Monday, July 15, 2013

Take back Sunday

Are you one of those persons who watches out for signs to tell you that a particular today is going to be a good day? I am one of those. 

The anticipation heightens when I am out on a jaunt to meet kindred spirits whom I haven't see in a while. Make that years!

I step out of a  tricycle that takes me out of the village and walk towards that train that will take me north of the metro. I cut through the park of Greenfield District in Mandaluyong, appreciative of the developers for having the good sense to turn a concrete parking lot into an expanse of green. I see park benches half wrapped around young trees. Underneath one, I notice that some visitors, perhaps from the night before, had left empty soft drink bottles, a carton that held  McDonald's fries. 

I remember my partner who never fails to vehemently say, when he sees the trail of litterbugs or drivers who lack courtesy, "It shows their upbringing! Training in good behavior starts when you're young."

Back to the signs, yes. I board the MRT's first carriage where all the women, the elderly and the disabled can be assured of safety. It is semi-full, but a skinny girl in jeans, tees and a denim vest gets up to ask me to take her seat. I ask if she's getting off at the next stop. She says she isn't, but she wants me to have it. I thank her, and think, "It's a sign!" 

I turn to my right and look at a child about as old as my grandchild seated on what may very well be her mother's lap. A guy in a Yankee cap covering his head of white, who might very well  be the child's grandpa, is standing, steadily holding on to a pole. At almost every stop, he tickles the flesh under the child's chin. Good sign.

The day is set; it presents no challenge, even if my lunch companions arrive a little late. They give me that window of time to window shop, glide from one aisle of a bookstore to another, until I tire a bit, sit down at nearby Mary Grace cafe where I order a long drink--peppermint ice tea mixed with fruits and served on a highly tactile mosaic table. I admire the crocheted coaster, remember a lost grandmother who used to crochet and embroider and do crazy-quilt bed covers. In short, expertly turn houses into homes.

The two lovelies arrive, each carrying a long-stemmed flower. I receive an extra one.

Sometime after the happy, two-hour-long chatty exchange over Japanese food, someone longs to walk underneath the Diliman campus trees, another hankers for a siesta. I suggest traveling by train and jeepney to Antipolo to visit another woman friend and stroll through a garden. One is game, the other will yield to her body's demand for a nap.

Down to two, friend in yellow and I take another train where we exit and walk towards a terminal of Antipolo-bound jeeps. Midway, she asks, "How far is it? Will it cost us P500 or more if we get a cab to get there?" I shake my head, saying, "It's Sunday, we can get there fast without traffic."

In the spirit of we only live once and let's be kind to our aging bodies but youthful souls, we take a cab where, in air-conditioned comfort, we continue our conversation on love, life, loss and the surety of healing.

We happily spill out of the cab and into the arms of another friend. We share a meal with her and her family that is blessed with a Lemurian prayer and take a slow walk in the adjacent garden.


Photos by Babeth Lolarga
And even if those exercises in serendipity and signs and symbols have turned into yesterday, it doesn't mean that today promises to be any less lovely. Today, I open my cell phone to read this quote, nay, this prayer, from poet Juan Jose "Jolico" Cuadra, a voice from the beyond:

"To make a songfest of one's soul journey! To maintain and sustain it, and not deviate from it, not to give an inch. To burn with ardency, with fervor, sacrificing even one's own life, just to attain and triumph for the greater glory of the soul's victory over the follies and frailties of life."

Now it feels like everyday Sunday!
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