Ago 8, 2014

Dear P—

Hi, again. Been years.

I wrote because a revision of the old scenario is in order: I'll still cook for your boy, but now it can be done with firewood. I've been practicing. My father always had what he called a dirty kitchen, even back when the apartments we got were smaller. The set-up served us well whenever the gas ran out and we couldn't get a fresh tank delivered on time.

But that was then, P—. What we have here's a lightweight grill for charcoal. I don't want to wear it down, so now I'm just using it for drying wood. Moved the pot to an earthen stove dug at the foot of the kaymito. Forgot that I could work fire with wood and rock. Never had my father's green thumb... but the red index? Please. What remains is to learn (or remember) how to adjust the taste of various stews to the smoky water (they can be very sensitive). But really, how to learn this... I can't just throw the soup should smoke get the better of it. Learning has ever been a wasteful process. Teachers are creatures of garbage.

You're a delinquent so you know this by heart, but how's he doing? Should I ask? It's often the first thing to ask, what'd you finish? Have you finished? What are you working on? How's work? How many mouths are you feeding? With what quality the spoon?

How many questions before we get to how many times do you think of your mother? Specify the nature and content of these thoughts. Ha! Hey Ms., I'm missing the hate. Bring back the hate.

By the way, I know exactly what to give your son, but I hope he can bring a car because the gift would be confiscated if those checkpoints at SLEX and MRT are still active. I hope he can bring a car without bringing too many friends. Too-many-friends will mean an amazing amount of small talk, all surface, nothing going. So he should call first. And he shouldn't bring any gifts... wait.

Unless it's that picture of you at your brother's wedding when you were afraid you hadn't jogged enough and the dress caught up with you so you showed it to me all of three seconds, maybe less. Yes, I'd take that. It will feel like having won at something big and secret. What do you think, will he carry that?I mean the picture, not the dress itself. (What to do with one more dress? This is a house of daughters! And wow, that must have been twelve years of mothballs. On top of everything that a dress might have lost, that thought of those mothballs dwindling to bits.)

Those checkpoints are tricky, the more I think about them. He ought to have my gift, but I don't want him getting into trouble. I could cover it in rubber or something, maybe bury it in one of those styro blocks, the type that comes with new refrigerators. I'll carve and paint the block until it looks like a toy firetruck, but I'm telling you, he'll have to seem like a parent. Or better yet, let him earn it! Just like the rest of us.

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