By Virginia J. Pasalo
HER father had been ill for ten years. She will have him cremated next week, after all the relatives are gone, with her mother and siblings attending, a quick reunion to honor the passing.
“Makapasangit. Inasikaso na met ti lamay. Kasla inayat na met.” (It makes me cry. She attended to the wake. As if she loved him.)
In between her tears, she swallowed her Chicken Joy, followed by a gulp of soft drink, like a hungry sailor. She took the napkin, wiped her tears, and blew her nose, leaving a snot in between the little groove below her nose and her upper lip. Her friend, swaying her head to the beat of “I Love you, Sabado”, sliced her Burger Steak.
“Ni, nabatim duggong mo, dita ngato’t bibig mo. Ket wen la, inayat na met ah!” (Hey, you left a snot above your lip. Of course, your mother loved him!)
“Makapaunget. Siak ti nagaywan kenni Daddy ti sangapulo nga tawen, manipud idi na-aksidente ken maawanan ti trabaho. Kanayon nga naladaw nga agaw-awid aggapu idiay meeting na, ken nu adda ditoy balayen, agche-check ti papel. She did not cook, she boiled things, por pagusto laeng.” (It makes me angry. I was the one who took care of Daddy for ten years, immediately after his accident and he was out of work. She was always late from a meeting with her friends, and when she got home, she focused on checking papers. She did not cook, she boiled things, just to comply with her duties.)
“Ikkatem duggong mo, kabagis, matnag idta kankanem.” (Take out your snot, sister, it will fall on your food.)
She wipes her nose. Her tears did not stop. She did not also stop swallowing big chunks of chicken. Suddenly, she stood up and went to the counter. She came back with another Chicken Joy, big fries, and another cup of soft drink.
“No, she did not love him. In fact, she did not even make love to him.”
“How do you know that?”
“I saw my father kiss her on the nape, on the cheek, and she pushed him away. There were other times she pushed him away. She always said she was tired. And later, she occupied the guest room. She only came to my father’s room to say goodbye before she goes to school.”
“Perhaps she was truly tired. She is the main breadwinner, and even with the sari-sari store you manage, the cost of your dad’s medicine is very expensive. I heard your mom has a small variety store inside the classroom.”
“Maybe that is true. But she was cold. Uray siak, mariknak ti lammiis na. Ammom, naglinisak idiay kwarto ni Daddy idi kat-katay na, agsangsangitak ta addada nakitak nga condom idiay uneg ti pillowcase na. Kasla agur-uray nga umuneg ni Mommy, ket ready isu na.” (Even I can feel her coldness. You know, I cleaned my Daddy’s room after he passed away, and I cried because I saw a condom inside his pillowcase. He seemed to be waiting for Mommy to get in, and he will be ready with it.)
“Nalam-miis ta breakfast mon, kabsat.” (Your breakfast is cold, sister.)
“Mom did not want another child after our youngest was born in 1996. She said her body was very weak, and the family finances cannot afford it.”
“Stop crying, bes. Mabalin mo agasawan. Adda man aywanamon. (Don’t worry, best friend. Now you can marry. You can take care of another man.)