Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Crossings On My Mind

May 23, 2008

    It must be the Al Pacino wet-look hairstyle or because he was a namesake of a she-celebrity. Maybe it was the low profile bearing despite the leadership he exuded. Or that he was simply extraordinary. These were but a few things about him that crossed my mind.

    I was walking one day along the school hallway. I was fifteen minutes late for a class and it was my turn to deliver an oral report. I was about to dash up through the staircase when a voice caught me. From a small distance behind me, the soft, cool voice said, “Madam, your write-up is beautiful.” It took me time before I turned around. I thought I heard the voice say, “Madam, you look beautiful.” I could not believe it. My eyes were wide open when he repeated his words, “Madam, your write-up is beautiful!” He was only referring to the article I wrote on a certain issue. All I said to him in amazement was, “Really, you read it?” He just smiled, but that lifted me up. We were quiet afterwards, realizing that we hardly acquainted with each other. That was last school year. He was the president of the student council and I was among the silent majority in the student body. His comment flattered me. A few, kind, words…

    I remember our freshmen year. He would come to an afternoon, boring class sporting his Pacino-Fonzie wet-look hairdo. He always ran in campus politics. New students would observe posters of him and wonder if his name was a male or female. He was a person of a few words and he led a quiet, school life. Many were charmed by his low-profile demeanor and many befriended him.

    Ironically, we only got to know each other after the regular four-year course. We were both involved in a post-school project. We were a committee of fifteen that met once a week. After the fourth subsequent meetings, the group dwindled to a membership of four! But, he was almost regularly present in all meetings, although he was the only one among us who lived about two hours drive away! I thought that the song group, Salt and Peppa best described him : “What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty, good man…”

    I still can recall the event of our first group meeting. We barely spoke to each other during the orientation.  After the meeting, I went home alone. I was crammed inside a local, commuter mini-bus when I saw him with a couple of his friends. They were crossing the street. As though by impulse, like he knew I was looking at him, he glanced in my direction. He smiled and waved at me. I felt like I was aboard a cruise ship that was about to sail away! His friends were not even aware of what transpired between the two of us. There was something about his charm that made me sense something different about him. Something strange, baffling, and peculiar about him crossed my mind.

    We never got closed to the extent of sharing each other’s secrets or problems. Even so, we became friends.

    My father died four months after my college graduation. I never made contact with my friends because I was depressed. Nonetheless, after finding out through a mutual friend, he attended the wake. He even stayed until midnight. He travelled from far away, and there he was, sitting beside. Uttering nothing but silence. Does silence speak of volume though? Of why he proved to be more visible than any of my other long-time friends? When some of my friends did not even dare to go see my dad in the coffin, he went so. I stared at him for a long time as he viewed my dad. He was quite long though which makes me wonder, what could he been telling my dad that he cannot even tell me nor converse with me that long? The thought crossed my mind– was I jealous?! Jealous at my dead dad at that moment?  Moreover, it was the first time he met my dad. I heard similar stories like this but friends simply dismissed this gesture as, “He is simply, like that.”

    His kindness touched my heart. A few weeks after my father passed away, he was supposed to mail to me some important pictures I needed. I waited, but there was no mail, not even a phone call from him. Then one night, on the last day of the week, at ten o’ clock in the evening, the phone rang. I thought he would say sorry for not mailing me the pictures. I was about to get mad when I realized that it was not a long-distance call. Yes, he was just in the vicinity. Lost, because he could not locate my house.

    It was a drizzling, cool night when I met him in the half-empty streets. His hair was combed wet due to the after rain. His sheepish, shy, and warm smile greeted me as his small face was halfly litted by a flickering lampost nearby. His droopy eyes is trying its best not to show me that he was tired but overall, he seems to be glad that he saw me, I think. He gave the pictures to me and talked less than five minutes. I guessed it was too short I forgot what he talked about. Or maybe,  it was the shock that he was really there at that moment which made my system frozen at that time. Oblivious to what was happennning and perhaps just staring at him and pretending to hear him. All that I recall was, when he said that he has to go. I thought he was like superman who retrieved my pictures at the last minute but had to hastily go, “up, up and away” to do another good deed. That night, I tried to ignore the soft spot in my heart that he touched.

    It was a shivering, rainy morning on my natal day a week later. I attended mass at 6 o’ clock in the morning. Aftrwards, I went straight to my father’s grave. It was my first birthday without my father, and it has been a barely a month since he passed away. I was sad. I remembered he never failed to give me a birthday gift. To somehow lift my spirits, I thought of making three personal wishes. The first two wishes was about my career path. It took some time to make the third one. Then, as though I was hit by lightning, an idea struck in my mind. With a smile, I swept the gloom in my face. I recalled the drizzly evening with him. I exclaimed, in front of my dad’s grave, “I wish he would call and greet me on my birthday!” Now that was a sort of a come what may wish! For one, he never knew my birthday. Secondly, if he ever would call, it would be about the project. It was a mixture of a teary moment in my father’s grave and at the same time, my heart felt very light at that moment as those thoughts crossed my mind. Crying at first because my dad was absent but I laughed at the thought of another person, him. If someone saw me that early morning they would probabaly think I was crazy!

