The Old Town

We visited the old town over the weekend.

My mother and her siblings were born and grew up in that town. My siblings, cousins, and I spent a number of summer vacations there. I earned about a dozen ugly scars on my knees and legs from playing in the municipal playground, called Paraiso ng mga Bata (Children's Paradise), or something like that, because it really was. We stuffed ourselves with kakanin (rice cakes) and soda that Lola (Grandma) had infinite amounts of. We played sungka with Apong Ustang, who could beat you with her eyes closed, as long as she was not having an asthmatic attack.

After lunch, an anointed one was tasked to pick on Lolo’s (Grandpa) scalp for gray hairs. Siestas were never required, as they were back home. In the afternoons, though, we dutifully sat for the mandatory Scrabble games with Lola, and added and re-added our scores. I didn’t win a lot of games then, but I’d like to think that I learned a good number of low-frequency words that buttressed my school compositions.

My best memories? Brushing my teeth alongside Lolo by the huge living room window. The one time that he hauled off my cousins and me in that army truck-like vehicle of his, and brought us to the ricefields. The very rainy days when Lola allowed us to get soaked in the rain. And the meals. The glorious meals Lola and our aunt labored to prepare.

We visited the old town over the weekend, and in my heart, I shed tears. Tears of longing, when we visited the family plot in the cemetery. Tears of sadness when we passed by Lolo and Lola’s house, now inhabited by non-relatives. Tears of regret for not visiting Lolo and Lola more often when they were still living.

We visited the old town over the weekend, and in my heart, I shed tears. Mostly, though, they were tears of gratitude.

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I get so thrilled when you visit! Please tell me how it was like!