Thursday, 13 March 2014

Salt on Your Pansit and Random Memories on A Bad Day

I was a bad child.

Sure, I was always on the  honor roll.   But  outside of schoolwork,  I was petulant bordering on the disrespectful.   Nobody could force me to do housework or to run errands.  I had my own sense of  right and wrong.  What is right for me is to do good in school, go to Sunday School, play with brother.  What other people have no right to ask of me: Buy something from the store/grocery/pharmacy, wash the dishes, clean someone else´s mess at home.  You get the picture?  I had attitude back when the term “attitude problem” was not yet coined. 

One time my father, who just got home, asked me to prepare merienda for him and the driver.  What lousy timing! I was in the middle of a novel!  I stomped and frowned like hell while preparing their food.  I suppose I thought that was the way to show my anger at the disruption.  Why the hell can´t the driver go fix his own merienda?   Why do I have to serve them? My father, red with anger at my obvious lack of politeness, told me in a shaking voice to go up or get out of the house.

The thing is, I didn´t choose nor discriminate. I was a bad child even to  people who are family., even to those I love.  If you cross me, you better watch out.  At eight years old, I  could gauge what to say or do to  make people leave me alone. I  was tuso as a kid.  And for that, I´ve had a caserola thrown at me by a favourite uncle whom I teased to death.  I was, I think ten.  An auntie told  me pointblank that I was maldita, then  she traced  our family tree  to see where I got my evil spunk.  

 Tonight though what I remember the most was a prank I played on Uncle U, my father´s older brother.  When I was young, Uncle U was always at our house in Manila.  He was really nice.  Easy to ask barya from and was someone I was used to having around.  But of course, as most of my older relatives are prone to do, he made the mistake of commanding me to do his bidding.  He asked me to cook pansit. for him   One would say that,  not even twelve then,  I should have been  happy and proud that my uncle would think well enough of my cooking to trust me to cook merienda for him.  Nah. Bad Child, remember?  I  don´t remember why I didn´t just turn on my spunky side and yelled NO to his face.  I chopped cabbage, carrots, pork, stir fried bihon noodles and served a big bowl of my  pansit to Uncle U.  One mouthful and he screamed at me.  Bat ang alat naman nito!  I  smiled wickedly.  And because he was really hungry, he got the  catsup bottle out and plonked a big blob into his pansit in an effort to hide the saltiness.  My though bubble was: Serves you right for ordering me around.

I  didn´t think he  remembered it but one time, Brad, his son, asked him about my antics, and my Uncle remarked,  “I will never forget that salty pansit as long as I live.”

My Uncle U would be so  proud and relieved to know that I will never  place a handful of asin in his, or anybody´s plate of pansit again.  Time and adulthood taught me that being a grown-up means mastering the art of give and take.  Even bad kids  grow up.   And running a small business  while working have further refined my patience. Why,  on a good day, I might even bake cakes upon the request of friends and family. 

But here´s the thing. We will never get to bake a cake for Uncle.   Brad will never be able to dazzle him with his cupcake creations.  Because today, Uncle U went home. Up where there are perpetually good days.  Up with the angels. Today,  after years of sickness, after years of trying to be good and fighting, he got his prize. No more pain.  

Death is hardest on those who are left behind. For Brad, Gay, and  their younger siblings.  But most especially to Auntie.    We, those who can still think rationally,  we try to remind them  of the good side.  No more suffering.   Uncle U would not want his family to feel as if hope is lost.  No, we´re going to  move towards good.  Brad and his siblings, my Auntie,  our whole extended family, we´re going to be happy soon.  Uncle will not have any reason to worry.  We will help each other.   But today, though, let this be our bad day, let the grief come. Let the loss fill us as we catch fragments of memories,  as we cry over unexpressed regrets.  Today we can be sad.  Because we know that with the days, hope, reason, dreams and our determination will come.  Because, even bad things (and bad kids such as me), given chance and time, can  turn into good tidings.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm so thankful that I read this post. Condolence on you uncle though.


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