    Of course, that was not a serious wish! I did not think about it during the rest of my day. I was about to go to sleep that night on the most saddest birthday of my life when the phone rang. From the voice of the operator, the sound of his voice, I was anxious. I thought his voice was from Mars as he said softly and sweetly on the phone, with a little creepy on the side, “Happy Birthday!” I was so surprised, I did not know what to say. I kept on asking him how did he knew it was my birthaday, but he said that was not important. For the rest of the twenty minutes on the phone, my hands shook in disbelief. What effect he has on me! Looking back, I recalled all the three wishes I had, and believe it or not, only the third wish came true.

    One night, our group friends dropped by my house, and then we all went out. I still felt weak because I have been sick for the past week. It was cold outside. Upon noticing me, he pulled out his cap and told me to wear it to keep me warm. A few minutes later, I mysteriously felt my slight fever gone! Moreover, I was in high spirits! Later on, he joined me in the table. He was looking at my purse. He seemed to fancy its flowery, hat-sahped design. He asked who gave it to me. He made a few guesses and then asked me a question that surprised me. He wanted to know what I wanted to receive from him. I could not think clearly! Was he a fairy godfather? I paused. Then I said jokingly, I wanted a Prince Charming. He could not give me that, of course.

    On the next committee meeting, my eyes were caught by the new cap-shaped purse he brought along. It was cute and I told him that it was similar to my purse. He replied in his usual charming smile that sent a message to my mind–what a mystery he inspires?

    The group did not always have meetings. One day, we went out of town. It was nice to unwind and act like kids once in awhile. At the end of the day, it was time to go home. Our friends boarded a bus on the trip back. He and I were left behind. He, of course, lived in that area. I had a childhood friend there whose house I can spend the night over. Though I refused, he insisted–ever the gentleman, on escorting me to my friend’s house. It was more than a special evening to me. It was a nostalgic trip from the past. It was quite a long time since I last visited the place where I grew up. I felt like a child again, marvelling at the place that meant so much to me since my family moved out in 1987. For the first time, I was telling him a part of myself. On the way to my friend’s house, we passed by all places that was dear to me– the apartment we used to live in, now a furniture shop. The fiesta carnival where my dad used to take me when I was a kid.  The school that molded me to what I am right now. It was odd how I openly shared this to a person who was still, more or less, a stranger to me. Yet, I felt I could tell him anything under the sun, or probably the moon at that time. We even almost slipped past my friend’s house. I thanked him and said my goodbye. As I rang the bell of my friend’s house, I kept looking at him walking down the street. I thought he might look back. He did not.

    Quite an interesting thought occurred to a colleague who coordinated with me on our project. She approached me one day and asked, “Is he courting you?” It was the most amazing puzzle of all. Nobody, not even my close friends, attempted to ask that question. I guessed it was simply because it never crossed their minds. It took an outsider to notice on few occasions the way he interacted with me. The way he looked at me and the way he talked about me. She even told me that if ever he courted me one day, I should not make it difficult for him. I wondered why?

    One time, we had a sleepless, overnight work on the project. The morning after, I did not expect the two of us to share the same commuter bus home. We sat on the opposite sides as the early, morning sun beamed through the windows. I was thinking of him. Was he thinking of me? The breeze was cool and it softly swept on the sides of the bus. From the radio sounds in the bus, came the tearful song, “Pakisabi Na Lang” (Can You Tell Him?). Would you believe in that 10 minutes bus ride, we never ganced or spoke to each other? The next thing I knew, the song ended and so was the bus ride for me. I was about to come down from the bus when he uttered, “You’re going down?” I just nodded in response and sheepishly smiled at him as I thought to myself, “Isn’t it obvious, I’m going down?”

    As in the popular song, our “thing” together would have its good days until it was the time for it to fade. Due to our busy careers, we rarely had the chace to talk again. A few times we talked on the phone regarding the project. I always wondered that whenever he talked to me, he rarely addressed me by my name. He often addresses me as, “Madam”. It irritates me. I felt that I was older or somebody superior. I never wished to be called like that. I asked him several times  why he called me like that. As usual, he responded with a smile and nothing more. I only have one probable reason, which dated a few years ago on the very first tme he spoke to me on the hallway of the school, “Madam, your write-up was beautiful.” He might never make the same comment again. He would never know, the crossings on my mind.