrible. Her contract with her old company ended and there wasn’t any other job waiting for her. Being the breadwinner of the family was tough but it was even harder because she couldn’t find anything that could tide them over. What with all the bills to pay–the electric bill, the water bill, the rent–and the money to buy food, mainly.
She ambles over to the kitchen and finds her mom mixing something in a bowl. “Good morning, mama,” she whispers. She opens the fridge and finds several packets of food inside–a tray of eggs, a pack of biscuits, a carton of milk, some vegetables. That startles her. She looks questioningly at her mother. “Ma, why do we have food?”
Her mother smiles, gently. “Your brother sent a bit of cash to help,” she explains, “There’s some coffee and bread here. You need to eat. You’re getting a lot thinner, Trisha,” she adds as she hands Trisha a steaming mug of coffee.
She accepts the mug and starts eating some of the bread. She cannot hide the smile that slowly brightens up her face. “Thank you, God,” she silently prays.
“At least, we have some food,” her mom tells her. “Yes, thank God. We have food,” she seconds. The heavy feeling lifts up a bit and she feels lighter than she did earlier. Surely, this situation won’t be forever. She knows that God will soon provide her with a solution. She only needs to believe that. Because, He always does.
Not replying to text messages makes one get old very fast,” reads the latest beep from you. I can’t help but chuckle; though, I decide to continue my silence.
The next minute, you flood my inbox with funny pictures of yourself and I’m laughing so hard that I nearly forget that I’m having an awful day.
You don’t know how to give up, do you? So, I find myself sending an answer. Almost.
The whole house is caught up in a whirlwind of excitement as the they await her arrival. No cobwebs on the walls; the linens are freshly washed; and the silverware’s newly polished. Even the food smells a bit more enticing. Because, she’s on her way home.
That’s the way it is.
The day feels too bleak and too heavy when she’s not around, when she’s upset, or when she’s silent. Yet, the world lights up and every dream seems possible when she’s there and she’s happy. A hearty laugh from her puts everything in order.
She’s the life of the party. She’s the center of every family.
At work, after a gruelling five hours out in the sun, I’m with a group of youngsters as we discuss our next move. You suddenly appear with an ice cold bottle of Vitamilk. You hand it over to me, shyly–apologetically; as if it’s a near-transgression to even offer me anything.
At the staff house, while I attempt to finish a report due the next day, I hear the roar of a motorbike as it parks outside the door. You enter the house with another ice cold Vitamilk for me.
It becomes a tiny part of our routine–you, me, and Vitamilk–and I never question your actions or the regular Vitamilk gifts. Because, well, people can be so kind sometimes.
But then, friends begin teasing you and me. “Isn’t it even obvious to you? He seriously likes you!” A mischievous grin appears on her face as my friend convinces me that you are more than okay.
Am I really that numb? Although, it’s another busy day and I have no time to play.
“can you please stop mentioning him?” he mutters.
“okay… i will,” she concedes.
“now, please. let’s talk about us instead,” he gently sways her.
“yes. let’s do that,” she says and tries to smile brightly at him.
“you know what? i don’t want to end this but i know you aren’t really into me. go back to him. you still love him. i’m sorry. goodbye. please be happy. i love you,” he tells her sadly.
for he knows that they can never be happy together. he loves her but she doesn’t feel the same for him.
“make a promise…” she tells him.
“what about?” he asks.
“promise me that whatever happens to us, you will be strong. if we ever fight, if i die, or if you ever lose me, assure me that you’ll be fine–that you’ll continue to live,” she enunciates.
“…sure,” he tells her, noncommitally.
“not like that. make a serious promise!” she demands.
“okay, okay. yes, i promise!” he exclaims, just to keep the peace.
a few months after that conversation, he finds it difficult to breathe. he remembers that promise; for, the girl, he loved, just died–and, he promised to live for her. so, in order to appease her, he endeavors to stay alive–even when he wants to kill himself–just to keep the peace.