Six windows, two walls

You would marvel at my Dad's ability to name the year he heard a particular song. He listens to his favorite FM station and would say dates in this state of eureka. Then, a short essay of where he was when he first heard the song. From his recollections I learned a lot about the Old Manila and the trams and Jones bridge and Aristocrat and Escolta and that Makati, back then, was just filled with waterlilies.

His father, a meteorologist who paid close attention to typhoons during his time and had written two books on aeronautical engineering and meteorology, has the same knack for memorizing things. I think I inherited that, having this wondrous inclination to memorize the Periodic Table, the Capitals of the World, and... a lot of things like maps on Crash Team Racing, and scientific advancements in Civilization III and IV. Save for the Krebs Cycle and scientific names of vegetables, it's very impractical.

I also fall into the same stupor my father loves to wallows in, misty-eyed, remembering things. That my life exists to remember things isn't a convincing argument, but sometimes we feel more alive just remembering.


My son, Perry, just four months, loves the outdoors. While we walk in circles with his stroller, he couldn't contain his excitement in the kicks his little legs do again and again when the branches of trees around our apartment sway with the wind. His stares are wonderful--beady-eyed and very preoccupied with the trees. I look in his eyes and it reflected the trees and the hazy orange hues of the sunset, and it looked like an old, little picture of misty weather.

We sit on my father's rocking chair after a while, and by the window we could smell my wife's beef bourguignon stewing in its warm bath of butter, brandy and red wine. The back of Perry's head rests on my chest, and his head gently probes instinctively, left and right with its thin tufts of hair, like light wisps from the grass just lovely to look at and cup inside the hands in cool afternoons, just like this one.

Then I read Strange Pilgrims to him. Two stories (I Sell My Dreams and I Only Came To Use The Phone), both wonderful. The suspension of disbelief stretched the stories, making it alive and magical and real all at the same time, and it still worked no matter how many times I've read it (the first one was three years ago, during my interview at the US Embassy).

But I didn't recite it aloud. (Perhaps the Chabon I read to him needed to be recited aloud as it is about fatherhood, like a note to self but within his earshot.) I assume that when his little chubby hands grasped the pages--and all the time I put my fingers to let him know my pace; maybe his attention would be directed to the same words--I know he's reading the letters just like the trees, with the amazement one couldn't describe. Children take that wonderment as it is, when we adults try so hard to explain that moment and fail miserably. They take it as it is not because they couldn't talk, but because their language allows them to just take things as they are.