August 16, 2019 - Friday 4:08 AM by Eva Aranas Angel
“There’s a father, looking out for his son’s safety, hopeful for a son’s possible boxing career and, perhaps, have a jab with destiny and be the next Manny Pacquiao. There’s a son who just wants his father there when he gets home.”
I did not eavesdrop. I was there so I heard. I listened.
It is one of those frenetic and frenzied days. I am winding up my day at the office and I get a text from my son requesting me to cook seafood carbonara for him. It is not every day that he makes a request like this. It is not every day that we have ingredients for seafood carbonara. I dash to the nearest grocery to the office and buy him the ingredients. And I also get a text from him asking where I am because it is exam week and he wants to go home early instead of tagging along with his Papa.
I have yet to complete my grocery list.
While on queue at the checkout, I text Yaya that I am cooking for the evening and that I she must prepare all the ingredients Kuya Peter driver will be bringing home.
Kuya Peter drops me off the hospital in Quirino to see one newly admitted patient and check on the difficult ones. He then proceeds to pick up my son from basketball practice and go home.
It is a busy night for me because by then, family members will have come out of their offices and have time to swing by their respective patients. This evening though I stayed much shorter than usual in patient rooms because I have to cook my son’s request, it is getting late, and I remember having forgotten to have lunch.
It is also a busy night in the streets.
Out in the drop off zone where I am usually picked up by my driver, I wait for a taxi. There is a handful of them running the streets. I realize I have been hailing taxis the wrong way. I hailed any which one that passes by, until the guard tells me to just do it for cabs with their top lights on.
I wait for close to half an hour before I finally get one. I board and immediately tell the driver to send me to the address as fast a he can. Inside the cab I check on Enzo who, according to Yaya, is in his room, studying. I also learn that Enzo’s Yaya is done cooking the carbonara because my son says so. He’s hungry and can’t wait for me anymore.
I feel a twinge in the gut. I am the mother. I am supposed to cook for my son. I let the thought slide. As it is, I already feel like beaten to a pulp. I also cringe because the driver, in his forties, looks tired with dark circles in his eyes and emits an aura that he is just as hungry as I am, only that he bursts into paroxysms of cough.
It is nine o’clock in the evening. More than halfway through the drive, on quiet thoroughfare leading to home, the driver makes a call. He puts the other line on loudspeaker. This is the part that I hear the conversations loud and clear. He is calling his son.
‘Asa na ka anak?’ (God that word. ‘anak’ never fails to melt me like butter over warm bread.)
‘Naa pa ko sa gym Pa.’ (C’mon boy, tell me which gym.)
‘Unsa ingon ni Coach?’ (C’mon, coach for what?)
‘Pa, wala ko ka- practice ug tarong kay naguba akong sapatos Pa.’ (Here I feel a knife is stuck to my chest.)
‘Sagdi lang Nak, pangitaan nato ug paagi.’ (Yes, that’s what a good parent does. But what is he practicing for?)
‘Hulat na lang ko diri Pa. Dungan na lang mi uli. Nag-sparring pa man si Marlon.’ (Now I get it. His son is practising boxing.)
‘Uli dayon Anak ha? Kabalo na ka sa panahon ron’ (Yeah. It’s past 9 p.m., there’s curfew at 10.)
‘Ikaw Pa, unsang oras ka muoli? Uli pod ug sayo Pa ha?’ (Awww, this is the sweetest.)
‘Dah, unsaon pag-uli ug sayo Nak, birthday baya nimo ugma. Alas dyes pa ko sa buntag tingali. Maayo nang naa man lang tay ika-plastada.’ (Wait, that’s a twist in the plot!
‘Sagdi lang gud nang birthday-birthday Pa uy. Uli lang ka sayo.’ (Now I also want to have a son like him.)
I instruct the driver to bear left.
‘Basta Nak, timan-i, diretso uli sa balay. Salig ko nimo pero dili ko musalig sa mga laing tawo sa palibot nato. Daghang dayo.’ (My sentiments exactly.)
The driver bursts into a fit of coughing again. We meet a couple with huge luggage. The driver rolls down the window and calls them out.
‘Airport mo Mam, Ser? Hulata lang ko. Balik dayon ko. Duol lang man ni si Ma’am’, he says with an embarrassed and tentative grin as he looks at me.
I tell the couple to put their luggage in the trunk. I alight from the cab. I pull out some folded bills I am intending for a tiny bit of vanity. The driver, mindfully returns the other bills as he fumbles for change.
‘Ma’am, basin naa kay mas gamay ani?’
I lean forward and talk to him through the open window beside the drivers seat.
‘Imoha na na tanan Nong. I-birthday gift sa imohang anak. Unta muoli na pod ka ug sayo. Pag-patambal sa imong ubo.’
The driver, frazzled, clutches the amount I give him. He thanks me profusely and says, ‘Ma’am God bless you Ma’am. God bless you.’
I dismiss him by reminding him that there’s a couple waiting in the backseat going to the airport.
Contrary to what the driver says, I am not near where I should be. I am still about two blocks away from my house but I did not want him to lose the passengers.
I walk my way home. It was a nippy evening. I am tired. I have blisters from having worn a new pair of shoes. I ponder the father and son conversations.
There’s a father, looking out for his son’s safety, hopeful for a son’s possible boxing career and, perhaps, have a jab with destiny and be the next Manny Pacquiao. There’s a son who just wants his father there when he gets home.
Love has got everything to do with it. My life is made richer because of these conversations.
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