Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dinner for Two

Would you indulge me for a minute while I tell you a story? It’s not awfully long, and it wouldn't leave you sad or depressed; it might even make your day if your day hasn't been made yet, although I highly doubt that. Still, I’m sure your minute is important and is not something to be wasted, so I’d tell the story the best I could, and I hope you find some measure of enjoyment in it, somehow.

It starts like this…

“Mama, how was work today?”

“Hmm, well, it’s the usual, I guess…”

“Oh? Weren't you going on last night about how the new girl Amie was trying to make a good impression by awkwardly stealing the scene from the higher ups?”

“Ha! Well, she got what she deserved!”

“And what she deserved… Is something that happens usually I assume?”

“Ha? What do you mean?”

“Oh nothing…”

In a typical home, in a typical subdivision, lives a typical family, sharing a typical dinner. The typical serving of freshly cooked rice, the typical chicken adobo (chicken simmered in vinegar and soy sauce), and the typical side of greens with alamang (shrimp paste); all very typical, and the mother and daughter sharing the meager meal was no expectation.

“Toni, how’s your work been? You’re pretty mum about it recently, any problems?”

“Eh, well, there’s the obnoxious little kid, George. I told you about him before, I think. He failed last term and he was making it seem like it was my fault that he did.”

“Well? Why did he fail anyway?”

“It’s irrelevant. But the obnoxious thing about it is he’s suddenly involving his parents. He was going to file some sort of grievance against me to the school board.”

“Ha? Well that’s really… Obnoxious…”

“Fucked up.”


“Ma, you don’t have to hide it from me you know, haha, I know that was what you wanted to say, I saw you stopping yourself! No point pretending to be a good parent here, hahaha, we all know you’re very… Expressive, hahaha!”

“Hahaha, well, that’s definitely something you took from me! And yes, that’s indeed fucked up!”

“I know! Normally I don’t really allow myself to be affected by such things, as I can very easily just present my records to the school board, but this student claims he has connections within the university administration, and he keeps threatening me that he can have me booted out on a whim…”

“And so? I wouldn't think that sort of thing would bother you either…”

“Ah, well, it doesn't  I don’t care if he’s the son of the University President, heck he can be the son of the Philippine President for all I care! But I’m just worried, you know, about the kid. What kind of relationship would he have when he grows up…”

And at that, silence fell upon the little dinner table. Only the tiny clinking of the kubyertos (table settings) could be heard; refined and almost harmonic. After all, she was her daughter, and she wouldn't raise an illiterate wild woman, no sir she won’t, as she would often very proudly exclaim. And a fine graceful woman her daughter did turn out to be, a delicate but strong character loved by many and hated by few.

Her daughter finished first, but waited on her so she can gather the plates up for washing.  It was her turn tonight to do the dishes.

The rush of the water against the dirty plates broke the pensive silence. That and a curious question.

“How are you and Michael?”


“I said how are you and Michael? It’s been a while too since you last talked about him. He hasn’t done anything to hurt you or anything hasn't he?”

“Hahaha, no ma, we’re fine! I just can’t see him as often recently, that’s all. All the term-end work is keeping me preoccupied, so he’d just have to wait, hahaha!”

“Hahaha! Well, I’m sure he understands. You've been on for how long now?”

“Uhh, hmm, seven, maybe eight years now?”

“Wow… That’s… Impressive…”

It was indeed, for her at least. And once again, silence fell upon the two. They were a perfect picture of family: a caring mother and a dutiful and industrious daughter; what more can you ask for? And as the final plates were wiped dry, the daughter kissed her mother good night.

Tomorrow, both of them would wake up. Whoever woke up first made breakfast; while they normally took turns with the house chores, they do not take turns for breakfast preparation so as not to be late for work. Breakfasts are normally quieter than dinners, although it was not completely devoid of chatter; they just couldn't talk as much in the mornings for the same reason they do not take turns with breakfast preparations. Then after making sure they were both ready for work, they would leave, her mother taking the family SUV and her on her personal sedan.

They would go through their day, and then reconvene again in the evening, doing the same typical things in the same typical house in the same typical subdivision.

So why do I tell you this story? Well, I don’t know either myself. Apologies for those expecting an unexpected ending, but sometimes a story-teller would only want to tell that: a typical story, simple and ordinary.

Isn't that what we all wish for in the end anyway?

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