“What do you want to do now?” My father asked my mother after their short stay at the hotel in Malolos.
My mother has money, so, she better decides.
“We’ll stay tonight at Ate Nance. I’ll tell her what happened. And I’ll talk to my sisters,” my mother said.
Damn honest and naive: that worried my father. My mother could burst out to open the minute detail of what transpired between them.
“Just tell her, you will get married,” snapped my father.
Abject poverty shocked my mother in her one-week stay at my father’s house. The mansion which puzzled her – how they afforded that house cleared up.
My father’s family was the mansion’s caretaker without pay for an absentee landlord. Big as the mansion was, it was bare. They had a shelter. And that’s enough. A good blessing. Now, my mother understood why my grandmother didn’t invite her inside when she visited my father.
My mother wondered how they lived in such a miserable state.
On her first day, she, my father, and my grandmother went to the Baliwag market and bought house amenities, food, groceries, and clothes for my father and my grandparents.
My grandmother hush-hush at my father, where did she find my mother, as he chanced upon a gold mine.
My grandmother, my mother told me, was a part-time cook of prominent families in Baliwag. But her racket couldn’t sustain them. Lolo Valentin, my grandfather, was a Warehouseman before the war. My mother used to say my father’s family – in her exact words: lived a “hand-to-mouth” existence. And my grandparents teamed up as the laundry couple, to earn a living.
My mother labeled herself as the “army-soup kid”. She reminisced herself living in Fort Stotsenburg, enjoying the comfort and the amenities of Western living.
For two days, my mother said, they had a feast in the mansion. My grandmother on my mother being a part of the family, impressed my mother with her eclectic style of cooking which she learned from her well-off clients. This was at my mother’s generosities to show camaraderie to them.
My grandmother said to my mother, “Hija, we are poor, but name the best food the rich had, we’ve tasted it.”
So, for two days of food satiation, on the third day, foods emptied. No more to eat. On the fourth day, my mother was so hungry she finished the unripe guava fruits still hanging in the tree near the mansion.
My mother thought: My father’s way of living was alien to her. Now, like my father she drew to the quicksand of marriage.