At the party to mark the first year of my daughter in law’s death I had the occasion to talk to my older brother Pete about our childhood summers in Cavite. My brother was the victim of a cerebral clot and half his body, his right side, had been paralyzed for quite a few years now. He could have recovered from it were it not for an accident that broke his right hipbone. Although he continued to undergo physical therapy sessions regularly it now took a bit more effort and this impeded his progress towards recovery.
He loved to play mahjong. Mahjong was a game that he really excelled in even as a young boy. In his situation it became a central activity for him. He derived a lot of enjoyment from this since he had a good batting average of wins over losses at the same time this was his way of socializing and keeping abreast with the goings on in the family and in the world even if it was just within the 3x3 confines of the mahjong table.
There was a regular quorum of which I was an occasional member. The quorum broke up when one of the regulars quit because of unkind of remarks that were being frequently thrown at her for playing ever so slowly and ever so badly. She was careless and often made wrong throws in the course of the game to the consternation of the other players. In mahjong there are quite a few common sense rules that one has to follow. A player who transgresses these upsets and derails the expected progression of the game and this rile up the serious players.
The quorum was a veritable tinderbox. At sixty-two I was the youngest in the group. Everyone, myself, included were grumpy, impatient at the same time very sensitive and easy to take offense. Although the group had existed for quite a while, the creeping up of age will doom it to dissolution. Without his cherished mahjong sessions Pete would spend most of his time in front of the TV set. He was close to turning into a “couch potato” or perhaps more appropriately a “couch grouch”.
It was during the after dinner conversation that I intimated to him that I have started to put into paper my life experiences. I had lots of free time in my hands and this was great way of using them. They say that an idle mind is the workshop of the devil and I was not about to have the horned one fit me in his infernal lathe. He showed interest when I suggested that, he too, take up writing especially about our childhood days in Cavite. He warmed up to the topic and became a veritable treasure trove of anecdotes and events. In his condition he had seldom shown any excitement during conversations but he was a different Pete as he narrated his boyhood adventures in Wawa. They flowed out copiously from his lips. He not only talked with a lot of verve but he also had a lot to tell. I am hopeful that he would pursue this. He has a facility for language and would have a vocabulary that can match that of any ivy leaguer. He would make a top class raconteur because he had a lot more exciting and colorful experiences….much more than what I or that of my other brothers had ever lived through.