[ Note : I think I’ve exceeded my quota for senti (sentimental) blogs. Hope you’ve got patience for one more, thanks again to all who wished Your Loyal kabayan a happy birthday! ]
SOONER OR later, we all surrender to the conceit that our children are miniatures, replicas, or worse, clones of ourselves. With due respect, this is not true. To an uncanny extent, they may resemble us, but each child we help bring into this world is the sum of unique features, feelings and experiences that the world has never seen before and will surely never see again. The sooner we disabuse ourselves of this sometimes restricting belief, the better.
Having said that, I still gawked, beholding him, at how Bunso reminded me of a three-dimensional photograph of myself 30 years ago. Even his height was nearly identical with mine, and his voice, strangely, was even deeper than my own. I kept telling myself as he and Ganda prepared for an almost-surreal sleepover with me and esposa hermosa that I hadn’t seen him for more than two years, during which the features that would define him for the rest of his life, were carved into his youthful countenance. But in between jokes and woohoos, I had to do a double- and triple- take just to make sure it was really him.
At least on the surface, he never lost the warmth and engaging manner that so won me over when I raised him with his mother. Even in all his baby and toddler pictures you would almost never see him frown or cry, he was bubbly, bouncing, grinning, all the things you identify with an ideal infant. Perhaps he had the comparative advantage of having his bro and sis to always make him laugh, and I like to delude myself witht the thought that all the perceived mistakes his mom and I committed with his kuya and ate, were at least noted and undertaken not to be repeated, with Bunso.
[ Before I say anything else, I thank and acknowledge his mom (who I hope will come across this one day) who not only was and is an exemplary mother to him and his siblings but also moved heaven and earth (with her husband’s invaluable help and support) to bring them to NZ asap as soon as she was apprised of impending complications in the migration and documentation process. Kudos! ]
*** *** *** *** ***
But maybe I wasn’t being realistic. He didn’t ask the hard questions I expected, like why didn’t you and Mom work harder at staying together, if only for our sakes (I actually thought he would ask this unanswerable question sometime during the weekend); why did I see so little of you the last five years (understandable because I was away, but I knew that he was thinking of video chat and later Skype), and why did it have to be Mom to bring us here (she had the permanent resident status, and if it helps any, I would always be there for backup and support). He asked none of these questions and the hypothetical answers remained hypothetical.
But he did have pointed queries on how much of an impact I was prepared to make on his immediate future. He left behind an unfinished freshman year at the Blue Eagle school (made possible by generous relatives), would not for the interim be able to prove his aptitude for converting academic prowess into real-world smarts, and for that there would always be a modicum of regret. Left unsaid in that discussion was the overridiing consideration of obtaining residence in New Zealand, a gigantic and unquantifiable asset in their lives for decades to come. All that he needed to know was whether I would be there to continue extending to him the assist and support he would need to improve his lot in life in a helpful adopted country. How could I refuse him?
Because of all the catching up we did (and with Ganda and Panganay as well), the sentences we completed for each other, and the memories we couldn’t help but revive (mostly on their toddlerhoods but a little of mine as well, courtesy of stories shared by their Nana), Saturday and Sunday zoomed past like a blur.
I do owe you some highlights : he ran around the suburb with me both mornings he was here, patiently answered the back story questions as we watched Avengers (he had seen it in the Philippines), and lo and behold, asked to borrow, if I had any, books on political histories and biographies to stem the growing tide of his boredom. Both genres, after S.King and J.Grisham, were among my favorites. How could I not like this young man?
Without my telling him, he shared my reading interests, he was unfailingly polite, and he was prepared to forgive me for my many shortcomings. And assuming we would have him again, he expressed a great interest in coming back to our humble home, with his unflappable sister.
Thanks for reading !
Thanks for reading!