“He’s more like his mother.”
My kumpare could not fault my observation: the boy was tall and lanky, an almost complete copy with his maternal side.
“You always remind me that I am short,” he laughed, looking at his son who was busy digging in from a pile of second hand clothes that the store owner claimed she brought from the States.
“I did not say anything about your height. You seemed adequate enough to produce an offspring even if you lack length.” The naughty reference did not escape him.
His mischievous smile showed his triumph. He knew my remark was a compliment.
“If you married my sister, we could have been brothers-in-law.”
“Come on! Let’s leave her be. She is married.” I was uncomfortable with the topic.
“I really wanted you to be her husband,” his words were sincere.
“I was fifteen years older than your younger sister. Did you want me to call you Kuya (older brother) then?”
“Well, that could have been easily solved,” he smiled wanly, a tinge of regret in his voice.
“Besides, your sister wanted someone else,” I argued.
“Bah! That no good drunkard is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Look what happened to my sister now. She works while her husband has no permanent job unless you call gallivanting something to be proud of.”
“You cannot fight Fate in her case,” I replied without sounding satisfied that she got what she deserved.
He surveyed the surroundings, how many things has changed while he was away.
“One of these days, I will be back. Permanently.”
“What about your family? I mean your parents.”
“I served them to the best of my abilities for several years. I think it’s time my brothers and sisters should take over.”
I could see he was arguing with himself. He felt solely responsible for his aging parents but he has his own happiness to think about, too. Tipping the balance on either choices was always difficult.
“You can always come back and sell fish.”
“Nope, I don’t think so,” he said without a doubt. “I want to open a bake shop.”
“But you don’t like bread,” I recalled one of his famous lines: “Give me rice anytime!”
“Isn’t that good for business?” he asked with a meaningful grin.
“Why is that good? Give me a specific reason.”
He laughed like a boy who hid the toy of his playmate. He had me guessing real hard.
“I thought you are a quick thinker,” he teased.
“People do things because they love to do it. Imagine a poet who hates poetry.”
“You have a point,” he said, pointing his thick forefinger to his forehead as if mulling the idea.
“Stop that nonsense about a bake shop.”
“Don’t you want to hear my reason?” he asked, keeping the suspense in the air.
“For the sake of argument, I am listening.”
“If I hate bread, that’s me. If I own a bake shop, that does necessarily mean I will tell people I hate bread. Since they will buy, not me, that’s good for business. Since I do not eat bread, I won’t eat my profits.”
I was speechless. It was a simple business truth.
“I want to be your business partner,” I automatically suggested, “I eat bread so I will eat your share of the profits.”