Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy birthday, Tatay

My father

Today my father celebrates his birthday. Honestly, I've lost count how old he is, but I just know he's getting older. Whenever I get back home on Christmas, I'd notice more wrinkles, graying hair, and gradually sagging skin when I'd clutch his arms. But he has always had that smile, and that voice, and that unmistakable laugh.

I remember getting really furious at him one time; this was in first grade. He left me in the barber shop because he was doing groceries. I always hated it when he told me, "Just wait for me, Bon, I'll be back in a while," because he said that often. When he came back to fetch me, I was all teary-eyed because that barber ravaged my hair, cut it an inch shorter that what it was normally, leaving me looking like someone who'd just undergone chemo. And the worst feeling was that, I was all alone there, looking at that monstrosity happen, and I couldn't find the right words to speak because I was so young.

So as we were walking, I refused to clutch his little finger. And he sensed a lot of anger brewing within me. I've never felt so angry in my life. He didn't kneel down and look at me in the eye and say sorry. No, that wasn't Tatay's style. He simply rubbed my hair off, called me bald, and laughed a great deal.

And that laugh—oh, that unmistakable laugh—made me forget I was angry with him in the first place.

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