On my way out to buy lunch earlier today, I passed by the open door to the living room of the family living downstairs. Scattered on the floor were open suitcases, clothes, various accoutrements. Apparently the seaman husband who arrived a few weeks ago will be putting out to sea again. It’s a scene familiar to many households, in this country of some ten million overseas workers. Preparing for the journey; carefully packing away clothes, shopping items that were bought here because they’re cheaper, maybe a package or two of “paabot” stuff for other Filipino friends or co-workers; giving and receiving last minutes instructions and reminders. The word “goodbye” will not be mentioned, not just yet. At that stage, the concern will be for the practicalities – don’t forget this, don’t forget that – with just the slightest hint of sadness and wistfulness evident behind the harried tones.
During the first few days of his father’s arrival, the little boy downstairs sounded like a charged up dynamo; very active, very playful, the sounds of his joy reaching me upstairs and making me smile, and prompting the neighbor to fondly remark over the fence, “Ang saya ni Mako kasi nandito ang Daddy nya!”
My sister will be arriving from Taiwan tomorrow for a five-day visit. She’ll be coming with my two nieces, one of whom, the younger one, will be left behind to go to school here for a year – on loan to Lola. With such a short visit, I’d expect that there’d be a flurry of activities: shopping, getting Tisha enrolled in her school, looking up a few friends. My sister will be living out of her suitcase, basically, only unpacking the pasalubong and of course Tisha’s things. On her last night, I’d witness the scene of that’s probably going on in the living room downstairs.
The word “goodbye” will not be mentioned, not just yet.