A Walk in the Neighborhood
When the day is inviting—neither raining nor too cold—my grandfather and I go out in the neighborhood for a morning walk. Seldom will we see other people in the streets. The neighborhood is usually quiet, except for the playful cackle of the crows and gulls, as well as the once-in-a-while whirr of airplanes hovering far above the skies—at which Grandfather will usually stare in awe—perhaps because he missed travelling.
Grandfather has a wanderlust; how he used to travel at least twice a year—visiting relatives in other Canadian provinces, in the United States, as well as in the Philippines. This simple activity he can no longer do now, since his doctor said that long flights may put pressure on his weak heart. I feel sorry for him for that. Sometimes he would ask me when will I become eligible to return home because he wanted to visit his homeland for the last time; he wanted to join me in my homecoming. How I would often lie: "Of course, Papa, we'll go home together. I want you to be there when I finally get married." To which he would simply utter a sincere smile, which in turn pricks my heart, obviously because that will no longer happen. He can no longer endure such long plane trips. This is the reason every time I see him staring dreamily at the airplanes in the sky, I hurt inside. Oh, my hopeful grandfather, sorry for my having to lie to you.
You might have noticed in the picture, I was holding a small plastic bag in my right hand--that's dikiam, one of my favorite Chinese preserved delicacies. (That's why Aji Ichiban is among the stores in the Philippines that I miss, where I usually bought kiamoy, mahu, and dikiam; although there's a similar store here); and, tucked under my arm, is a book—that's A History of Writing by Steven Roger Fischer, the book I'm currently on). Every time Papa and I go for a walk in the neighborhood, I don't forget to bring something to munch—especially chocolates, Grandfather's favorite—and something to read aloud while walking—especially a poetry book. How delightful it is to recite a poem while walking leisurely on a relatively warm and serene morning.
That pink boots I was wearing? That's the pair of Doc Marten's boots I bought at the DM store at Glorietta in Makati, days before I left for Canada. Mind you, I never realized that even here I'm subject to those stares of awe and wonder. Was it my hair? my shoes? my taste in clothes? Oh, well, perhaps it's my eLven ears. Nonetheless, I'm used to it. Never did enjoy being stared at actually, but better a head-turner than an unnoticeable nobody.