My mother, my mommy, my Mamu, is a passionate romantic. She loves the things she loves, and she hates the things she does. There is seldom any middle-ground with her, she either cares or she doesn’t, and she makes up her own mind about everything and damn previous reviews. She listens to other people’s opinions quietly, politely – but she does so like a cat when it stares at you with no expression on its face but a stillness that totters on the brink of indifference. Then she decides whether she will do something about what she heard or whether she will just gently shrug it off and eventually forget it. She will love, hate, or be indifferent.
This is the way my mother is about books.
Since my father, her husband died in 2003, my mother has spent more and more time reading. Their house in Cavite is a storage space for books, piled one on top of the other in clumsily constructed towers. Books have long escaped the confines of the shelves after having been pulled down, examined, perused and then neglected. They sit on the window sill next to the planters. They occupy closet space near the bathroom, sitting next to bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste. They gather dust under the sofa, or under the bed.
Sometimes I try to put the books back to their rightful place on the shelves upstairs on the second floor, or my sister does ; but generally the effort is wasted because my mother just keeps buying more – from Powerbooks, from Booksale, from National, from A Different Bookstore , or her bestfriend Tita Agnes from the US during her tri-annual trips home to the Philippines unloads her own shelves and gives her two dozen of their former contents. The books pile up, and there is no sense or reas0n or any straight classification to be seen. Mysteries and romances and comedies and dramas and anthropological studies gather dust after my mother has read them, enjoyed or rejected them, and put them down on whatever empty space is available (one time I even found two volumes inside the washing machine tub).
These days, she’s reading Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and she loves it to bits (read the Wiki summary if you haven’t read the novel or seen the movie).
My mother may read a lot, but she doesn’t have the patience to share plots or explain why exactly she enjoyed what she read. She does, however, effectively convey her delight with shrieks (or in last night’s conversation via SMS, exclamation points) and sudden bursts of insight, quoting phrases or memories borrowed from the characters whose lives she followed and shared.It is during moments when she’s so enthusiastic and even hyper about literature that she misses having my father around – he’s the only one who really had the patience to decipher her twittering, and the only one to whom my mother never minded explaining plots (because she also asked my father questions about things she didn’t get or agreed with).
My sister often complains how hard it is to talk to our mother on the phone. Mamu is always in a hurry, always abrupt, always eager to get off the phone. She’s in the middle of reading something, that’s why. That or watching a Koreanovella on DVD.
Ang kapal ni Noli de Castro! Who the heck does he think he is? Gad, that line about how one can ever dictate to him, or tell him what to say or do, aaaargh! Isn’t he aware how most Flipinos who care about what’s happening to the country right now are biting their fingernails in despair over the strong possibility and probability that he will become president right after Macapagal-Arroyo is kicked from office? And instead of proving himself to be a good (or at least not so mediocre alternative), he exhibits arrogance and expresses disdain for all those who dare to challenge him to rise to occasion and be a good and credible leader.
Kahit magkunwari man lang. Jeez!
But then again, does it really matter if he’s prepared or he’s preparing though? He’s been vice-president since 2004, and a senator before that – his record and his career haven’t exactly impressed anyone. If it weren’t for his booming TV Patrol Kabayan voice, I don’t know if anyone would’ve paid attention to him, Politically speaking, he’s a nothing. What stands has he taken? What actions has he made that have contributed to the furtherance of social goals and campaigns for genuine justice, peace and freedom? The man is an idiot. His head is probably as hollow as a pumpkin carved on Halloween (hmm, that’s too western an allusion – okay: his head is as hollow as a red painted horse taka from Paete, Laguna).
Kung ako sa kanya, hindi na ako magyayabang at mag-iinarte at sa halip aaminin ko na lang – with humility, candor and honesty -that I am not up for the job but that he is willing, able to help those who truly want to fight corruption and turn the country around. Transitional president who will give way to a transition council. One who will not be blinded by ambition and greed for power and instead put the interest of the nation and the Filipino people ahead of everything else.