For almost an hour I waited for transport to the town center. The weather changed dramatically: it became colder and the winds blustery. The sun probably shone brighter somewhere else.
When I stepped on inside the jeepney, I was surprised to see a smiling face in front of me. Not that my eyes were getting older (maybe) but I failed to recognize who he was. It would seem that the thousand of faces stored in my brain could not put a name to his features.
I smiled back while trying to make him familiar to my memory. I began associating his face with places I had been, the past fifteen years, that is, because he could not be above twenty.
He could have been a former neighbor by the river or one of young fishermen I got acquainted with during my venture. Or, he could have been one of the participants in various meetings in the town center which I attended before. Or, maybe a seatmate I conversed with on one of my bus journeys to the city.
But that quick brain jog failed. Still a blank. Nothing came close to remind me his connection to my existence.
I tried a different tact.
“It’s good thing the storm did not create any damage,” I opened with an out-of-the-blue remark. His answer could possibly give me a small hint.
“That’s true,” he agreed, limiting his reply to a minimum.
Impatiently, I decided to go to the most direct approach.
“Have we met somewhere?” I asked, squinting as if the motion might provide me with more chances to remember him.
“Ninong, You forgot about me, didn’t you?”
He looked matured for his age. My oldest godchild was seventeen.
“Are you a godchild of mine?” I asked foolishly.
“The second,” he replied curtly, playfully quizzing my brain.
Then, a slight nudge from a man beside me made the meeting more friendly.
“Pare, long time, no see!” The face of long ago talked to me in a familiar tone.
He nearly fell from where he sat when I patted his back a bit too strongly. I was too glad to see him again.
“When did you come back? Is this my godchild?” I pointed to the young man who took my hand to show his respect. “That’s why I cannot recognize him.”
“Just the other week,” my kumpare replied. “A short vacation, really. Your godchild want to see all his godparents.”
“I’ll be a freshman in college, Ninong.”
“I don’t doubt that,” I grinned. “Your deep voice is proof of that.”
I shook with my kumpare’s hand vigorously, elated for the chance encounter.
“Where are you going?” I asked, curious if they could stay for a day.
“At the town center. Sight seeing.”
“If I can tag along I think I am entitled to treat you for some dinner. Okay?”
“You see,” my kumpare said to his son. “We will not go hungry in this place.”
“I owe him years of presents for birthdays, Christmases and other occasions. It’s the least I could do for now.”
“Now that you mention it,” my kumpare jested. “You can give me a going home present.”
“Why?” I asked laughing. “You’re not my godchild.”
“I paid for all the presents you were not able to give him.”
Even the other passengers listening to our conversation joined us in laughter.