“Is that what I think it is?”
The entire evening was a blur. I did not even notice the mosquitoes feasting on my uncovered skin: I saw their marks the next morning.
Our hosts, the husband originally from the Visayas and the wife born locally but whose parents were also Visayan, welcomed us with much enthusiasm, their hospitality included all the amenities guests would receive in a hotel.
“Don’t look so naive,” Rolly, my cousin’s husband, whispered. “You’re supposed to be from the city.”
“Can’t you blame for being surprised to have lobster for breakfast?” I continued to rub my eyes to check that I was not dreaming. “One costs a thousand back home.”
“It’s their usual fare along with crabs, shrimps and all those big fishes I was telling you about. Now, do you believe me?”
I nodded, wishing to grab the lobster to see if it was the real item. It looked delicious on the plate, surely more delicious if it reached my mouth.
“I am very sorry for not preparing food you are accustomed to,” the husband said, his chubby stomach approximated his resemblance to the sitting figure of Buddha. “We do not have sardines or noodles.”
Was he for real? What he served us was something any city dweller would die for, er, dine for. It was a meal for some of the wealthy individuals in society.
Rolly grinned, accurately interpreting our male host’s excuse. I was not aware of it but it was a condescending humor only exchanged with people of the same origin. I was a Tagalog so I was not privy to the joke.
“I’m thinking of moving here,” I said, chewing the food slowly, savoring the alien taste I only imagined before, “permanently.”
“I have a job, cousin, so I guess I cannot do the same,” Rolly explained his predicament. Anyway, his retirement was six years hence so he would be back by then.
“You can stay here for as long as you want,” our male host replied. “However, we do not have electricity. Are you sure you can survive without TV?”
“If this is what I will eat everyday,” I pointed to the lobster, “I won’t need TV.”
“We have a transistor radio so you can listen to the news.”
“That’s one thing I like about this place,” I surprised them with my logic. “It’s far from civilization, so to speak. All the peace and quiet I need.”
“You might get lonely.” Our male host scratched his head.
“I can listen to your stories in the evening before we go to bed. That would be interesting.”
“Why us? We live boring lives.”
“Rolly and I have boring lives,” I said, my cousin’s husband nodded his agreement. “Yours is a meaningful story of existence, simplicity at its best.”
“You speak too deep for my understanding.”
“Well, blame the lobster,” I jested. “I could recite a poem after eating another one.”