Walking slowly with a hunchback, Lourdes, one of the ladies in front of the Baguio Botanical Gardens, approaches me and looks at me curiously. We both greet each other with a smile and without me telling her, sits in front of me. It was my first time to see her here. Many times, I ask questions first. This time around, Lourdes asks the first question.
Where do you come from, apo?
It’s been years since I’ve been called that. ‘Apo’ means grandchild in Tagalog. I tell her my name and where I’m from. She forgets my name a couple of times during our conversation. I don’t blame her. Who remembers the name “She” anyway?
I’ve always envied friends who were very close to their grandparents. I’ve never been close to them when I was younger because they lived in the province. I only saw them when there were special occasions. When I do have my vacations in their houses, I rarely speak to them as I would be busy playing with cousins, dodging chicks, chickens and cats. When school resumed after summer vacation most of my friends would be talking about spending their vacation with their Lolo (grandfather) and Lola (grandmother) and I wondered why I couldn’t enjoy the same things like they did.
I was often told I looked like my Lola Doray, my father’s mother. So much so that they called me ‘Little Doray’. They said I had the same smile and eyes. I just wish I had her height. When I was younger, I often took this comparison seriously and would stare at her for a long time. I wondered if I’ll have the same hair when I grow old. My Lola’s long white hair was always fixed in a ponytail or bun. At very rare moments, I will see Lola combing her hair with a wide-toothed comb. She did this ever so slowly while gazing outside our bedroom window. I found her white hair lovely.
I do remember helping her with the laundry too whenever she stayed with us. I used to laugh at how big her undies were (forgive me, Lola for sharing this). I would (rudely) comment on this while we are all having dinner. I remember Mama giving me a disapproving look… one that says I should quit giggling and shut up. If you know me, stifling a giggle or laughter is not my strongest suit. Lola was known to be a disciplinarian, but she was always forgiving and gentle to me.
I never had the chance to know more about my grandparents. Almost everything I know of them came from stories told by relatives. Sometimes I wish I can go back in time and get to know them more.