Back in 84, I was two. I was a cute little kid. Everyone wanted to take me home. Everyone loved me. There were lots of them. But I don’t remember most of them. I don’t remember their faces. I don’t remember their names.
She was always seated in one corner. Every cloud of smoke from her tobacco was fascinating. She hardly talked. But she smiled often. And during those rare moments when words managed to escape her mouth, she would tell me that I was a good boy.
In 87, we moved to another house. Before we left, she reminded me to be good. She also said that a glass of tuba and some dry brown leaves would make my life complete. She smiled at me as the cab sped away.
Now, she’s 96. She pees in her bed. She doesn’t remember her kids’ names. And she has to take pills and tablets of different colors and sizes every single day.
She was on the sofa when I entered the house. One of her grandchildren asked her, “Do you know who that is?”. Her eyes lit up and her lips curved. “I would never forget”, she said. I kissed her hands and held them tight. She said, “You’re still a good boy”. She smiled. She was trembling. I was trembling.
“Twenty years”, I said.
“Twenty years,” she replied.
She wanted us to stay longer. But it was getting late and we were far from home.
“Layo pa kaayo ang Cebu, la”, I reasoned. “Mubalik ra lagi mi diri sa Asturias para mubisita nimo”. I kissed her cheek. She held me close. “Basin dili na ta magkita balik (We might not see each other again)”, she said. There were tears in her eyes.
Everyone was crying. I was crying.
“Let’s aim for 100!”, I told her. She nodded.
Then, she smiled.
As I drove away, I remembered the past.
She remembered me. She never forgot.
And even though I don’t drink tuba and I don’t fancy tobacco, I remembered her. I remember her.
We remember each other.