TODAY, THE 26th it’s all about Mahal.* Let’s call it Mahal Appreciation Day (MAD) for brevity. All gifts to be exchanged bundled up, more gifts wrapped for people unmet during Christmas Day, laundry done and food prepared for later tonight, then off to the mall we go!
It’s but fitting that we celebrate MAD in the mall. The mall is where I met Mahal, the mall is where she worked, both at home and now in New Zealand, the mall is close to our flat and the mall is where so many of our kabayan congregate, it’s like a second home for us.
Mahal spends a bit more time getting ready, agonizing over two outfits, concedes that my suggestion about a third outfit appears more sensible, then goes right back to her two original choices. Sigh. It’s all good.
After 10 minutes of travel (the mini-traffic jam takes longer than just walking to the mall), 10 minutes of finding a suitable parking spot (we don’t want sudden rain to ruin her summer outfit) and five minutes of walking between the parking lot and the mall proper, she remembers that the most important reason for the trip (exchange the present I gave her for another, sexier one) we forgot to bring and is gathering dust on the dresser back home. Since a parking spot here, once we give it up, will be next to impossible to find, would I be a dear and walk home (much faster) and retrieve the forgotten item ?
No worries Mahal. As I said, today’s all about you.
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We decide to snack a little before continuing MAD (which started out with a pedicure/ manicure instead of the foot spa she misses back home, the gift exchange and buying odds and ends for a very short gift list), and because of the impossibly packed food court, we end up sharing a table with an Indian couple and a Arab couple. Given the famous NZ demographic diversity in urban centers, nothing surprising.
What did raise my eyebrows and elicit internal double-takes was the devil in the details : the Arabic couple was eating chicken, the Hindu couple was eating pork, and we were, of course, eating beef. We were all within garlic-breath distance of each other, meaning we could all see, smell and hear what each other was eating.
We all smile at each other. There is after all no need to be uncivil to heathen and unbelievers, but inwardly I think each of us present are quite awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least. Us Pinoys have the least awkward time, granted.
The day ends, after more shopping, a shared coffee (due to strength and volume, one medium mocha latte is enough for the two of us), a little more pampering for Mahal (it is her birthday after all), and a surprise visit from Ganda and Bunso, with a dinner treat from the celebrant. Mahal typically wants everyone to be happy, even on her special day, and she gives us a memorable dinner.
I know you already know why it’s important for me to set aside Mahal Appreciation Day, but I’m saying it anyway for the record : for the person who cooks for you, wakes you up in the morning, drives you to work if it’s windy and rainy, tucks you in at night, does your laundry, fixes snacks for you, and picks out the clothes to make you look half-presentable, hangs on to your every word, shows you how much she loves you and otherwise makes you wonder how you ever did without her, showing her one day a year that she is at the very least appreciated is, literally, the least you could do for her.
I love you so much Mahal, thanks for being in my life, and you complete me! :’)
*not her real name. 🙂
- who are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hood? (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)